A Royal security expert says that Prince Harry's attempt to serve with British forces in Afghanistan has handed a propaganda coup to radical anti-Western groups who will portray him as going from shooting grouse to shooting Muslims.
Alex Bomberg, a former aide to the Royal Family who now runs his own close protection firm, said the move would cause a major security headache for the Royal Protection Squad, reports the Daily Telegraph newspaper in the UK.
The 23-year-old Prince, who is third in line to the throne, has spent the last 10 weeks fighting the Taleban in Helmand Province. But he is to be flown back to the UK amid concerns for his safety - and those around him.
The move follows the collapse of a news blackout 'D' notice security deal with the British media. The voluntary code on reporting the Prince's tour of duty, which some press campaigners have called "self-censorship", was broken by overseas media - in particular the US Drudge Report blog.
Neil Doyle, an expert on extremism on the internet, told the conservative-leaning Telegraph: “There will be an avalanche of propaganda, describing him as a killer of Muslims using the pictures of him firing machine guns.”
He continued: “They normally talk about the Queen as the head of the Church of England and Harry as her representative on a new crusade.”
“There were calls to kill [Prince Harry] from British militants last time and now he will be the number one target, a major demon,” said Doyle.
“They will be saying things similar to when he was going to go to Iraq, when we heard comments like, 'One minute he’s shooting grouse and the next minute he’s shooting Muslims,’ he declared.
But the Prince received unexpected support from radical anti-war Respect MP George Galloway last night.
Speaking on BBC television's prime 'Question Time' programme, Mr Galloway, member of parliament for Bethnal Green in East London, said that although he resolutely opposed British troops being in Afghanistan, he admired the royal and his family for being there.
"The MPs and ministers who voted for this criminal war have certainly not been wiling to send their children off to fight," he said.
Galloway, a Catholic socialist, has been accused of appeasing the former regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but says he was always a public opponent of the dictatorship as well as the West's war strategy.
The head of the British Army is now blaming what the Telegraph calls "the foreign media" for the Prince's plight.
But media analysts say it was "astonishingly naive" and "out of touch" of the government and the military to think that in a 24/7 online news environment Prince Harry's tour of army duty could ever be kept secret.