Royal Roundup: Prime Minister Has Final Say On Harry’s Deployment

Prince Harry in Afghanistan in 2008. (AP Photo/John Stillwell)

Prince Harry hasn’t even finished his helicopter training yet, but there’s of course already been much interest in where he’ll eventually be deployed. It’s been reported that senior Army commanders will make the decision, in consultation with Prince Charles and the Queen, but The Telegraph writes that the ultimate authority in this case will be Prime Minister David Cameron.

“The Prime Minister will be consulted before any decision is set in stone, and ultimately he will have the power to block the Prince’s deployment,” an “insider” reportedly told the newspaper. “At this stage, there is nothing to suggest David Cameron or anyone else would stand in the way of Prince Harry being granted his wish to go back to Afghanistan.”

Harry was previously sent to Afghanistan, but was taken out of the country when press reports revealed his presence there and officials thought he would become a special target of the enemy. The Ministry of Defence reportedly thinks he faced more risks as a field soldier than he does now, as a helicopter pilot.

Harry still has more training ahead, including an eight-week tour in the U.S. beginning next month.

In other royal-related news:

 Zara Phillips arrived in New Zealand today, but she had not seen her husband Mike Tindall as of this evening. Instead, the Queen’s eldest granddaughter put in a surprise appearance at a charity event for CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust in Auckland. Originally, Phillips had planned to arrive in New Zealand in two weeks, but she moved up her trip after a tabloid scandal that included videotape of her husband, the captain of England’s rugby team, getting up close and personal with a blonde in a Queenstown bar.  Sources close to Phillips have said the woman is a long-time friend of the couple, who were married about two months ago. Phillips is expected to see Tindall when she goes to Dunedin tomorrow – that’s Thursday U.S. time and Friday New Zealand time. (via The New Zealand Herald)

• Prince Charles was said to be extremely moved by the deaths of four Welsh miners last week. Clarence House said he “followed the story and was deeply saddened by what happened.” He and Camilla also sent private condolences to family members. So when he was invited to become patron of the  Swansea Valley Miners Appeal Fund, the future king quickly agreed, and is believed to have made a “substantial contribution himself,” according to The Press Association.

• The Telegaph has put a considerable amount of research into a rather sad story about some of Princess Diana’s dresses, including the famed blue velvet dress she wore at a 1985 White House gala where she danced with John Tavolta.

The gown was reportedly sold this past June for a record 510,000, along with nine others also owned by Diana, totaling more than 2 million. The paper reports that, in fact, the dresses were never really sold at all.

The auction house says the seller, Maureen Dunkel, of Tampa, Florida, set the reserve prices too high. Dunkel had herself bought the dresses at a charity auction, and, after Diana’s death, took them on tour to raise money for charity in an exhibit called Dresses for Humanity.

The Telegraph wrote: “Mrs. Dunkel made her name from her ownership of the dresses, writing a book My Decade With Diana, even though there is no evidence the two women ever met.”

But needing to pay off large debts, Dunkel put the gowns up for auction. One of her creditors said, however, that he thought she set the dresses’ reserve prices so high because she couldn’t face actually selling them. “The dresses are what made her who she is,” he said. “She was known as the lady who bought the Princess Diana dresses.”

The Telegraph says the ownership of the dresses is now in legal limbo.