Suffolk/Afghanistan: Prince Harry was not exempt from making the tea on tour
PUBLISHED: 00:05 27 January 2013
PRINCE Harry and his colleagues from Suffolk-based 662 squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan last week. JAMES EDGAR find out more about the Prince’s daily life during the four months away.
HE may be third-in-line to the throne, an army captain and responsible for attack helicopters worth £45 million, but Prince Harry was not exempt from making the tea in Afghanistan.
Losing the daily round of Uckers, a traditional military board-game, would consign the 28-year-old to a shift of servitude, at the beck and call of his bell-ringing comrades.
The relaxed setting of the Uckers board outside the airmen’s VHR (very high readiness) tent belies both the fierce competitive edge to the game and the ever-present threat of a call to scramble to the Apaches.
Harry and the three other pilots on his flight of two aircraft kick back, eat chocolate, tune in to the radio and swat at the irrepressible flies.
They are surrounded by reminders of the war they are fighting - their benches are propped up on empty ammunition boxes and the wire frames of Hesco defence barriers overhead is a camouflage net giving some much-needed shade. Empty shell cases make perfect ash-trays.
At arm’s reach is always the “Shout” telephone, which triggers a dash to their primed attack helicopters.
Captain Simon Beattie, Harry’s flight commander, explained the Uckers routine: “It’s always the thing we do first in the morning, with my flight.
“And the loser ends up being on call. We ring the bell and they make the brews, and for anyone that comes by.”
The four airmen in Harry’s team were so determined not to suffer the indignity of being the on-call servant, some underhand tactics were not out of the question.
Asked if it was particularly satisfying to force the prince to play butler, Capt Beattie beamed: “Absolutely. Especially when you’ve cheated the whole way round!”
Harry defended his Uckers record amid rumours he was not as good at the game as he is on the PlayStation.
“I don’t know who told you that, it was probably Si,” the royal said to journalists.
“I lost two days ago, and yesterday, so since you guys have been here I’ve only lost.
“I won last night, which was good. Very quickly.”
Similar to Ludo, Uckers is traditionally a Royal Navy game, but it is also very popular in the Army Air Corps.