LONDON – Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, who arrived back in Britain on Monday night from serving in the army in Afghanistan, said he has killed Taliban fighters, to "take a life to save a life."
The prince, 28, a gunner in Apache helicopters, said he had taken the enemy "out of the game" during his deployment.
He served in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, supporting allied troops fighting the Taliban at close quarters and accompanying British Chinook and U.S. Black Hawk helicopters on daring casualty evacuation missions.
"Yeah, so lots of people have," he told reporters after being asked if he had killed from the cockpit, in remarks distributed by the Press Association newswire. "The squadron's been out here. Everyone's fired a certain amount."
"Take a life to save a life," the prince said. "That's what we revolve around, I suppose. "If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game, I suppose."
He insisted killing the enemy was not what motivated him to become an attack helicopter pilot. Serving with British forces in Afghanistan makes him the first royal to fight in a war zone in more than 25 years.
"It's not the reason I decided to do this job," he said. "The reason to do this job was to get back out here and carry on with a job."
Harry, the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, made tabloid headlines when younger as a serial partygoer, clashing with paparazzi photographers outside nightclubs in 2004 and turning up at a costume affair in a Nazi uniform. Pictures from that event drew condemnation from politicians inside and outside Britain.
The prince said in the remarks released Monday he had "let himself and his family down" when in August a U.S. website published photographs of the naked royal with friends in a Las Vegas hotel room. Harry was pictured wearing only a medallion and a wristband, with a naked woman in each shot.
Life in the army is "as normal as it's going to get," he said, adding he relishes having the chance to share duties as "one of the guys." He complained about how the media handle reporting of the royal family calling it "rubbish," adding that he hopes his sister-in-law, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, is left alone to enjoy her pregnancy.
Harry, who was in Afghanistan when it was announced that his elder brother, Prince William, and his wife, who is known as Kate, are expecting a baby in July, said he is "thrilled" for the couple and "can't wait to be an uncle."
Harry, known as Capt. Wales while in the military, was given no special treatment during his tour, and he worked, rested, ate and slept in exactly the same conditions as the other pilots in his squadron. He flew in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police fighters. Britain is due to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.