AC: "on any given day, in war, it's all about a matter of inches."

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Soledad O'Brien asks Michael (and Nic Robertson) to comment on Prince Harry being pulled out of Afghanistan due to yesterday's internet gossip report revealing he was there.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news is what we start with.

The royal who went to war in Afghanistan is now heading home as we speak. Just moments ago, we got our first look courtesy of the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense at Prince Harry getting ready to board an RAF transport back to Britain.

And, as take in these new pictures, we're also learning a little bit more about his mission and the aborted plans to send him to Iraq and the reception that he can expect when he's back in the U.K., both warm and cold.

CNN's Nic Robertson is working the late details for us. Michael Ware lends his combat perspective. We're going to check in with both of them.

We begin, though, tonight with Harry's homecoming. The warrior prince is no longer on the front lines, no longer fighting the war in Afghanistan. Today, the British government decided to evacuate him immediately after word of his mission was leaked on the Internet and then reported by news organizations, including this one, CNN.

Meanwhile, the fallout over his deployment and the decision to remove him continues to grow. It's a story that is generating heated reaction here in the U.S. and in the U.K. We will get to that and all the latest developments in just a moment.

First, though, more on his once-secret mission, including the new video of the prince in combat.

For that, we get right to CNN's Nic Robertson, who's reporting.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Combat rations fit for a prince, but hardly the royal treatment, warmed-up instant meals in a bag, about as good as it got for Prince Harry.

PRINCE HARRY, GREAT BRITAIN: Rations is miserable. Been on rations now for -- I can't even remember how long.

ROBERTSON: Ten weeks at the front in combat with the Taliban, a prince at war.

At his first base, Commander Mark Milford.

COMMANDER MARK MILFORD: At the moment, we can process enough water to wash and shave every three days. And, so, the washing area and shaving area is immediately behind me, and just over to the side there, you have the shower cubicles that have been knocked up with a bit of plywood.

PRINCE HARRY: I haven't really had a shower for four days. I haven't washed my clothes for a week, and everything seems completely normal.

ROBERTSON: Normal for his unit. One of his buddies woke up with a mouse in his mouth. Snakes were a constant danger, too. But it was the rain and freezing nights that seemed to get him down the most.

PRINCE HARRY: Typically British. Last week, we were complaining it's too cold. And now there's people already complaining it's too hot.

ROBERTSON: In the sun, he played ball to beat boredom. He was just one of the guys talking about war and tactics. Little doubt he will soon be briefing a top British general; his father, Prince Charles.

PRINCE HARRY: My father is very keen on me reporting back as the mole.

ROBERTSON: Harry's brief will likely recommend more calls home. Even the prince had to worry about his phone minutes, only 30 a week. A call home this day a tonic for a homesick soldier.

PRINCE HARRY: It's not a case of the longer you go on, the worse it gets, because the longer you go on, the closer you are to going home. And everyone here is looking forward to going home.


O'BRIEN: Let's get right back to Nic Robertson, who joins us live from London, along with CNN's Michael Ware, who is in Baghdad tonight.

Nic, let's start with you.

We were looking at some of those brand-new pictures of Prince Harry leaving Afghanistan. Tell me a little bit more about that.

ROBERTSON: Well, you can see he still hasn't had his hair cut. When we saw him on the front lines just a few days ago, he was unshaven, very sunburned. His hair was a matted mess. He looks like he's given a wash.

But he doesn't look very happy. He's sitting there at what appears to be Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan with all the British troops waiting to catch a flight home. But when you look closely at his face, he doesn't look really pleased about being there. He really wanted to stay longer. It's clearly that this news coming out has upset him and the decision to send him home clearly is not one that is going to sit well with him -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: No. Clearly, he's going to be furious about that.

Michael, let me ask you a question. There was talk, we know now, that in fact Prince Harry would be sent into Iraq. It was deemed to be too risky. Why was Afghanistan considered much safer? I mean, Afghanistan is very dangerous now as well.


And I have no insight into the decision-making process of either the royal family or the British Ministry of Defense. All I can tell you, having spent far too much time in both battlefronts, is that, tragically, it's too easy to be killed or maimed in either of these theaters, be it Iraq or be it Afghanistan.

Both are extremely violent places. We're seeing the attacks against the coalition forces in Afghanistan on the rise. The Brits have taken very heavy losses here. They have been very much at the forefront of the fight.

And, in Basra, that's also been a wretchedly bloody place for the Brits. So, it's no win either way you go. However, in Basra, you can say that the Brits have retreated or pulled back to the airport by and large. So, their combat power is not moving through the city. Afghanistan, you can stick someone out in a remote base that is little noticed.

Nonetheless, like I say, on any given day, in war, it's all about a matter of inches -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You know, Nic, that kind of brings you to the point of, why would he do this? You were describing the mouse some soldier found in his mouth and the snakes. It's not -- as a prince, he certainly didn't have to. So, why?

ROBERTSON: He really didn't have to.

Number one, it appears this was really his passion, to be a soldier, trained as an officer, wants to serve with his troops. But one of the fascinating things about all of this, when you listen to a lot of his comments on the videotapes, this is, as he's describing it, his first chance to be a normal person, where he's away from the media.

He says it's great where he's not reading the newspapers, great that he's not having people writing things about him every day. He's in the headlines here all the time. He's escaped all of that. But it really does seem to be about his passion for the military and just being a normal person, talking about normal things.

Let's face it. He hasn't really had a normal life. He's been in the spotlight. His mother was killed. His mother died in that car crash. It was something -- is something he will escape, the publicity surrounding that. His father is going to be king. His brother will one day be king. He will never be normal.

This is the closest he's ever going to get to it -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Well, the closest for 10 weeks, and then won't be normal again when it's leaked by the media.

Michael, I have got to ask you a question. He has made it clear that he would like to get back to the front lines. Do you think in any way that's realistic?

WARE: Well, I would imagine that would be quite difficult, particularly the way his cover was betrayed in this instance.

I mean, the only protection he and the mates beside him would have had would have been deception, would have been the fact that their enemies did not know he was there, because you can bet your life that he would have been targeted or that base would have been given an extra special bit of attention.

So, I would imagine it will be extremely difficult now. They would have no faith in the media. And, certainly, Britain's enemies would be alert to any possibility of having a prince on the front line now. But you have got to take your hat off to Prince Harry. Anyone who's prepared to stand up and be a digger, to put on that uniform and to serve in whatever capacity in these violent wars, then you have to give them some modicum of respect -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Nic, he spoke pretty bluntly about now being a target of the Taliban because he was fighting in Afghanistan. Do you think that that's true, now, when he returns to England?

ROBERTSON: It does appear to be so.

Security experts here are certainly going to give him more security, and they will believe and listen perhaps more carefully to some of those threats that Prince Harry mentioned. He said the royal family get a number of threats. So, he is going to probably, when he goes out, get perhaps a little more security attention. He will get a lot more attention from the paparazzi here in London, who will be keen to start chasing him around and photographing him again.

The reality here is, is, though, some radical Islamist Web sites have already said that he should be targeted, targeted for what he was doing in Afghanistan. That does seem to be the assessment. The assessment here is, though, that, perhaps while he's still a relatively junior officer, there's still a reasonable chance he may get back to the front lines again in the not-too-distant future -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Nic Robertson and Michael Ware for us tonight, thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate the time.