Palace denies Prince Harry joining Australian army

Palace denies Prince Harry joining Australian army

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Palace denies Prince Harry joining Australian army

Britain's Prince Harry poses with Tatyana McFadden (R) of the U.S., winner of the women's wheelchair class of the London Marathon, during the victory presentation on the Mall in central London, April 21, 2013. REUTERS photo

British royal officials on Thursday dismissed media reports that Prince Harry is to spend six months on assignment to the Australian army.

Australia's News Limited newspapers had reported that planning was under way for Harry, third in line to the throne, to be formally embedded in an Australian army unit or make an extended visit as an observer.

But a spokeswoman for his St James's Palace office told AFP: "There are no such plans. He is still very much engaged in the military here. It's business as usual." Harry, 28, is an Apache attack helicopter gunner with the British army and has served twice in Afghanistan.

He stirred controversy on returning from his second tour of duty in January by joking that his skill at computer games had helped him to kill Taliban fighters.

His first tour, serving on the ground as a forward air controller, was cut short in 2008 after foreign media outlets broke a carefully arranged blackout.

Harry spent part of his gap year in Australia in 2003, working as a farm hand or "jackaroo" in the outback.

His grandmother Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of 16 Commonwealth realms, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.