So for the last 300 years or so, the three real functions of the monarch have been to: Sit on the throne; Shut up and look regal for the benefit of the lumpen masses; Produce the next throne sitter and a spare or two for good measure (accidents or American divorcees happen)
The heir to the throne is groomed to do these things. Function iii can be of course be performed while waiting for functions i and ii, but it can be a long wait – Prince Charles may well be in his seventies before he becomes Charles III. In the meantime he has plenty of time to rail at modern architecture.
The heir’s siblings,however, are just reserves in the event of anything happening. In the past a younger sibling did have a reasonable chance of becoming king or queen (Henry VIII was a spare, Elizabeth I succeeded her sister William IV succeeded his brother and so on) but the last time a spare was unwrapped and given the crown was in 1936 when Edward VIII abdicated.
It is unlikely that Harry will be anything other than a prince. So where does that leave him? He is irrelevant to the succession so he has chosen a profession that many of his predecessors have chosen in the past – he has joined the military. At present he is known as Cornet Wales (cornet is an old term for a second lieutenant in a cavalry troop. It is still used in the regiments of the Household Cavalry). His regiment, the Blues and Royals is scheduled to undertake a six month tour in Iraq.
Whether or not Harry will join his regiment in Iraq been a matter of serious debate even though it was always clear that the Blues and Royals would be deployed to a conflict zone during his service. The regiment is due to depart for Iraq within days, the Prince's posting has become the subject of fraught negotiations between the Ministry of Defence, the Army and Clarence House. The head of the Army, Sir Richard Dannatt, will decide (if he hasn’t already done so) whether to permit his deployment. His decision will surely be based on an assessment of the dangers to Harry but also to those who might face extra risks because he is in their midst.
Should he go to Iraq Harry's most likely role will be long-range reconnaissance patrolling in Maysan on the Iran border, something that has been considered a relatively safe duty (or at least safer than patrolling the streets of Basra). Having said that two troopers were killed this month in Maysan in an attack which might have been a "dry run" for a similar attempt on Harry's life.
Militias have boasted that they are preparing to capture or kill the Prince. One group claims it will send him home to his grandmother without his ears. Most of these are probably empty threats but it seems likely that the opportunity to kill or, better still, capture a member of the royal family will be too tempting a prospect for an insurgent to pass up. I can only imagine that attacks on British forces in Iraq will increase considerably leading to the loss of more of his comrades.than may have been the case if he were not there.
The Guardian and other papers are reporting that additional special forces are being deployed to Iraq to monitor militia activity so the indications are that he will be going.
Whether the British Army should be in Iraq or whether we should have a monarchy in this day and age are different issues