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ROYAL-TEA IN A WARZONE; NEW INSIGHT INTO CAPTAIN WALES' LIFE IN THE ARMY AND HAVING TO MAKE A BREW FOR EVERYONE.

Byline: JAMES EDGAR newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

HE may be third in line to the throne, an army captain and responsible for attack helicopters worth PS45m but Prince Harry was not exempt from making the tea in Afghanistan.

Previously unseen pictures give a new insight into Harry's life as an army captain in Afghanistan, showing the young Royal queuing for food, donning a Christmas hat and playing games to decide who makes the next brew.

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.

"Whoever loses that becomes the Brew Bitch and then you have to make brews for everybody all day," Harry said.

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 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, explains 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 for anyone that comes by."

The four airmen in Harry's team are 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 told 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.

After a gruelling mission over the Afghan desert, the Prince and his fellow Apache pilots unwind over a movie in their communal tent.

But far from choosing some light relief to distract them from the daily stresses of battle, the soldiers watch films like Platoon, Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. Also among the collection are the Daniel Craig James Bond films Casino Royal and Quantum of Solace and the first three Bourne films starring Matt Damon.

Perhaps surprisingly, Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down - in which two US helicopters are shot down in Somalia - is also nestling in the stack.

At meal times, Prince Harry joins his comrades for dinner at the Camp Bastion cookhouse.

With silver service at Buckingham Palace all but a distant memory, the royal queues up alongside squaddies and officers alike to pile hearty "scoff" on to a paper plate.

Wearing his combat uniform, the 28-year-old opts for chicken, broccoli, cheesy potatoes and salad before pulling up a collapsible metal chair to tuck into his meal with plastic cutlery at a table with a red and white plastic cloth.

And as the Helmand base is completely alcohol-free, Harry chooses water to wash down his meal.

At the end of each table lie piles of SA80 rifles because security rules on the military base dictate troops must be within arm's reach of their loaded weapons.

The cookhouse, also known as the D-Fac (dining facility), serves up thousands of meals a day for the servicemen and women at Camp Bastion.

Breakfast is available from 5.30am to 8.30am every day and consists of a full English fry-up, porridge, Danish pastries, cereals, fruit and toast.

For lunch, the troops can choose from a sandwich bar, with cold meats and salads, a range of hot meals, and desserts such as yoghurt, doughnuts or fruit.

The menu for dinner, served between 6pm and 8pm, has an array of hot dishes - from curries to joints of beef and lamb to fish and chips - and hot and cold puddings, including crumble, chocolate brownies, lemon meringue pie and ice cream.

The D-Fac caters mainly for the British troops based at Bastion but servicemen and women from the Norwegian, Estonian, United States and Georgian forces also have the option of eating there.

And they are never left hungry. The aircrew has an endless supply of snacks and drinks from Mars bars to Mini Cheddar biscuits and fruit yoghurt to muffins.

With regular deliveries, the soldiers are often left with a surplus of goodies, which Harry revealed were useful bargaining chips with the American troops in neighbouring Camp Leatherneck. By trading their Rice Krispies Squares, Nutri-Grain bars and KitKats, the pilots got their hands on fresh ground coffee, Hershey's chocolate and M&Ms.

Welsh Guards honoured: Pages 18&19

CAPTION(S):

Prince Harry or just plain Captain Wales as he is known in the British Army, including, top right, playing a game of Uckers in the VHR (very high readiness) tent with fellow pilots
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 27, 2013
Words:923
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