Apparently applying the adage "Any publicity is good publicity, especially if your magazine's name is transcendentally insipid," the Australian women's weekly New Idea defied an officially-requested news embargo on January 7 and revealed that Britain's Prince Harry was serving a tour of combat duty in Afghanistan.
After the story was picked up in the worldwide media, the prince was transferred back home for his own safety, and arrived in London on March 1.
Or did he?
Conspiracy theorists are having a field day with the story, as evidenced by these excerpts from letters to the Military Security Consultancy Division here at The Spoof:
- "... There's no reason to believe that Harry is actually back in Britain. The BBC's image of 'the prince's plane landing at a base near London' could have been any military aircraft landing anywhere in the world.
And that sequence where we see William packing the trunk of a car and getting in the back seat with his brother -- it looks suspiciously like footage we saw in coverage of their vacation trip to Ibiza with Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen in 2006, right before Mary Kate went into rehab. The car is the same model and colour and William is wearing the same clothes, although he is rumoured to be in the habit of wearing one outfit day after day until his butler throws it out, holding it at arm's length on the way to the bin.
Also, Kate Middleton's housekeeper reports having heard rhythmic moaning from her bedroom at exactly the time the two princes were supposedly meeting with their father. And her iPod was on the coffee table in the sitting room, so it wasn't her singing along to Megadeth again.
Obviously, Second Lieutenant Wales is still in Afghanistan under Taliban fire..."
And then there's this one:
- "... Don't believe it for a second! Harry never set foot in Afghanistan at all!
The royals aren't going to risk the life of their third in line! And here's the proof: if you look closely at that shot where he's kneeling by an armoured vehicle, supposedly somewhere near Kandahar, you'll notice that behind him is EXACTLY THE SAME background as for the Apollo moon landing in 1969..."
Although they seem to be contradictory, not to mention certifiable, both of these speculations are actually correct.
The deployment of Prince Harry to Afghanistan has been one of the most elaborate security ruses ever undertaken by the UK military and intelligence services.
In late December they released a false statement claiming that he was stationed in Afghanistan, complete with a needless news blackout. Then they kept him confined to barracks, which incidentally led to the bankruptcy of three London nightclubs that had been the last profitable businesses owned by the Northern Rock Group, and they "leaked" the story to New Idea, waited till it made the rounds and then fabricated his homecoming with one of his six stand-ins, a decoy team of ginger mumblers in the employ of MI9.
Meanwhile the real Harry was on his way to his present post near the Khyber Pass, where he will remain until noon (local time) on July 11th.
And Buckingham Palace has made all of us newspeople sign internationally binding contracts that we won't reveal under penalty of imprisonment that he's really now on duty with the Garden Shed Cavalry's Blues and Rhythm regiment, working out of a base camp located at 68°10' N latitude and 55°04' W longitude.
Also, we're not supposed to mention that he usually wears a big bright yellow and orange scarf over his camouflage fatigues and likes to ride in jeeps with no helmet or body armor, standing up, yelling and waving his arms.