Following the news leak of Prince Harry's posting to Afghanistan, Britain's top military official on Friday immediately ordered the prince home.
The news of Harry's deployment was leaked by the Web site the Drudge Report.
Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, chief of the Defense Staff, said he decided to withdraw the prince after senior commanders assessed the risks, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Harry had been serving on the front line in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province with a British army unit. He was scheduled to return within a few weeks.
Harry is the third in line to the British throne.
Military commanders say their decision was based on the concern that further media coverage might put Harry and his comrades at increased risk.
The defense ministry asked the media not to speculate on Harry's location and on how and when he would return to Britain. Once the prince has arrived back in the country, the media is free to file any reports.
Foreign Media Leak
British military officials had hoped to keep Prince Harry's deployment to Afghanistan a secret until he had safely returned. However, after the leak appeared on the Drudge Report, the ministry released video of him serving in Helmand Province, walking on patrol, talking on a radio and firing a heavy machine gun.
He spent part of his deployment at a base 500 yards from Taliban positions, the military said.
The Helmand province has seen some of the fiercest fighting. NATO-led forces are continuing to fight Taliban units and al-Qaeda militants there.
The ministry regrets the leak, but said in a statement "this was a circumstance that we have always been aware of and one for which we have had contingency plans in place."
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the prince had demonstrated that he was an exemplary young officer. "The whole of Britain will be proud of the outstanding service he is giving," he said.
Harry, 23, is the first royal to serve in a combat zone since his uncle Prince Andrew flew helicopters during Britain's war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands in 1982.
Tours to Afghanistan usually last six months. Harry got to serve ten weeks.
During a filmed interview last week, Harry said that when he returns to Britain he could become a "top target" for Islamic terrorists.
"Once this. comes out, every single person that supports them will be trying to slot me," he said.
The deployment plan had been disclosed to reporters, with no specific date, but was not reported previously because of an agreement between the Ministry of Defense and all major news organizations operating in Britain, including The Associated Press.
Harry was supposed to go to Iraq with his Blues and Royals regiment last year. The assignment was cancelled due to security fears.
After learning that his Iraq assignment had been scrubbed, the prince threatened to quit the army if he was not given the chance to see combat.
A Jealous Future King?
Harry said his older brother, William, who also graduated from Sandhurst and is training as a military pilot, is jealous of his deployment. Prince William will probably not ever see combat due to his likelihood of becoming the future king of the United Kingdom.
Since Harry's arrival, his battle group has been responsible for around 30 enemy deaths, a Ministry of Defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because he was not authorized to release the information.
Source: Associated Press.