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Prince William ‘personally stepped in to help Afghan officer he knew from Sandhurst’

Prince William ensured the safe passage of a trapped Afghan soldier who he knew from Sandhurst to the UK after hearing of his plight.

The Duke of Cambridge, 39, decided to intervene after hearing that the officer, who he met during his training at the military academy in Berkshire, was trapped in Kabul with his family after the Taliban seized power earlier this month.

The royal’s equerry naval officer Rob Dixon was able to contact personnel in the region and the former cadet, who is thought to have served in the Afghan national army, and his relatives were permitted to board a flight at Kabul airport to Britain. 

The duke’s intervention comes as Britain and America officially ended their military presence in Afghanistan this week – leaving behind hundreds of citizens and Afghan allies desperate to flee the country.  

Prince William, 39, decided to intervene after he heard that an Afghan officer, who he met during his training at Sandhurst, was trapped with his family in Kabul

The officer in Afghanistan had previously worked closely with British troops and his role had left him and his family, which included women and children, in a vulnerable position within the country, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Following his rescue, former paratrooper Major Andrew Fox, said the duke’s intervention was ‘fully in line with what we get taught in the Army in terms of values’.

He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘I myself got 2 Para to rush out into the crowd and grab someone for me.  

‘It’s fully in line with what we get taught in the Army in terms of values, loyalty, respect for others, all that good stuff. We’re trained to help where we can.

‘The situation was so chaotic and was so, frankly, mismanaged, that people would do whatever they could to get out.’ 

Earlier this week, Britain and America officially ended their military presence in Afghanistan with the final US troops flying out from Kabul’s airport.

And a night-vision image showed America’s Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, boarding a military transport as the last US soldier to leave Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

The RAF had made its last evacuation flight on Sunday to give US forces enough time to clear the ground ahead of the deadline set by Joe Biden, bringing to an end a deployment which began in the wake of September 11.

The UK government helped fly some 15,000 people to safety, but stories have emerged of interpreters who helped the armed forces over the last 20 years and even people with British passports stranded behind Taliban checkpoints. 

It is not known precisely how many people who were promised sanctuary in the UK were left behind.

Some 200 American passport holders are now thought to be living under Taliban rule, with an unknown number of Afghans promised sanctuary – thought to number in the thousands – also abandoned.

British and US troops help evacuate  people out of Kabul, Afghanistan, after the Taliban seize power

British and US troops help evacuate  people out of Kabul, Afghanistan, after the Taliban seize power

Hundreds of people try to cross into Pakistan, at Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, this month

Hundreds of people try to cross into Pakistan, at Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, this month

The Taliban held a press conference at Kabul airport on Monday, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (centre) saying the west's retreat should serve as 'a warning' to all future invaders

The Taliban held a press conference at Kabul airport on Monday, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (centre) saying the west’s retreat should serve as ‘a warning’ to all future invaders

‘There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,’ General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said on Monday night. ‘We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out.’

Shortly after US troops left the airport, images emerged of Taliban Badri 313 units – known as the group’s ‘special forces’ – securing the airport while dressed in US-made kit and carrying American weapons – seizing more US helicopters, planes and vehicles in the process. 

On Tuesday morning, senior Taliban figures including spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid gathered at the airstrip for a celebratory press conference – hailing the end of what they called ‘western occupation’.

‘Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all,’ Mujahid told reporters, saying the Taliban’s victory is a ‘lesson for other invaders and for our future generation. It is also a lesson for the world,’ he added. 

Reports suggest many are already fleeing through Pakistan to the east and Iran to the west. The US and UK are still working on arrangements to allow people to be evacuated from these neighbouring countries.  

The departure of American troops means the conflict ends with the Taliban back in power and Afghans deeply uncertain of what the future holds.

In a statement, Biden said the world would be watching how the Taliban behaved.

‘The Taliban has made commitments on safe passage and the world will hold them to their commitments,’ he said, adding that negotiations continued to keep the airport open and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid.

He added that he would address the nation on Tuesday and that his military chiefs had agreed the evacuation should not be extended beyond the deadline.

‘Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead,’ he said.


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