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Prince Harry is escorted by his father, Prince Charles, right, and his brother, Prince William, centre background, as he leaves the Royal Air Force's Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire. ((Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press))

The Queen's grandson, Prince Harry, praised the bravery of his fellow soldiers as "humbling" upon his return home from Afghanistan on Saturday  after serving with his British army regiment in the fight against the Taliban.

Harry arrived at the Brize Norton air base in central England, where he was greeted by his father, Prince Charles, and older brother, Prince William.

The decision to withdraw Harry was made by the Defence Ministry in London after news leaked on the internet that he had been secretly fighting in Afghanistan for 10 weeks.

Speaking shortly after his arrival home, Harry said he has already asked his commanding officer to approve a new mission to Afghanistan and added his deployment could set a precedent for his brother to serve in active operations with the British navy in the future.

"I would love to go back out and I've already mentioned it to him that I want to go out very, very soon," Harry said.

He said his men were "gutted" when they learned he would be pulled away from the mission because of the leak, but added he was grateful the British media honoured the agreement to keep his deployment a secret for so long.

"Angry would be the wrong word to use, but I am slightly disappointed," he said. "I thought I could see it through to the end and come back with our guys."

The ministry said on Friday that worldwide media coverage of Harry's posting could have risked his and his colleagues' safety. It said the prince, 23, had been due to return "in a matter of weeks" when the self-imposed media blackout was broken.

Harry, who has the rank of cornet, or second lieutenant, in the Household Cavalry, arrived at the base in a Royal Air Force troop carrier with about 170 other soldiers, whose tours of duty were not cut short.

The prince, still wearing combat fatigues, chatted to a colleague as he walked down the aircraft's steps and headed to a terminal building, where he was reunited with his father and brother.

"It's obviously marvellous to see him back, and I'm enormously proud of what he's done, but I do so understand now what it's like for so many other families and the loved ones of those who are serving abroad on operations, what they have to endure," Prince Charles said at the base.

Harry, third in line for the British throne, had been stationed in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province. His work involved foot patrols and calling in air strikes on Taliban positions. He spent part of his deployment at a base 500 metres from Taliban positions.

The prince, in interviews released on Friday, joked that he was a "bullet magnet" because enemies would try to kill him if they knew his whereabouts.

Harry's deployment made him the first British royal to see frontline action since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew as a naval helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina.

The Defence Ministry said on Saturday that Prince William, second in line to the throne, is also likely to serve overseas with the military, probably on board a Royal Navy warship.

Officials said he could be deployed later this year on a tour to areas  including the South Atlantic, the Persian Gulf, the Pacific Ocean or the West Indies.

With files from the Associated Press