Concern over Queen's 'criminal' guards
London - Over 450 troops trained to guard Britain's Queen Elizabeth have been convicted of crimes in the last four years.
A total of 465 soldiers from regiments of the Household Division - including the Blues and Royals, in which Prince Harry serves – have been convicted of crimes, ranging from driving offences and going Absent Without Leave (AWOL) to assaults and sex attacks.
The Ministry of Defence said at least 10 men were kicked out of the army – four for violent or sexual offences, three for going AWOL, one for drugs, one for theft.
A spokesperson told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "The vast majority of armed forces personnel serve their country with courage and distinction. As with any organisation of this size, there is inevitably a small proportion who get into trouble."
"All those found to fall short of the Army's high standards or who are found to have committed an offence under the Armed Forces Act are dealt with administratively or through the discipline process."
The Household Division also includes the Life Guards, the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards. Their duties include guarding Buckingham Palace, the queen's residence in London.
There was also a significant rise in troops fleeing from the army, with 35 soldiers going AWOL in 2010, compared to 19 in 2009, which a source said can be attributed to the division undergoing a gruelling six-month tour of Helmand province in Afghanistan.
The source said: "It is true there is a significant leap in AWOLs in 2010 and this almost certainly can be attributed to the Afghan tour, which came when the Taliban were unusually aggressive."