The royal has been in the country since December, British army officials tell PEOPLE

Credit: John Stillwell/AP

Prince Harry has been fighting the Taliban on the frontline in Afghanistan, British army officials have confirmed to PEOPLE.

The Prince, 23, a second lieutenant in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, has spent the last 10 weeks in the lawless Helmand province of the war-torn country.

The prince’s spokesman Paddy Harverson says in a statement: “Prince Harry is very proud to serve his country on operations alongside his fellow soldiers and to do the job he has been trained for.”

He arrived on Christmas Eve and into one of the most dangerous places in the fight against terror. He was soon on foot patrol, alongside elite and fearless Ghurka fighters.

On the eve of his departure, he told a pooled interview that it was his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, who told him that he had his marching order.

Mission Was Secret

The Palace and the Ministry of Defense in the U.K. had hoped to keep the mission secret in order to safeguard his life and those of his fellow soldiers.

But some foreign outlets started reporting the story on Feb. 28 – including media in Australia and Germany – and the officials moved to confirm the news.

The prince has always made it clear that he wanted to take his place in the frontline and was bitterly disappointed when he was not able to go to Iraq last spring. At the Concert for Diana he gave a shout-out to those colleagues who had gone without him.