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Prince Harry and Prince Andrew might be the only living members of Queen Elizabeth II’s immediate family to have served in the military in wartime, but strict royal protocols meant they did not wear a uniform during the monarch’s funeral.

Buckingham Palace said that only working members of the royal family would wear military uniform for the big ceremonial events taking place during the mourning period for the Queen. Since both Harry and Andrew have stepped away from their royal duties, they wore civilian clothes, despite being retired service members.

Unlike in the US, where veterans often wear uniforms for special occasions, retired British military personnel are not allowed to wear uniform unless they are in an honorary appointment and have been authorized to wear one. Instead, they wear their military medals pinned to civilian clothes.

King Charles III, his sister Princess Anne and his youngest brother Prince Edward have worn uniforms at several events in the past few days. This included the service of thanksgiving at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh last Monday, Wednesday’s procession to Westminster Hall, a vigil at Westminster Hall held on Friday and the state funeral and committal service on Monday.

Prince William, who is now the heir to the throne, was also in military dress.

Andrew and Harry did not wear uniform for these events apart from when they attended their respective vigils at Westminster Hall – Andrew on Friday alongside his siblings and Harry on Saturday evening with the Queen’s other grandchildren.

Prince Andrew wore a uniform alongside his siblings during the vigil on Friday.
Prince Harry wore a uniform during the vigil on Saturday evening.

Buckingham Palace said Andrew wore the uniform as a special mark of respect for the Queen. A royal source told CNN on Friday that Harry would wear the uniform at the King’s request.

Prince Harry wore a morning suit throughout the other events honoring his grandmother.

A Sussex spokesperson said Tuesday that Harry’s “decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears.”

“We respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” the spokesperson added.

Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne, was also not wearing a uniform during the ceremonial events. He is not a working royal and has not served in the military.

Serving in war

The debate around who does and doesn’t get to wear a uniform at big royal events first emerged last year during the preparations for the funeral of Prince Philip – the Queen’s husband of 73 years – when some British media reported Prince Andrew wished to wear an admiral’s uniform. In a break from tradition, no family members ended up wearing military uniform for the funeral, averting a potential awkwardness.

Prince William and Prince Harry follow the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during the procession on Wednesday.

More than a year later, the discussion remains a sensitive topic, especially since Harry and Andrew are the only two of the Queen’s children and grandchildren to have fought in a war.

Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son, served in the Royal Navy for 22 years as a helicopter pilot and instructor and then as a commander of naval ship HMS Cottesmore. He took part in the Falklands War. While he left active service with the Royal Navy in July 2001, he continued to wear uniform during ceremonial events as a working royal because of his honorary titles.

But in 2019 he stepped back from his royal duties over his ties to disgraced financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Earlier this year, he was stripped of his military titles and charities after a judge ruled a sexual abuse civil lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre against him could proceed. Andrew later settled the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Prince Harry served in the British Army for 10 years. He completed two tours of Afghanistan, achieved the rank of captain in 2011 and qualified as an Apache Aircraft commander. Captain Harry Wales, as he was known in the Army, retired from the Army in 2015.

As a working royal, he too continued to wear his uniform while attending royal ceremonies – such as when he donned his Blues and Royals Household Cavalry uniform for his 2018 wedding. He stopped wearing a uniform after stepping back from his royal duties in 2020.

While King Charles III served with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force for six years, he never took part in an active war. Prince William served for more than seven years as a search and rescue pilot.

Princess Anne and Prince Edward never served in the military, but both hold honorary titles.

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