Unlike the United States, where veterans often wear a uniform for special occasions, retired British military personnel are only permitted to wear a uniform if they are in an honorary designation and are authorized to wear a uniform. Instead, they wear their military medals pinned to civilian clothing.
They are also expected to wear it on other major occasions marking the Queen’s death, including the vigil at Westminster Hall, the state funeral on Monday and the commissioning message at St George’s Chapel, Windsor later that day. Prince William, who is now heir to the throne, is expected to wear a military uniform.
Prince Andrew will not wear Uniform for any event except one. According to the Palace, he will wear a uniform during the vigil at Westminster Hall as a special sign of respect for the Queen.
A Sussex spokesperson said on Tuesday that Prince Harry will wear a morning suit to all occasions to honor his grandmother.
“His contract of military service is not determined by the dress he wears and we respectfully request that the focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” the spokesperson added.
Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne, was not in uniform during Wednesday’s parade. He is not a working king and he did not serve in the army.
Service in war
More than a year later, the debate is still a sensitive topic, especially since Harry and Andrew are the only children and grandchildren of the Queen 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 captain of HMS Coatsmore. He participated in the Falklands War. While he left active duty with the Royal Navy in July 2001, he continued to wear the uniform during ceremonial occasions as a working monarch due to his honorary titles.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry served in the British Army for 10 years. He completed two tours in Afghanistan, attained the rank of captain in 2011 and qualified as an Apache pilot. Captain Harry Wells, as he was known in the Army, retired from the Army in 2015.
As a working monarch, he also continued to wear his military uniform while attending royal ceremonies — such as when he donned the House Knights’ blues and royals to his 2018 wedding. He stopped wearing the 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 was never involved in active warfare. Prince William worked for more than seven years as a search and rescue pilot.
Princess Anne and Prince Edward have never served in the military, but both hold honorary titles.
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