A Breakdown Of How Prince William And Prince Harry's Military Dress Differs

Ever since Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, 2022, the relationships between the members of her family have come under scrutiny. At least one member of the family has effectively lived in disgrace for a few years; Prince Andrew, the King's younger brother, is facing public scorn, and possible criminal exposure, for his alleged activities with Jeffrey Epstein. The king's two sons, Princes William and Harry, are rumored to not be getting along. Additionally, Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle — who is unpopular in Britain, according to Newsweek — have basically left the royal family for a new life in the United States.

That there might be some tension between the king and his youngest son became apparent not long after the queen's death. As CBS News reported, the king had given guidance that only "working members of the royal family" could attend events in their military uniforms. That effectively meant that Harry, though he'd served in the military, had to wear a suit while his brother was dressed in his military finery (Harry did wear his military medals pinned to his suit, however). Also, as Us Magazine reported, Harry was stripped of his military duties in 2020 when he retired from the royal family, and he stopped wearing his military uniform at that time.

The king has since requested that both men wear their military uniforms at the queen's funeral. However, the two princes will have slight variations in their dress, considering the different directions their military careers took.

Why royals wear military uniforms

Before getting into parsing the differences between Harry's and William's military uniforms, a brief look at why royals wear military uniforms at all is in order.

The first and most obvious reason for this fondness for military uniforms is that many royals do and did serve in the military, including King Charles himself, who served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force for six years, according to CNN. As previously mentioned, William and Harry both served, as did their uncle, Prince Andrew (who served in the Royal Navy).

Apart from actual military service, it's possible for royals to accumulate various honorary military titles and commands. For example, according to Slate, Princess Anne, though she never served in the military, is allowed to wear parts of a military uniform because she's accrued a few honorary military titles over the years. Also, royals who actually served can also accumulate honorary titles and commands; King Charles was at one time the honorary colonel in chief of over a dozen military regiments.

Prince William's service and uniform

As Newsweek reports, Prince William enrolled in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as an officer cadet back in 2005, and after his training, left with his officer's commission. He then went on to serve in the Household Cavalry (Blues and Royals) and actually commanded other troops. He also served for a while as a search-and-rescue pilot, and at one point he even saw duty in the Falkland Islands. After his military career, he worked as an air ambulance pilot.

As Hello! Magazine reported, during the procession of Queen Elizabeth's coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, William wore his military uniform while, as expected, Harry wore civilian clothes, albeit with multiple military medals attached to his uniform. William's outfit, considering that it was military finery, also included various medals, including his Garter Star (described as "the most senior knighthood in the British honours system") and various medals awarded to him by his grandmother, the queen, during her reign.

Prince Harry's service and uniform

As Newsweek reports, Harry, like his older brother, also served in the military, including by going to the same military school (Sandhurst) and joining the same regiment (Blues and Royals). He was in the military for ten years, and even saw combat in Afghanistan. As such, he's racked up quite a few medals, and Hello! Magazine points out that he was spotted at the queen's funeral procession with more medals pinned to his civvies than his brother had pinned to his uniform, including a medal for his service in Afghanistan, where William did not serve.

Since Prince Harry has been in civilian clothes for all public-facing events related to Queen Elizabeth's death, it remains uncertain, as of this writing, what Harry will wear when he dons his military finery for the queen's funeral, at the pleasure and command of his father, King Charles. However, for precedent, we can look at what he wore at his wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018. At the time, as The New York Times reported, his uniform was that of a Major, and included his flying wings and, like his brother, various medals awarded by his grandmother, the late queen.