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Tuesday, 21 May 2024
Royals to forgo military gear at Philip’s funeral ‘to avoid embarrassing Harry’
Prince Harry (right) marches before receiving a campaign medal for his army service in Afghanistan in 2008.

Duke of Sussex faced being the only senior male royal not in uniform, despite serving in Afghanistan

Senior members of the royal family will not wear military uniform at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, in a break with tradition designed to avoid embarrassing Prince Harry, according to reports.

The Duke of Sussex, who lost his military titles after stepping down as a senior working royal, faced being the only senior male royal not in uniform, despite having served two tours in Afghanistan.

Protocol dictates that he should wear civilian dress, although he would be allowed to wear his medals.

The no-uniform rule would also quell an internal palace row over whether the Duke of York should be allowed to wear the uniform of an admiral to the funeral on Saturday.

Prince Andrew, who stepped back from public duties following the controversy over his friendship with the disgraced financial and sexual offender Jeffrey Epstein, was due to be promoted to the rank of admiral in 2020 to mark his 60th birthday, but this did not go ahead following the fallout from his disastrous Newsnight appearance.

Buckingham Palace is expected to announce further details of the funeral later on Thursday, including about attire. But sources told the Sun the Queen had decided the simplest way was for all senior royals to wear civilian clothing – mourning dress for the men and black ties.

It was “the most eloquent solution to the problem”, a military source told the Sun.

Prince Andrew, 61, had reportedly ruffled feathers at Buckingham Palace by raising questions over which uniform he was entitled to wear. He had been made an honorary vice-admiral in the Royal Navy on his 55th birthday, and was due to be promoted, but offered to defer it until after he returned to public duties.

A source close to Andrew told the newspaper: “The Duke of York is very keenly aware of Saturday’s funeral being a moment for the Duke of Edinburgh, HM and the nation. He has neither wish nor intention to distract from that. Speculation on what he may or may not wear is just that, speculation, and no matters of this nature have yet been decided upon.

“The Duke of York will do what is appropriate to the circumstances – he remains stepped back from royal duties.”

On previous formal occasions, Harry, 36, has worn the frock coat uniform of the Blues and Royals, his old army regiment, which he wore for his wedding. However, since relinquishing royal duties, he has been forced to give up his honorary military titles, including that of Captain General of the Royal Marines, a position formerly held by Prince Philip.

Andrew joined the Royal Navy in 1979 and served in the Falklands war as a helicopter pilot, completing his active naval career in 2001. Other senior royals, including Princess Anne, are entitled to wear the ceremonial uniforms of the honorary military ranks bestowed on them.

At a ceremonial royal funeral like Prince Philip’s, it has been traditional for uniforms to be worn. They were worn at the last ceremonial royal funeral, that of the Queen Mother. However, a no-uniform rule was adopted for the private family funeral of Princess Margaret, when mourning dress was worn, and for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was by then no longer an official member of the royal family.

The decision is a break with tradition for ceremonial royal funerals and will contrast with the strong military presence that will be on show to honour the duke, who served with distinction in the second world war.

source: Caroline Davies