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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Explained: Why senior British Royals will not wear their military uniforms at Prince Philip’s funeral

Several Royals hold titles in the British Army, Navy and Air Force, and appear in uniform at formal events. Their civilian dresses will be specially remarkable at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, who served in the navy for 12 years.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
April 15, 2021 9:04:09 pm
Prince Philip funeral, Prince Philip funeral dress code, Prince Philip funeral date and time, Prince Philip funeral no military uniforms, prince harry Prince Philip funeral, prince andrew Prince Philip funeral, express explained, indian expressKing's Troup Royal Horse Artillery rehearses on the long walk towards Windsor Castle in Windsor, April 15, for the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip. (Photo: AP)

In a break from tradition, senior members of the British royal family will not wear their military uniforms at the funeral of Prince Philip, to take place on April 17 at Windsor Castle.

Several members of the Royal Family hold titles in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and appear in their uniforms at formal events. Their civilian dresses will be specially remarkable at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, who served in the Royal Navy for 12 years, including during World War II, was decorated for his services, and will be getting a military send-off.

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So why will the Royals dress differently for Prince Philip’s funeral?

The decision has been taken by Queen Elizabeth in a bid to save embarrassment to Prince Harry, her grandson and Duke of Sussex, and avoid potential embarrassment involving Prince Andrew, her second son and Duke of York.

Prince Harry lost his military titles after he stepped away from his royal duties last year. Protocol thus dictates that while he can still wear his medals, he can’t wear his uniform, and would have had to wear the medals on a civilian dress, making him the only senior Royal not in uniform.

Prince Harry has served in the British Army for a decade, including twice in Afghanistan. However, when he gave up his royal duties, he was stripped of his three honorary titles – Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command.

Prince Andrew, meanwhile, had to step back from public royal duties following the scandal over his friendship with sexual offender Jeffrey Epstein, and a controversial interview he later gave in his defence to Newsnight.

While Andrew has not been stripped of his military titles, he was due to be promoted to the rank of admiral in 2020, to mark his 60th birthday, which did not happen. He is at present honorary vice-admiral in the Royal Navy, but according to reports, wanted to wear an admiral’s uniform.

The Queen, thus, has decided no one wears uniforms, in what a source told The Sun was “the most eloquent solution to the problem”.

Sources close to Prince Andrew, however, have said speculation over what he might wear is “just that, speculation.”

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“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,” a source told The Guardian.

Who else among the senior royals has military titles?

The Queen’s son Charles, Prince of Wales; the Queen’s daughter Anne, Princess Royal; Charles’s son Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; and Charles’s brother Edward, Earl of Wessex; all hold military titles.

Military uniforms were worn at the last ceremonial royal funeral, that of the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth’s mother.

Prince Harry had worn the uniform of the Blues and Royals, his army regiment, at his wedding to Meghan Markle.

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