A Complete Timeline Of The Drama Surrounding Prince Harry's Military Uniform

On September 13, 2022, royal author and reporter Omid Scobie Tweeted that Prince Harry would not be allowed to wear his military uniform at any events pertaining to Queen Elizabeth's funeral proceedings. The official reason given is that because Harry stepped back from royal duties in 2020 and reaffirmed that position with the queen in 2021. Thus, he is a civilian and not entitled to wear the uniform.

Many were confused by the announcement, as Harry served in the British army for years and, in addition to Prince Andrew, is a rare royal with military experience in an active war. In 2021, Queen Elizabeth similarly announced that Harry would not wear a uniform during the funeral proceedings for Prince Philip (via Cosmopolitan). However, no one in the family was allowed to wear a uniform during that time, so the decision wasn't limited to only him (via USA Today).

Since the initial announcement, Buckingham Palace has reversed course ... somewhat. On September 16, 2022, the Palace announced that Harry will be wearing a uniform for part of the proceedings. Here's how the drama surrounding Prince Harry's military uniform has played out.

Prince Harry served in the military for a decade

While military service is a highly prized pursuit in the royal family, only two Queen Elizabeth's descendants have served in active war: Prince Andrew and Prince Harry. As reported by CNN, Harry served in the British army for 10 years. During that time he completed not one but two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was named captain in 2011. Harry retired from the military in 2015. Following his retirement, he founded the Invictus Games, an international adaptive sports competition for wounded veterans (via Town & Country Magazine).

Until Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back from royal duties in early 2020, he was allowed to wear his military uniform to important royal events and services and frequently did. Harry even wore his uniform in his 2018 wedding to Meghan.

In April 2022, Harry spoke to People about his time in the military and how he knew it was time to leave. As he said, "When I was in the Army, I promised myself I would be out before having a wife and kids, because I couldn't imagine the heartache of being apart for so long during deployment, the risk of possibly getting injured and the reality that my family's lives could be changed forever if that happened."

Prince Harry had to ask the public to focus on the death of his grandmother and not his uniform

When the general public heard that Prince Harry would be allowed to wear his uniform during the funeral procession for this grandmother, many people were outraged and confused. In fact, tension mounted to a point that Harry had to take the uncharacteristic step of issuing a statement about the decision, imploring the public and those invested in the story to focus on the long-reigning monarch's death and not him.

A spokesperson for Harry announced, "Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex will wear a morning suit throughout events honouring his grandmother. ... His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears and we respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II" (via Today).

At the time of the statement, the official explanation offered for why Harry could not wear a uniform remained that he and Meghan Markle had once and for all opted out of royal duties back in 2021. At the time, Buckingham Palace explained, "The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family" (via Today).

Prince Andrew was also initially denied being able to wear his uniform

Prince Harry was not the only royal to follow behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin in a mourning suit. His uncle, Prince Andrew, was denied the same opportunity to wear his military uniform. However, it was announced that Andrew would be allowed to wear his uniform while standing vigil for his mother alongside his siblings, something that Harry was initially denied, according to E! News.

Like Harry, Andrew is also no longer a working royal. However, unlike Harry who chose to step down from his royal duties, Andrew was forced to step down after he was sued for sexual assault and abuse. NBC News reported that King Charles III, formerly Prince Charles, chose to allow Andrew to wear his uniform as a "special mark of respect for the Queen at the final vigil," but there was no clarification on why the same mark of respect could not be given to the queen from Harry.

On September 16, the royal family agreed Harry could wear his uniform

On September 16, 2022, it appeared that the royal family had changed its mind about allowing Harry to wear his uniform after all ⁠— at least to the vigil for his grandmother, where he will accompany his older brother and cousins. Prince Harry and Prince William will be joined by Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips as well as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Lady Louise, and Viscount Severn on September 17, 2022, as they stand at the queen's coffin (per The Guardian).

Royal author Omid Scobie commented on the change in policy on Twitter, where he explained that the royal family altered its collective reasoning on the topic. Scobie offered little insight but wrote, "In a dramatic u-turn, palace officials have informed Prince Harry that he CAN wear his military uniform at a final vigil. On Saturday evening, Harry will join seven other grandchildren at Westminster Hall to stand in silence for 15 minutes by the Queen's coffin."

Harry will be wearing his Blues and Royals uniform at the service. 

Prince Harry was and is able to wear his medals

Prince Harry's 10 years of service earned him several medals that he proudly wears on his uniform and could be seen adorning his mourning suit. As reported by Yahoo!, Harry was awarded the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan in honor of the time Harry spent in the country. On top of that, he has received the Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, which his grandmother granted him in honor of the military services he has carried out for the Crown.

Harry also received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. This medal is given to service members who work in the armed forces, the field of emergency services, prison service, and within the royal household and institution itself. 

After the queen's death, Harry referenced his first interaction with his grandmother as his Commander-in-Chief. The sweet moment between the two transpired in 2006, when Harry was a brand new officer in the military and participating in a parade ceremony. While greeting the officers, his grandmother paused in front of him and gave him a winning smile, causing the then-21-year-old to blush and smile back (per The Independent).