Since the 19th century, members of the Royal Family with a military rank have worn uniforms at state occasions. Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and Princess Anne all wore uniforms at the funeral of the Queen Mother, wife of George VI, in 2002, the last funeral of a royal consort.
At the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on Saturday, all senior members of the Royal Family will wear mourning attire instead of the ceremonial uniform they should have worn according to their military rank, The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, in an abrupt U-turn, the Queen has accepted a last-minute decision that no royals will wear military uniforms in order to show a united family front. Insiders reportedly have been worried that 36-year-old Prince Harry, who was forced to relinquish his honorary military titles after acrimoniously quitting royal duties and moving to the United States, would be the only senior royal not in uniform.
Harry is said to have opted to wear the same Blues and Royals dress uniform as he did on his wedding day in May 2018. However, as a retired captain of the Household Cavalry, he is only allowed to wear a suit and any decorations he has received during his duties or by the Queen.
The Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Wessex, and Princess Royal, on the other hand, would have been dressed in full military regalia for a royal ceremonial funeral, as is customary.
The problem was reportedly exacerbated when Prince Andrew asked to wear the admiral’s uniform, which he had agreed to postpone taking up after stepping down from public duties of a senior royal member in the aftermath of the Epstein scandal. However, Andrew’s honorary military ranks have not been taken away, and he remains a vice-admiral in the Royal Navy.
It raised questions within the Royal Household that if Andrew’s request to wear uniform was refused, he and Harry would be the only ones in civilian dress who had served in action in the military.
“There was the risk of real embarrassment,” an undisclosed source is quoted in the report as saying.
To maintain family unity and spare Harry public embarrassment, the Queen has determined that everyone will dress the same–morning coats and black ties for the men, plain black outfits for the ladies.
It would be only the second time in more than a century that members of the Royal Family have attended a monarch’s or their spouse’s funeral without being in uniform.
In April 2002, at the Queen Mother’s funeral, all senior royals who were eligible to wear a uniform, including the Duke of Edinburgh, did so. This was in stark contrast to the private funeral of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, a few weeks prior, where mourning attire was worn, as well as the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, a former royal, five years prior.
According to The Daily Mail, the original intention was for senior royals to dress in military uniform on Saturday in line with convention. However, given how outspoken Harry, who is currently quarantining at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor after returning from the United States, has been about the loss of his military titles, telling Winfrey that losing them had “hurt” him, it ultimately reportedly became clear that this was a problem.