Military service by British royalty
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Many members of the British Royal Family have seen service in British or other Commonwealth armed forces, others hold honorary ranks or positions. This is a list detailing formal military service by members of the British royal family.
There is also a list of military titles, service appointments and various job titles within the Royal Family, listed below. These roles are honorary and may, or may not, also be held by Royals who are ex-military or serving military persons.
I.e. Princess Anne, whilst not having any military service, holds many ranks and roles within HM Armed Forces.
The honorary ranks and titles are included in a separate column. The "rank whilst active" column dictates the rank worn and held whilst the Royal was serving with the armed forces and the "current rank worn" column denotes any rank worn currently (notably honorary rank, promotions). Members of the royal family receive regular promotions even after their active service has ended.
A number of abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms are used, to save space:
Living Members of the Royal Family
Deceased Members of the Royal Family
- Medals that are shown in the "Medals" column, generally only include awards that include a medal ribbon that is worn in uniform, as opposed to some decorations which may be represented by other means. Click or tap on the ribbon to see the name and details.
- Ranks that are shown in the "Rank whilst active" column are generally the highest rank achieved by the royal. Rank achieved later (i.e. after retirement from active service and movement to reserve list) is displayed in the "Current rank worn" column.
- Rank is received and awarded by members of the Royal Family in generally two ways:
- They receive a regular commission after undergoing officer training with one of the Armed Services at their respective establishments; (Britannia Royal Naval College, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Royal Air Force College Cranwell).
- They are appointed to an honorary rank, either in addition to their regular rank or instead of, if they are not actively serving officers.[circular reference]
N.B. Upon leaving active service, royal members are generally promoted to the rank they would have received, if they had stayed in the Armed Services.
Ranks and roles held by Royals with no military service (honorary ranks)
These Royals hold various ranks and royals, within HM Armed Forces, which are generally known as "Honorary Ranks". Listed below are only the British ones, but there are many more held throughout the Commonwealth.
These may include:
- Royal Colonel - an appointment made by the Monarch, to appointment of Colonel-in-Chief or Colonel of a regiment
|Photograph of Royal||Name of royal||Rank||Naval Roles||Army Roles||Army Roles||Uniform|
|Anne, Princess Royal||Admiral (2012), General, Air Chief Marshal||Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy, Commodore-in-Chief of HMNB Portsmouth,
Admiral of the SCC
|Colonel-in-Chief of the following:
Affiliated Colonel-in-Chief of:
|Honorary Air Commodore of:
||Uniform for all three services, the uniform worn is dependent upon the occasion (e.g. parade visit, working visit (e.g. to a ship), evening dinner, etc) Plus any medals, qualification or trade badge may also be worn.|
|Sophie, Countess of Wessex||None in own right, rank worn on occasion when acting in capacity as honorary rank (see right)||None||Colonel-in-Chief of the QARANC, RCAM/CAMUS, REME,
Royal Colonel of 5th Battalion, The Rifles
|Honorary Air Commodore, RAF Wittering|
Military service of English monarchs
A few English monarchs came to the throne from other countries and served in the armies of their home country. A few served in other armies during their exile.
|Name of royal||Service||Wartime service|
|George I of Great Britain||Army of the Dutch Republic||Franco-Dutch War|
|William III of England||Army of the Dutch Republic||Glorious Revolution|
|James II of England||Imperial French and Spanish Empire armies; he later served as Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy||1652–1656|
|Charles II of England||English Army – Commander of West Country 1640s and the Engagers||English Civil War|
|Charles I of England||English Army||English Civil War|
|Henry V of England||English Army||Hundred Years' War|
|William II of England||English Army|
|William I of England||Army of the Normans||Norman invasion of England|
- British royal family
- The Canadian Crown and the Canadian Armed Forces
- List of honours of the British royal family by country
- British Armed Forces
- United Kingdom
- "Prince William: Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "Prince Harry: Military Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 28 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "Prince of Wales: Military career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "The Duke of York: Military Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "The prince with a difference". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent: Military Involvement". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "Royal flies with naval reserves".
- "Prince Edward: Military Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "The Duke of Edinburgh: Naval Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- List of titles and honours of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh#Decorations and medals
- Cokayne, George (1940). The Complete Peerage. Vol. XIII. London: St. Catherine's Press. pp. 116–117.
- Royal Air Force College Cranwell
- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge#Military and air ambulance service
- "The Duke of York". 26 October 2015.