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.

List[edit]

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.

Key[edit]

A number of abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms are used, to save space:

Living Members of the Royal Family[edit]

Service information
Name of royal Branch of service Rank whilst active Years of service Current rank worn Wartime service Unit Military training and qualifications Medals Appointments and other roles
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge William in uniform.jpg

as Colonel of the Irish Guards (2011)

RN,
British Army,
RAF
United Kingdom Lieutenant RN,
United Kingdom Captain,
United Kingdom Squadron Leader
2005–2013[1] United Kingdom Lieutenant Commander,
United Kingdom Major,
United Kingdom Squadron Leader
None Blues and Royals, No. 22 Squadron (RAF Search and Rescue Force)[1] Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
RAF Cranwell and shorter training course at Britannia Royal Naval College

RAF pilot brevet (Queen's Crown)

RAF pilot's flying badge/brevet (wings)

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.png
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg

Commodore-in-Chief of HMNB Clyde; Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy Submarine Service; Commodore-in-Chief of Scotland; Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Coningsby; Colonel of the Irish Guards
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

Prince Harry's medals.jpg as a Captain in Household Cavalry Regiment (Blues and Royals) (2013)

British Army United Kingdom Captain 2005–2015 United Kingdom Major,[2]
United Kingdom Captain General Royal Marines,
United Kingdom Squadron Leader
Afghanistan Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry, 1st Mechanised Brigade of the 3rd Mechanised Division,

Army Air Corps, 662 Squadron of 3 Regiment

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Forward Air Controller

Army Air Corps brevet

Army Air Corps Pilot brevet

Shoulder Flash

RAF Regiment Shoulder Flash

Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png

OSM for Afghanistan w bar.svg Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg

(these titles have been returned to HM Queen) Canadian Ranger; Captain General Royal Marines; Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington; Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving
Charles, Prince of Wales

Charles2015 as Field marshal of the New Zealand Army (2015)

RN, British Army and RAF United Kingdom Commander,
United Kingdom Flight Lieutenant
1971–1976 United Kingdom Admiral of the Fleet,
United Kingdom Field Marshal,
United Kingdom Marshal of the Royal Air Force
None 845 Naval Air Squadron Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Commando Training Centre Royal Marines Royal Air Force College, Cranwell

Wings badge

Parachutist Badge RAF pilot brevet (Queen's Crown)

RAF pilot's flying badge/brevet (wings)

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.png

Order of the Bath (ribbon).svg Order of Merit (Commonwealth realms) ribbon.svg
AUS Order of Australia (civil) BAR.svg Ribbon bar of the Queen's Service Medal.svg Order of Logohu - Grand Companion (Papua New Guinea) ribbon.png CAN Order of Canada Companion ribbon.svg Saskatchewan Order of Merit ribbon bar 2005.svg Ribbon - QE II Coronation Medal.png QEII Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png	

QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg Ribbon - Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal v3.png CD-ribbon and 3 bars.png Independence Medal (Fiji) ribbon.png PNG Independence Medal.png New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal ribbon.png New Zealand Armed Forces Award ribbon.png SCM ribbon.png

(It should be noted not all of these are regularly worn).

Field Marshal, Colonel-in-Chief, Colonel, Honorary Air Commodore, Air Commodore-in-Chief, Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, Royal Honorary Colonel, Royal Colonel, and Honorary Commodore of at least 32 military formations throughout the Commonwealth of Nations[3]
Prince Andrew, Duke of York

HRH Duke of York as Colonel-in-Chief of the Yorkshire Regiment

RN and RAF United Kingdom Commander (Ret'd)[4] 1980–2001 United Kingdom Vice Admiral,
United Kingdom Air Commodore
Falklands War 815 Naval Air Squadron Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Commando Training Centre Royal Marines

Fleet Air Arm pilot's wings Wings badge

Parachutist Badge

UK Royal Victorian Order ribbon.svg South Atlantic Medal w rosette BAR.svg QEII Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg Ribbon - Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal v3.png CD-ribbon and bar.png New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal ribbon.png

(these titles have been returned to HM Queen) Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Commodore in Chief of the Fleet Air Arm, Honorary Air Commodore Royal Air Force Lossiemouth, Honorary Vice Admiral,
Colonel-in-Chief of various units in the Canadian Forces, Colonel-in-Chief and Royal Colonel of various regiments in the British Armed Forces and Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. Personal Aide-de-Camp
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex Prins Edward, earl av Wessex - version 4 as Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary RM[5] United Kingdom Acting Lieutenant (withdrew from training) 1986–1987 See appointments None N/A Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (did not finish) Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, New Zealand Commemorative Medal, Sultan of Brunei Silver Jubilee Medal, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (SOM), Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan, Canadian Forces' Decoration and Sultan of Brunei Golden Jubilee Medal Royal Honorary Colonel, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry
Royal Colonel, of the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
Commodore-in-Chief, of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Honorary Air Commodore Royal Air Force Waddington
Colonel-in-Chief, of Canada
The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
Colonel-in-Chief, of Canada The Prince Edward Island Regiment
Colonel-in-Chief, of Canada the Saskatchewan Dragoons
Prince Michael of Kent

His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent as a Honorary Vice-Admiral, Royal Naval Reserve

British Army United Kingdom Major (Ret'd) 1963–1981 United Kingdom Vice-Admiral,
United Kingdom Colonel,
United Kingdom Air Marshal
None 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own)[6] Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

RAF pilot brevet (Queen's Crown)

Prince Michael is a qualified military pilot[7] and wears the respective service's pilot badge with their uniform, i.e. when he is in RN uniform, he wears the Fleet Air Arm badge, likewise with Army - Army Air Corps wings and RAF - RAF wings

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Canadian Forces Decoration, United Nations Medal for UNFICYP, Order of Friendship (Russia), Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I and Order of the Sun (Peru) Honorary Vice Admiral, Royal Naval Reserve, Colonel-in-Chief of The Essex and Kent Scottish (Canadian Forces), Senior Colonel of the King's Royal Hussars, Royal Honorary Colonel of the Honourable Artillery Company
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Prince Edward, Duke of Kent 2013 as Colonel of the Scots Guards (2013) British Army United Kingdom Lieutenant-Colonel 1955–1976 (Ret'd)[8] United Kingdom Field Marshal and United Kingdom Air Chief Marshal None Royal Scots Greys Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

RAF pilot brevet (Queen's Crown)

RAF pilot's flying badge/brevet (wings)

Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG), Royal Knight of the Order of the Garter (KG), King George VI Coronation Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, United Nations Medal for the UNFICYP mission, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Sierra Leone Independence Medal, Guyana Independence Medal and Canadian Forces' Decoration (with two clasps) (CD) Personal Aide-de-Camp to The Queen, Colonel of the Scots Guards, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Royal Colonel of 1st Battalion The Rifles, Colonel-in-Chief of the Lorne Scots Regiment, Canada, Deputy Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Honorary Air Chief Marshal and Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Leuchars.
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom Queen Elizabeth II on 3 June 2019 Auxiliary Territorial Service, British Army United Kingdom  Subaltern (equivalent to Army Lieutenant),
United Kingdom Junior Commander (equivalent to Army Captain)
1945–1949 World War II ATS Service None None War Medal 1939-1945 Ribbon - War Medal,
Defence Medal Ribbon - Defence Medal
Ceremonial Colonel-in-Chief of Commonwealth armies and Air Commodore-in-Chief of Commonwealth air forces
Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster British Army United Kingdom Major 1998–2008 Major (Ret'd) Kosovo War, Iraq War King's Royal Hussars Royal Military College Sandhurst General Service Medal, NATO Medal, Iraq Medal, Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal None

Deceased Members of the Royal Family[edit]

Service information
Name of royal Branch of service Rank whilst active Years of service Current rank worn Wartime service Unit Military training and qualifications Medals Appointments and other roles
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip of Edinburgh as Admiral of the Fleet RN,
British Army and RAF
United Kingdom Commander[9] 1940–1952[9] United Kingdom Admiral of the Fleet,
United Kingdom Field Marshal,
United Kingdom Marshal of the Royal Air Force
World War IIAllied invasion of Sicily, Battle of Crete, Battle of Cape Matapan British Pacific Fleet Royal Naval College, Greenwich, Britannia Royal Naval College

RAF pilot brevet (Queen's Crown)

RAF pilot's flying badge/brevet (wings)

War Medal 1939-1945 with Oak Leaf,
Atlantic Star,
Africa Star,
Burma Star with Rosette,
Italy Star,
Greek War Cross,
Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 with Palm

Order of Merit (Commonwealth realms) ribbon.svg Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png

Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png AUS Order of Australia (civil) BAR.svg Order of New Zealand ribbon.png Ribbon bar of the Queen's Service Medal.svg

CAN Order of Canada Companion ribbon.svg CAN Order of Military Merit Commander ribbon.svg Ribbon - 1939-45 Star.png Ribbon - Atlantic Star.png

Ribbon - Africa Star.png Ribbon - Burma Star & Rosette.png Ribbon - Italy Star.png Ribbon - War Medal & MiD.png

UK King George VI Coronation Medal ribbon.svg Ribbon - QE II Coronation Medal.png QEII Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.svg Ribbon - Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal v3.png CD-ribbon and 5 bars.png New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal ribbon.png

Malta George Cross Fiftieth Anniversary Medal Ribbon.png Order of the Redeemer Ribbon bar.svg Greek War Cross 1940 3rd class ribbon.png Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with palm (France) - ribbon bar.png

(The above are the current ribbons worn).[10][circular reference]

Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom and Field Marshal of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force, Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Colonel-in-Chief-The Royal Canadian Regiment, Colonel-in-Chief - Army Cadet Force.
George VI of the United Kingdom

Georg VI England as Admiral of the Fleet during the Second World War

RN, RAF United Kingdom  Lieutenant (RN), United Kingdom  Squadron Leader 1909–1919 (as monarch)
United Kingdom Admiral of the Fleet,
United Kingdom Field Marshal
United Kingdom Marshal of the Royal Air Force
World War I HMS Collingwood
Royal Naval Air Service
RAF Cranwell
Independent Air Force
Britannia Royal Naval College

RAF pilot brevet (Queen's Crown)

RAF pilot's flying badge/brevet (wings)

Royal Victorian Chain, 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal with Mention in Despatches, Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Medal, King Edward VII Coronation Medal, King George V Coronation Medal, King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal (United Kingdom), War Medal 1939–1945, Canadian Forces Decoration Colonel-in-Chief – Commonwealth armies (Canadian Army, Australian Imperial Force/Australian Army Reserve, New Zealand Expeditionary Force) and Air Commodore-in-Chief of Commonwealth air forces (RCAF, RAAF, RNZAF); Field Marshal of the British Army/Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal Navy/Marshal of the Royal Air Force
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom

Edward V111 circa1915 as a Second Lieutenant during the First World War

British Army, RAF United Kingdom Lieutenant 1914–1918[citation needed] N/A World War I Grenadier Guards Osborne Naval College, Royal Naval College at Dartmouth

RAF pilot brevet (Queen's Crown)

RAF pilot's flying badge/brevet (wings)

Military Cross Colonel-in-Chief – Commonwealth armies (Canadian Army, Australian Imperial Force/Australian Army Reserve, New Zealand Expeditionary Force) and Air Commodore-in-Chief of Commonwealth air forces (Royal Canadian Air Force, RAAF, RNZAF); Field Marshal of the British Army/Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal Navy/Marshal of the Royal Air Force[11]
George V of the United Kingdom

George V in the uniform of a Marshal of the RAF as Marshal of the Royal Air Force (1935)

RN United Kingdom Commander 1877–1891 N/A None HMS Bacchante None None Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal Navy, Field Marshal of the British Army and Marshal of the Royal Air Force
William IV of the United Kingdom

William IV crop

RN United Kingdom Rear-Admiral 1780–1789 N/A American War of Independence HMS Andromeda, HMS Pegasus None None General of the British Army/Admiral of the Royal Navy
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester as Governor General of Australia (c. 1945)

British Army United Kingdom Major (last active service rank) 1919-1937 (active service) and 1940-1945 (war service) Honorary Captain of the RNVR, United Kingdom Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force (after retiring from Army) World War II, Battle of France King's Royal Rifle Corps, 10th Royal Hussars, British Expeditionary Force Royal Military College Sandhurst None Colonel in Chief-Gloucestershire Regiment, Colonel in Chief-Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Colonel-Ceylon Light Infantry, Colonel-Scots Guards, Marshal of the Royal Air Force
Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven

Ludwig Alexander von Battenberg The Marquess of Milford Haven

RN United Kingdom Admiral of the Fleet 1868–1914 Anglo-Egyptian War, First World War HMS Royal Alfred Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George First Sea Lord
George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven

George Battenberg 2nd MH The Marquess of Milford Haven

RN United Kingdom Captain 1904–1937 First World War Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order Order of St Vladimir, 4th class, with Swords, Knight of the Military Order of Savoy,

Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order

Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma

Lord Mountbatten Naval in colour Allan Warren as Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal Navy (1976)

RN United Kingdom Admiral of the Fleet 1913–1965 First World War, Second World War Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia (SACSEA) 1943-1945 Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Knight of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, British War Medal, See list Chief of the Defence Staff, First Sea Lord, Supreme Allied Commander  South East Asia Command, Chief of Combined Operations, Colonel of the Life Guards, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Marines

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Rank is received and awarded by members of the Royal Family in generally two ways:

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.[14]

Ranks and roles held by Royals with no military service (honorary ranks)[edit]

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
Service information
Photograph of Royal Name of royal Rank Naval Roles Army Roles Army Roles Uniform
Princess Anne, June 2013.JPG

In Household Cavalry uniform, as Colonel of Blues and Royals

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:

Colonel of the Blues and Royals, Royal Honorary Colonel of the University of London OTC, Commandant-in-Chief of the FANY,

Honorary Air Commodore of:
  • the University of London Air Squadron,
  • RAF Brize Norton,
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, grevinna av Wessex.jpg 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[edit]

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.

Service information
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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Prince William: Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Prince Harry: Military Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 28 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Prince of Wales: Military career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  4. ^ "The Duke of York: Military Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  5. ^ "The prince with a difference". BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent: Military Involvement". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Royal flies with naval reserves".
  8. ^ "Prince Edward: Military Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  9. ^ a b "The Duke of Edinburgh: Naval Career". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  10. ^ List of titles and honours of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh#Decorations and medals
  11. ^ Cokayne, George (1940). The Complete Peerage. Vol. XIII. London: St. Catherine's Press. pp. 116–117.
  12. ^ Royal Air Force College Cranwell
  13. ^ Prince William, Duke of Cambridge#Military and air ambulance service
  14. ^ "The Duke of York". 26 October 2015.