prince william and prince harry military service
General Military Questions

Prince William & Prince Harry Military Service Explained

Prince William and Prince Harry have a few similarities and many noteworthy differences, one of which is military service.

The two brothers of the British Royal Family have both honored tradition by serving in the armed forces, much like their late grandmother.

However, the siblings have had remarkably different journeys since then, especially in regard to their military careers.

Learn more about the military service and history of Prince William and Prince Harry, below.

Related Article – 31 Presidents That Served In The Military

Prince William and Prince Harry Military Service

prince harry and william military service
Images: Prince Harry (left) & Prince William (right)

Did Prince William and Harry both serve in the military?

Yes, the brothers and eventual heirs to the British monarchy each spent time serving the British Royal Army.

However, the military service of Prince William and Harry was much different in many regards.

In fact, their time in the military was recently a source of conflict at none other than the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

During the ceremony, many members of the Royal Family (including Prince William) wore a military uniform.

Nevertheless, the uniform was strangely absent from Prince Harry, which was peculiar considering the brother also spent many years in military service.

Unfortunately, the recent divide between the brothers has discounted their time in service, especially Harry, who bravely served in Afghanistan flying helicopters.

With that in mind, one must consider the long history of the British Royal Family serving in the armed forces:

British Royal Family in Military Service

Prince William and Harry have had giant shoes to fill since an early age.

Their mother, Princess Diana, was not only beloved but many other members of their family have done remarkable things in life.

For example, their grandmother, the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II, joined the military during WWII at the age of 17.

Queen Elizabeth served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and was assigned to Mechanical Transport Training detail.

From there, she learned how to become a vehicle mechanic while also transporting officers around Europe.

While many men in the British Royal Family had served in the armed forces beforehand, Queen Elizabeth II became the first female of the family to enlist full-time.

Therefore, from an early age Prince Harry and William were made aware of the long and decorated tradition of military service within the British Royal Family.

Sadly, William’s recent separation from the British Royal Family has caused much strife, including what the sibling was allowed to wear at the Queen’s funeral.

Prince William Military Service

prince william was a helicopter pilot in the royal air force or raf

William, who was recently named the Prince of Wales after the death of the Queen, is the older of the two brothers.

Nevertheless, he actually followed his brother into military service after deciding to join in 2006.

Despite receiving a blessing from his grandmother to serve on the front line, such an assignment was unlikely given his status among the heirs.

Therefore, Prince William attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst after graduating from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2005.

Prince William trained as an officer cadet in an armored reconnaissance unit.

He divided training between the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force at Bovington Camp, Dorset.

Next, the Prince underwent training with the Royal Air Force at RAF Cranwell, the same military base where his father (King Charles III) also received his wings.

For this reason, the prince was affectionately referred to as “Lieutenant Wales” during military service, obtaining commission as:

  • Sub-Lieutenant (Royal Navy)
  • Flying Officer (Royal Air Force)

Prince William eventually became a search-and-rescue pilot before transitioning into an air ambulance.

All in all, Prince William spent 7.5 years of full-time service in the military along with an additional 4 years in a reserve/volunteer role.

He, like his brother, has remained an active spokesperson for military personnel and veterans.

Both brothers have acknowledged the difficulties faced by many military personnel transitioning back into civilian life.

Related Article10 Best Army Jobs For Civilian Life

Prince Harry Military Service

prince harry was also a helicopter pilot in the royal air force

Prince Harry, despite being the younger brother by 2 years, was actually the first brother to enlist in the Royal Armed Forces.

Harry spent 10 years in the British Army, rising to the rank of Captain, including 2 noteworthy tours in Afghanistan.

Recently, Prince Harry has had a falling out with many members of the Royal Family, including his brother, over his marriage to Meghan Markle.

It has contributed to the brother moving out of the United Kingdom and not being allowed to wear a military uniform at the recent funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Nonetheless, it shouldn’t discount the impressive military service of Prince Harry, which demonstrates his allegiance to the UK.

In fact, Prince Harry has continued to support troops in many regards, including:

  • Promoting awareness for wounded warriors.
  • Promoting Invictus Games and other military events.
  • Donating and advocating for military veterans.

Therefore, the Duke of Sussex continues to play a prominent role in British military service, despite the separation from the Royal Family.

History of Military Service

Prince Harry joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst shortly before his older brother in 2005.

There, he began his training as an officer cadet and, upon graduation in 2006, joined the Blues and Royals.

Harry was commissioned as an army officer the same year after completing the Troop Leaders’ Course.

From there, Prince Harry led a troop of 11 soldiers and 4 Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles.

Later, it was leaked in 2008 that Prince Harry was serving in Afghanistan, which at the time outraged certain members of the Royal family.

The known dangers of being in Afghanistan were apparent as the Free World was currently threatened by the “War on Terror.”

In 2008, Prince Harry was also promoted to the military rank of lieutenant within The Household Cavalry.

The military career of Prince Harry lasted for 10 years before he separated service as a captain in 2015.

All in all, the younger brother spent 2 tours in Afghanistan and continues to support many military charities.

Be that as it may, Prince Harry was not allowed to wear his military uniform at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

It’s because he and his wife stepped back from their official duties as royals in 2020.

As such, Harry has been stripped of his honorary British military titles, including:

  • Captain General of the Royal Marines
  • Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington
  • Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving
  • Royal Naval Command

It’s a shame considering how much time and attention Prince Harry has devoted to the armed forces since retiring from the military.

Here is a video that captures Prince Harry’s time in military service:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

prince william prince harry military service explained

Here are the most frequently asked questions about the military careers of both Prince Harry and William:

Did Prince William and Prince Harry serve in the military?

Yes, both brothers followed the long tradition of military service for members of the Royal Family, particularly the men.

Prince William spent 7.5 years in active duty with another 4 years in a volunteer/reserve role.

Meanwhile, Prince Harry spent 10 years of active service, including 2 tours in Afghanistan.

Harry was also the first sibling to enlist in military service in 2005.

Which brother was a military helicopter pilot?

Technically, both brothers are trained as helicopter pilots, even though Harry usually gets more recognition.

Prince Harry was the only sibling to fly a military helicopter in Afghanistan.

However, Prince William is also a noteworthy search-and-rescue and ambulance helicopter pilot.

In fact, he spent several years assisting the military in that capacity, participating in over 150 search-and-rescue missions.

Why was Prince Harry not in a military uniform at Queen Elizabeth’s uniform?

Despite serving in the British Army for 10 years, Prince Harry was not allowed to wear his uniform at the funeral.

Harry has been stripped of his honorary military titles due to abandoning his official duties as a member of the Royal Family.

As such, Prince Harry was not wearing a uniform like many other members of the Royal family, including his brother.

Nevertheless, Prince Harry continues to champion the rights of veterans including helping service members transition back into civilian life.

Related ArticleElvis Military Service Explained: 10 Things You Didn’t Know


Prince William and Harry both served in the British Armed Forces.

From an early age, the brothers were introduced to the importance of military service.

In fact, many of their family members (including their father and uncle) served in the military flying helicopters.

Moreover, Prince Harry and William’s late grandmother (Queen Elizabeth II) also served during World War II.

As such, the siblings followed in the footsteps of the Royal Family and each enlisted in military service.

However, their time in the armed forces was much different, even though they were enlisted around the same time period.

Nevertheless, both brothers remain active spokespersons for veterans and military charity organizations.

Featured Image Sources: Prince William (Wikipedia) & Prince Harry (Wikimedia)

Rob V.
Latest posts by Rob V. (see all)
Prince William Military Service

Prince William Military Service

4.7 out of 5 (60 Ratings)

Prince William and Harry military service has continued the long tradition in the British Royal Family. But what was the experience like?

Originally posted on May 18, 2023 @ 7:06 pm

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally vetted. Learn more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *