Prince Harry military service: what rank was he in the Army - role and connection to armed forces explained

Harry always dreamed of a life in the Army, but what is his current connection to the armed forces post-’Megxit’?

The Duke of Sussex has been denied the chance to wear military uniform at many of the official events following the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

However, Harry will reportedly be permitted to wear military uniform at a vigil with his cousins beside the Queen’s coffin.

So what is Prince Harry’s connection with the UK military, and why is he not being allowed to wear uniform, while Prince Andrew is?

Here is everything you need to know.

What is Prince Harry’s history with the UK armed forces?

Harry always dreamed of a life in the Army.

As a child, his bedroom was filled with pictures of tanks and helicopters and in 1993, as an eight-year-old, he dressed in a miniature combat suit and helmet as he sat in a tank during a visit to the German base of the Light Dragoons on his first formal public engagement.

He joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2005 and trained as an Army officer, then joined the Blues and Royals and went on to train to become a Troop Leader of an armoured reconnaissance unit.

Harry flew Apache helicopters on training missions from Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk when he served with the Army.

Prince Harry salutes as he joins British troops and service personal remaining in Afghanistan as they gather for a Remembrance Sunday service at Kandahar Airfield in 2014 (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A planned tour to Iraq was scrapped after it was found he was to be a target for insurgents, but two tours to Afghanistan followed including one as an Apache pilot.

He took over from his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, as Captain General of the Royal Marines in 2017 – but stepped down after two years and one month in the position.

Philip, who retired at the age of 96, spent more than 64 years in the role.

Harry is also no longer Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands’ Small Ships and Diving.

It was the Army which offered him his first taste of life away from being a royal; he admitted after serving in Afghanistan for a second time in 2012 that he was more comfortable being Captain Wales than Prince Harry.

He retains his rank as Captain in the Army.

How is he involved now?

When Harry left the Army in 2015, he vowed to always maintain his links with his fellow servicemen and women.

“Luckily for me, I will continue to wear the uniform and mix with fellow servicemen and women for the rest of my life, helping where I can,” he said.

Harry has supported the rehabilitation of wounded veterans and serving personnel in creating the Invictus Games, an international Paralympic-style sporting championship for those who have served.

Harry was inspired to found the global tournament after attending the US’ equivalent the Warrior Games in 2013 and seeing how injured American military personnel thrived on the challenge of taking part in competitive sports that aided their recovery.

Speaking at the launch of the Games in March 2014, he said: “I have witnessed first hand how the power of sport can positively impact the lives of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women in their journey of recovery.

“The Invictus Games will focus on what they can achieve post-injury and celebrate their fighting spirit through an inclusive sporting competition that recognises the sacrifice they have made.

The Duke of Sussex is “back with his own people” when he is at the Invictus Games, according to a war veteran friend.

Why is Harry not wearing military uniform?

Though the Duke of Sussex fought in Afghanistan on the frontline, he severed his official ties to the military as he quit royal life in early 2020.

Only working royals – which Harry is not – are being permitted to dress in uniform at ceremonial occasions; this includes the monarch’s state funeral on Monday (19 September).

Harry served in the British Army for a decade, but was stripped of his honorary military roles post-’Megxit’ - he once said how his experience in the Army would stay with him for the rest of his life.

But an exception has been made for Prince Andrew who wore uniform as a “special mark of respect” for the Queen when he stood guard around her coffin during the Vigil of the Princes.

Andrew stepped down from public life after the furore over his friendship with paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. He went on to pay millions to settle a civil sexual assault case to a woman he claimed never to have met.

Prince Harry will reportedly be permitted to wear military uniform at a vigil with his cousins beside the Queen’s coffin.

The Duke of Sussex will join his brother the Prince of Wales and the Queen’s six other grandchildren in mounting a vigil around her coffin on Saturday (17 September).