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Prince Harry explains why he won’t wear his military uniform at the queen’s funeral

The prince retired from the British army in 2015.
/ Source: TODAY

Prince Harry will not wear military attire when he attends the funeral for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week at the age of 96. People should not expect to see him in his military uniform for any event honoring the queen’s life, either.

“Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex will wear a morning suit throughout events honouring his grandmother,” a spokesman for him said in a statement.

“His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears and we respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

Prince Harry Attends The Armistice Day Service
Prince Harry attends the Armistice Day Service at the National Memorial Arboretum on Nov. 11, 2016, in Alrewas, England. Max Mumby/Indigo / Getty Images

Active members of the royal family are supposed to wear their military uniforms at five events scheduled in the queen’s honor, including the service of thanksgiving at St. Giles’ Cathedral, the procession to Westminster Hall and service of prayer and reflection, the vigil at Westminster Hall, the state funeral service at Westminster Abbey and the committal service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Prince Andrew, who, like Harry, is not a working member of the royal family, will not wear his uniform, except at the vigil. Harry retired from the British army in 2015, following a decade of service and two stints in Afghanistan.

In 2021, Harry and his wife, the former Meghan Markle, informed the queen they would not return as working members of the royal family, more than a year after they first stepped away from their duties.

“Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” the palace said in a statement at the time.

“The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family.

“While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.”

Harry said he had grown tired of the media’s treatment of him and wanted to focus on other matters that are important to him.

“It was never walking away,” he told James Corden on “The Late Late Show” about a week after he said he wasn’t returning to the royal family. “It was stepping back rather than stepping down. It was a really difficult environment, as I think a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health.

“I was like, ‘This is toxic,’ so I did what any husband, what any father would do. I was like, ‘I need to get my family out of here.’ But we never walked away, and as far as I’m concerned, whatever decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away. I’ll always be contributing, but my life is public service, so wherever I am in the world, it’s going to be the same thing.”

Working member of the royal family or not, Harry has grieved his grandmother's death.

“In celebrating the life of my grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen — and in mourning her loss — we are all reminded of the guiding compass she was to so many in her commitment to service and duty,” Harry wrote in a statement.

“She was globally admired and respected. Her unwavering grace and dignity remained true throughout her life and now her everlasting legacy. Let us echo the words she spoke after the passing of her husband, Prince Philip, words which can bring comfort to all of us now: ‘Life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings.’”