Prince Harry, Remembrance Sunday 2017

Remembrance Sunday: Should Prince Harry Have Worn A Beard?

Prince Harry, Remembrance Sunday 2017

Prince Harry's appearance has once again sparked debate after he attended London's Remembrance Sunday service sporting a full-set beard.

The prince laid a wreath in Whitehall along with the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

But for some, including those serving in the Armed Forces and veterans, it was his appearance rather than this act that prompted heated discussion.

One soldier is reported to have told the Mail: "Prince Harry is letting us all down."

"There's no place for beards in the Queen's cavalry. He should have shaved it off for such an important day."

In 2015, after an unshaven Prince Harry attended a school in full military uniform, Forces Network's Julie Knox took a close look at the issue:


Hirsute Harry: Was The Prince Too Scruffy On Parade? 


What he wears - or doesn't - hits the headlines. From the inappropriate Nazi fancy dress to his pre-deployment Vegas state of undress, Prince Harry's wardrobe choices make the front pages. And even when the roguish royal puts a foot wrong, his adoring army of fans forgives him.

Now, the former Captain Wales' personal grooming has split military opinion on standards, one of the most defining and divisive topics in the forces. 

The Prince took part in last year's Armistice Day ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum, where he wore a beard as he took to the podium to read Rupert Brooke's famous sonnet 'The Soldier'

Service personnel are drilled to pay the smartest attention to detail. Their traditional costumes, unique hallmarks of regimental history and quirky customs are what set the British military apart from other sections of society, and their counterparts around the world.

A great deal of pride is wrapped up in the collective look of a marching body of men and women, and naturally, they judge each other. It's a tribal thing: picking holes in the look, stance, or actions of your oppos. Friendly banter.

Prince Harry school visit
Prince Harry visiting the Duke of York's Royal Military School

The military sees this sibling rivalry as a self-licking lollipop, driving standards higher still through competition. Nobody wants to let their side down.

Cue the outpouring of comment on His Royal Highness' facial hair when paired with ceremonial uniform - a 'no-no' according to Army rules - subject, of course, to quirky historic exceptions: the Pioneer Sergeant, a lumberjack/engineer who fells trees ahead of an advancing unit, or those whose beards and whiskers are for medical or religious reasons.

Prince Harry, Afghanistan, 2008
Prince Harry in Afghanistan in 2008

But do Queen's regulations apply to the Queen's grandson - who has left the Army anyway? Does the fact he was making a guest appearance at a school with a military ethos make his appearance more or less acceptable?

Watch: Prince Harry Causes Stir With Surprise Appearance 

It's not the first time Prince Harry has displayed stubble in uniform. On his first deployment to Afghanistan, Second Lieutenant Wales didn't shave when roughing it as a Forward Air Controller. But on tour, standards are relaxed.

They're not in 'Number Ones' - best ceremonial dress - in the desert. Indeed, commanders even allowed British troops to become bearded to gain more street cred with their Afghan Army counterparts in Helmand. But back on the civilised parade square, clean-shaven faces are de rigeur. Unless, it would seem, you're a royal.

Prince Michael of Kent
HRH Prince Michael of Kent

Look at Prince Michael of Kent. When he visits his various regiments as honorary colonel, his distinguished beard remains. 

Photos of previous Kings in uniform with whiskers have been unearthed by staunch defenders of Prince Harry.

But there are those serving and retired soldiers who have taken to Facebook to voice their displeasure.

King George V
King George V reigned during the First World War

Comments included: "Someone might want to remind Prince Harry he is not a Pioneer Sgt and therefore when wearing his military uniform should be clean shaven." 

And "Beard while wearing the Queen's uniform? Discipline that man!"

"Harry, you're a disgrace to the uniform (shave or don't wear it)."

But the Prince's supporters were just as vocal: 

"He is wearing the uniform of an Honorary Colonel of the SCHOOL, so he is not in military uniform, and if you don't think that a Prince, who has taken time out of his busy schedule to go and chat to the kids, give them some support and words of advice and spend time with them is not leading by example, then I don't know what is."

And "He's too important to shave."

"It's all right – he got a note from his nan."

We asked Twitter users what they thought - and while it was a very close shave, in the end 52% of voters thought the prince should have shaved. 

But that won't change things for his legions of fans. One wrote:

"Prince Harry is one of my heroes though. Total stud. Ok, shows up at parties every now and then naked - but who doesn't?"

More - IN PICTURES: Millions Fall Silent On Armistice Day To Remember War Dead

Related topics

Join Our Newsletter


How is Estonia dealing with heightened Russian threat to its security?

RAF airman John Nichol's life-saving decision to eject from burning Tornado jet

Tough three-day course BEFORE starting Royal Marine Commando training