As the Prince of Wales, 40, led the Duke of Sussex, 38, and their cousins into Westminster Hall to stand guard at the queen’s coffin on Saturday, September 17, eagle-eyed royal viewers noticed that William’s epaulet featured an embroidered “ER” on the shoulder. The “ER” is notably the late queen’s initials, which frequently appeared on her stationary and on signed documents. Compared to William’s epaulet, Harry’s was noticeably bare in the same location. Buckingham Palace has not publicly addressed why Harry’s uniform seemed to not feature the late sovereign’s initials.
Harry’s participation on Saturday marked the first time he was able to wear his military uniform since he and wife Meghan Markle stepped down from their posts as senior royals in 2020. As a result, the BetterUp CIO was stripped of his ceremonial military titles. Since he no longer held such honorary titles, Harry was unable to wear his uniform to the queen’s Westminster Hall procession on Wednesday, September 14.
“He has come to terms with not wearing uniform on these occasions,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly at the time. “Whilst that’s disappointing in some senses, he’s just grateful to be present and honoring the queen. At the end of the day, it’s only a uniform.”
Days before Harry was scheduled to stand vigil with his brother and cousins, Buckingham Palace granted him an exception for the grandchildren’s outing alone. On Saturday, Harry marched behind William as they led cousins Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall (née Phillips), Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, into the hall for a silent tribute to their late grandmother, who died on September 8 at the age of 96.
While Harry’s uniform did not have the same “ER” emblem as the Duke of Cornwall’s, they did have matching medals adorning their lapels. King Charles III’s two sons — whom he shared with late ex-wife Princess Diana — both wore three medals that they received from the queen’s Gold, Diamond and Platinum Jubilees. Peter, 44, and Viscount James, 14, also had the same honors pinned to their mourning suit jackets. Harry had an additional ribbon to denote his service fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan, where he previously served two tours of duty.
The grandchildren’s vigil — which marked the first time in British history that a monarch’s granddaughters stood watch — came one day after Elizabeth’s children held a moment of silence of their own. The 73-year-old king and siblings Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward all wore military uniforms on Friday, September 16, while protecting their mother’s coffin as it lies in state at Westminster Hall. Their uniforms all featured her “ER” initials on one of their epaulets.
The Duke of York, 62, had been granted a similar exception as Harry to wear his uniform one final time for the vigil despite stepping down from public duties in 2019 after being accused of sexual assault. After the case was settled out of court, Andrew was eventually stripped of his royal titles in January.
Both Andrew and Harry are expected to wear mourning suits to the rest of the queen’s memorial events, including her Monday, September 19, state funeral at Westminster Abbey.