Britain’s Prince Harry to Join the Army

Britain’s Prince Harry to Join the Army (Reuters)

Britain’s Prince Harry will join an officer training course next year after passing the army’s entrance tests, his father’s office said on Friday. The 20-year-old prince, third in line to the throne, will be trained as an officer cadet at the prestigious Sandhurst military academy after successfully passing a four-day Regular Commissions Board (RCB) assessment. “I am delighted that I have passed my RCB and that I can now go to Sandhurst,” he said in a statement released by Clarence House, his father Prince Charles’s office.


The Sandhurst training course lasts 44 weeks, after which Harry would be eligible for active service. The prince, the second of Charles’s two sons from his marriage to the late Princess Diana, decided to join the army last year after returning modest exam results which fell short of the requirements of top British universities.

Harry continues the royal family’s long tradition of military service. Queen Elizabeth is head of the three armed services, and her husband Prince Philip enjoyed a long career in the Royal Navy. Prince Charles trained as a pilot with the Royal Air Force before going on to join the navy, where he commanded a minesweeper before leaving the service in 1976. Harry’s uncle Prince Andrew saw active service as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina. His other uncle, Prince Edward, spent three years in the Royal Marines before dropping out in mid-training to become a television executive.

Sandhurst has a long tradition, dating back to 1747. While most mistakenly think of it as the British equivalent to West Point, it’s really closer to our Officers’ Candidates School. The Commissioning Course is less than a year long and focuses strictly on training its cadets for careers as junior officers in the military. It is not also a four-year university, as our military academies are.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. BigFire says:

    Yeah, Prince Edward is still catching flaks for dropping out of Royal Marine (which is a very tough course). The broadsheets had a field day when he quit.

  2. trostky says:

    Not to harp on the U.S. elites’ avoidance of military service, but it’s striking that the military tradition is so strong among the Brit royals. Reminds me of the Roosevelts.

  3. dave t says:

    Edward would have flunked basic Infantry training as well – he was so unsuited being so “delicate” and more at home when he was working in the theatre.

    The Royals tend to do military service as a tradition: it gives them something to do for a few years whilst waiting for dady or Mummy to drop orf so they can takeover the family business..

    Having noted that Harry got the worst exam results ever at Eton a D (!!!) for one and C for the other A level, I wonder how the heck he managed to pass the written parts of RCB. But then he was not really going to fail was he?

    PS the D grade he got was for geography so I hope he is not going to turn into that most dangerous of species, a 2LT with a map…..!

  4. Scott says:

    “PS the D grade he got was for geography so I hope he is not going to turn into that most dangerous of species, a 2LT with a map…..!”

    Naw. Everyone uses GPS, now. The equipment practically navigates itself.