Duke of Sussex ‘devastated’ after being barred from having ER initials on uniform

The Duke of Sussex in Westminster Hall without his grandmother's initials on his shoulder. The letters "ER" can be seen on the Prince of Wales shoulder - Jessica Taylor /UK Parliament
The Duke of Sussex in Westminster Hall without his grandmother's initials on his shoulder. The letters "ER" can be seen on the Prince of Wales shoulder - Jessica Taylor /UK Parliament

The Duke of Sussex was “devastated” after being denied the right to bear his grandmother’s ER initials on the shoulder of his military uniform, it has emerged.

Prince Harry mounted a sombre 15-minute vigil at Queen Elizabeth’s coffin alongside his seven cousins at Westminster Hall on Saturday evening.

He had been given special dispensation by the King to wear Blues and Royals No 1 dress uniform, despite not being a working royal.

But the apparent scene of unity played out at Westminster Hall belied resentment behind the scenes.

The previous day, the Duke had been taken aback when he received his uniform from Buckingham Palace.

Opening up the carefully packaged clothing at Frogmore House, his home on the Windsor estate, he discovered that it was missing the ER initials from the shoulder epaulettes.

The aiguillettes – ornamental braided cord – that go hand in hand with the cypher had also been removed.

Such decorations can only be worn by personal aide-de-camps to the sovereign.

The Duke was appointed to the honorary role in October 2018 but was stripped of it in February 2021 when it was confirmed he would not be returning to royal duties, meaning he was not entitled to wear them.

It is thought the Prince of Wales removed his aiguillettes in a bid to appease the Duke of Sussex, his brother - Getty Images Europe
It is thought the Prince of Wales removed his aiguillettes in a bid to appease the Duke of Sussex, his brother - Getty Images Europe

Regardless, it triggered a furious exchange of phone calls and messages that was still not resolved on Friday evening.

Such was his frustration, that he is said to have considered wearing a morning suit to the vigil to avoid humiliation.

The Duke was told it would be sorted out on his arrival at Westminster Hall, but when he eventually emerged in public, he was wearing the uniform as sent by the palace.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales, who was also in Blues and Royals No 1 dress uniform, was bearing the late Queen’s ER cypher but was missing his aiguillettes, despite having worn them on his RAF No 1 uniform for the procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday.

It is thought he may have removed them for the vigil in a bid to appease his brother.

Queen Elizabeth II's grandchildren the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor, James, Viscount Severn, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips - PA/Ian McIlgorm/Mail On Sunday
Queen Elizabeth II's grandchildren the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor, James, Viscount Severn, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips - PA/Ian McIlgorm/Mail On Sunday

As a result, experts conceded he was not dressed correctly, a detail that would not have escaped the late Queen, a stickler for such things.

On Friday, Prince William told Commonwealth soldiers preparing for the funeral that his grandmother would be “looking down on Monday, hoping it all goes well”.

He said he thought the late Queen would be studying the military detail and the drills, something she had always loved to do.

The Duke of York, who was also given special dispensation to wear military uniform for a vigil at his mother’s coffin on Friday evening, was wearing the cypher and aiguillettes.

Despite being stripped of his honorary military roles and patronages by the late Queen in January, he remained in the position of aide-de-camp.