As 5-year-old Prince George continues to grow up, all eyes will be on the royal youngster to see who he takes after. Will he be more like his reserved and proper parents and grandfather? Or will he have a little streak of independence like his uncle Prince Harry and late grandmother Diana? Will he attend the same posh private schools? And when he is old enough, will Prince George join the military like his other men in his family?
Service in the armed forces is a tradition that goes back generations in the royal family, so it’s certainly reasonable to consider that Prince George will choose to serve sometime in the future. But as Harper’s Bazaar noted, while enlisting in the ranks of service is an expectation, it is not a requirement, so when he comes of age, Prince George will, technically, be free to make his own decision.
That being said, the youngster has quite a legacy to consider. According to The New York Times, his father, Prince William, served in both the Royal Army as an officer in the elite guards unit and in the Air Force as a pilot. In fact, according to a 2018 statement from Kensington Palace, during his time as a pilot, Prince William has "[undertaken] a total of 156 search and rescue operations, resulting in 149 people being rescued."
The most famous member of this era of royals to have a role in the armed forces is, surprisingly, the Queen herself. In 1945, she enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she learned how “to drive and maintain vehicles”, according to the Royal Household. In fact, BBC America previously reported that the Queen once confided that she enjoyed her time in the ATS because it was the only chance she’d had to measure her capabilities against her peers.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip also had a military career as a member of the Royal Navy from 1939 to 1952, according to the Forces Network. His son Prince Charles also joined the Royal Navy, and later learned to fly helicopters as a member of the royal air force, the outlet reported.
Prince Harry may have had one of the most famous military careers in recent times, as it seemed he took his service very personally and enjoyed the experience more than anyone in his family. The 34-year-old royal started as a recruit at the military academy Sandhurst in 2005, according to Esquire, and was devastated when he was held back from deployment to Iraq with the rest of his unit in 2006. According to Esquire, the military reportedly feared that Prince Harry’s high-profile would put the rest of his unit at risk, but the decision that was ultimately reversed in 2008.
Ultimately, according to the Royal Household, Prince Harry served in the Army for 10 years and during his time, he "rose to the rank of Captain and undertaking two tours of Afghanistan."
After Prince Harry left the military, he was inspired by the United States’ Warrior Games to continue his connection with the military community. According to Town & Country, he founded the Invictus Games, which is similar to the Paralympics but for wounded veterans. According to the foundation's site, the first event took place in London in 2014.
When the time comes, Prince George, and even his sister Princess Charlotte, will have at least one advocate encouraging them toward military service when the time comes. That's because Prince Harry previously told the Sunday Times that he would “definitely encourage George, and Charlotte if she wants to, to have some sort of involvement in the Armed Forces, guaranteed,” according to Us Weekly.
But members of the royal family are, after all, still individuals capable of making their own choices. So, only time will tell if and how the young prince chooses to carry on this tradition.