What did King Charles do in the military and what medals does he have?
During coverage of Queen Elizabeth II would have noticed members of the Royal family dressed in military uniforms at various times, it wasn’t ceremonial.
Those that tuned in to the coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s death and funeral would have noticed members of the royal family were wearing military uniforms. The British royals have a long history of serving in the armed forces of the nation.
Queen Elizabeth II herself was active in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. She trained as a driver and mechanic, achieving the rank of Junior Commander, equivalent of Captain. Her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was credited with heroic acts during the same conflict. So it should come as no surprise that King Charles III himself joined the armed forces.
King Charles III military service
The British monarch began his military career 8 March 1971 with the Royal Air Force (RAF) training as a jet pilot at the RAF college Cranwell. He flew himself there having gained his private pilot’s license during his second year at Cambridge under instruction from the RAF at his own request.
In September that same year, after completing the four-month training course and participating in the passing out parade, he went to Dartmouth. There he did the six-week course at the Royal Naval College, where his father and his great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten had also begun their naval careers. The then prince began his active service on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and served on several more ships according to his Royal biography.
In 1974, Charles joined the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton where he trained as a helicopter pilot. Upon qualifying he was assigned to 845 Naval Air Squadron on board the commando carrier HMS Hermes.
King Charles III promotions in the military
Before becoming the head of the British Armed Forces, King Charles III moved his way through the ranks in all three branches of the armed forces.
The day of his Investiture as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle at the age of 20, he received his first Colonelcy-in-Chief in The Royal Regiment of Wales. In 1975, he became Colonel of the Welsh Guards.
King Charles III was given command of his own ship, the minehunter HMS Bronington in 1976, after finishing a lieutenant’s course at the Royal Naval College Greenwich. He served out his final ten months of regular service on the HMS Bronington, departing in December 1976. The following month he was promoted to the rank of Commander and ended his active service in the Royal Navy later in 1977.
Shortly before his thirtieth birthday that year, he was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment. However, while he had experience parachuting, the first time he got stuck upside down in the rigging, he had not completed the Army’s training course to be a parachutist. The then Prince of Wales felt he could not “look them in the eye” nor wear the Parachute Regiment’s famous beret and wings badge unless he had done the course. So, he asked to do so and subsequently completed it.
King Charles III has been promoted through the ranks over the years, coinciding with his birthday’s in 1988, 1998 and 2002. He was promoted to Admiral in the Royal Navy, General in the Army and Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force in 2006. Upon ascension to the throne, as the King of the United Kingdom, he is now the head of the British Armed Forces.
King Charles is highly decorated for service at particular times and places, though he has never seen active combat duty.