LONDON – Prince William has opted for a surprising choice of uniform for his wedding to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey on Friday.
Britain’s future King will walk down the aisle wearing his bright red tunic from his honorary position as colonel of the Irish Guards, a regiment of the British Army which has spent the last six months deployed in Afghanistan, where three of their members were killed in action.
William has not served directly with the unit, but was afforded the honorary title of Colonel due to his growing status as a senior member of the Royal Family, where he is second in line to the throne.
It was widely expected that the prince would instead get married in his formal Royal Air Force uniform, the service in which he is currently employed as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. Bookmakers Paddy Power even stopped taking bets on that choice, after more than 90 per cent of gamblers placed money on the specific outcome.
However, St James’s Palace officials confirmed that William had instead taken the step of using his highest ranking uniform, partially to honor those servicemen who lost their lives in combat. The ensemble will give him a truly regal look and will be the height of grandeur and propriety for the grand occasion.
His outfit contains a crimson and gold sash and gold sword slings, which are to be worn when officers of the unit are in the presence of a royal. He will not, as speculated, wear a sword, but will wear a Garter Sash with the Wings of the Royal Air Force, plus military medallions the Garter Star and the Golden Jubilee Medal.
William’s dazzling tunic is distinctive in that the buttons are arranged in groups of four, featuring logos of the Harp of Ireland topped by the Crown Imperial motif of the British monarchy.
Another option for William would have been to wear the uniform of the Blues and Royals, the army regiment which he was commissioned into after graduating from the Sandhurst military training academy.
Instead, that uniform will be worn by his brother and best man Prince Harry. Harry’s gear will come complete with aiguillettes – official decorative tags – a cross-belt and a gold waist belt with sword slings, but also no sword.
His attire will be adorned with badges of the Wings of the Army Air Corps, the Golden Jubilee Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign medal. Harry spent 10 weeks serving in Afghanistan until February 2008, before his tour of duty was revealed by a German newspaper and he was brought home.
There were no details, however, surrounding the dress to be worn by the bride, which has been the best-kept secret of a wedding which has seen its preparations take place firmly under the glare of the public eye.