Call for Middle East royals to take up Prince Andrew's military posts

Shrinking roster of British senior royalty has left colonel-in-chief posts vacant

Prince Andrew has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday. AFP

Middle East royals who have passed out from Sandhurst should be asked to act as colonel-in-chiefs of British Army regiments with the departure of Prince Andrew, senior officers have proposed.

Monarchs, princes or dukes from outside the UK could be asked to fill the posts after the Duke of York was stripped of the honorary titles by his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

The prince held three of the largely ceremonial colonel-in-chief posts and with the departure of Prince Harry alongside the death of Prince Philip there are now seven vacancies in the army.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge presents Irish Wolfhound 'Domhnall', regimental mascot of the Irish Guards, with a sprig of shamrock during the St Patrick's Day Parade in Hounslow. Getty Images

Currently there are two non-British royals acting as colonel-in-chief with Jordan's King Abdullah II serving the Light Dragoons cavalry regiment and Queen Margarethe of Denmark the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

Luke Chauveau, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Blues and Royals, suggested that overseas royals who had attended British military academies such as Sandhurst could be asked to perform the task.

“Given that quite a large number of Middle Eastern royals have gone through Sandhurst I think this is a golden opportunity to ask them to take on these colonelships with their proper and serious connections with British military.

“The key is be involved, as you find with King Abdullah who wears his Light Dragoons cap badge comes over and gets amongst it. It's about identifying some Middle East royals with military service who could do this.”

Colonel Tim Collins, who served in the Royal Irish Regiment that until Thursday had Prince Andrew as its colonel-in-chief, agreed that the army should look beyond Britain.

“There is a precedent for this as in the past we’ve had foreign royals, even Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. I see no reason why not to use a European or Middle Eastern royal as it is a well-trodden path.”

King Abdullah II of Jordan inspects the Officer Cadets during the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2017. Getty Images

He did pay tribute to Prince Andrew stating that he had been a “true friend” of his regiment. “Andrew will be missed, certainly by the Royal Irish Regiment because he was a true friend as he demonstrated many times, visiting bereaved families and travelling to Northern Ireland in times of crisis.”

There is also speculation that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge could take up the vacant Royal Irish Regiment post.

“Given that her husband Prince William is the Royal colonel of the Irish Guards it may well be that Kate becomes the colonel,” said Col Collins. “It would certainly be something nice to have.”

The duchess, who served as a military wife when her husband was in the RAF, could find herself with more appointments with fewer senior royals left to undertake the role.

Beyond Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, who holds several honorary titles and her brother Prince Edward there are few royals left.

It will be down to the regimental colonels with vacancies to discuss new appointments with the Royal Household and potentially with some input from the Foreign Office if overseas royalty are to be invited.

Colonel Tim Collins inspects the memorial at Al Amara in 2003. Getty Images

“The numbers in the royal family are diminishing so with the Duke of Edinburgh sadly departed, Prince Harry stood down and now Prince Andrew we’ve got fewer royals yet the same amount of colonelships,” said Mr Chauveau. “To fill them the regiments may well have to look further afield."

There has been tradition of foreign royals of taking on the ceremonial posts in the British Army stretching back more than a century with the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia with the Royal Scots Greys post and Kaiser Wilhelm with the 1st Royal Dragoons.

The posts left vacant by Prince Andrew are Colonel of the Grenadier Guards; colonel-in-chief the Royal Irish Regiment, the Yorkshire Regiment and the Small Arms School Corps; Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm; Royal colonel of the Royal Highland Fusiliers and of the Royal Regiment of Scotland; deputy colonel-in-chief of The Royal Lancers.

Updated: January 14th 2022, 4:41 PM