Learn why Prince Harry rides with Princess Kate and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, for Trooping the Colour

By Diana Pearl
June 16, 2017 02:05 PM

Your burning Trooping the Colour question, answered.

During the festivities this weekend, which celebrate the Queen’s official birthday, Prince Harry won’t be riding horseback alongside his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William.

Instead, he’ll likely be seated in one of the many carriages that carry the members of the royal family to Buckingham Palace in the annual event’s traditional parade. In years past, he’s sat in the same carriage as Princess Kate and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

But why doesn’t Harry get to ride on horseback like William and Charles do? Well, it’s a matter of position.

Prince William and Prince Charles are royal colonels, which is a position given by the Queen to a member of the royal family that serves as Colonel-in-Chief of a regiment in the British army or navy. In addition to William and Charles, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward are all royal colonels, as is the Queen herself, and a number of other royal cousins, like the Duke of Kent and The Duke of Gloucester.

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However, not all royal colonels get to ride on horseback during Trooping the Color. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is also a royal colonel, as is Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and neither of them have ever ridden on horseback during the celebratory day — neither does Prince Andrew or Prince Edward. The Queen and Prince Philip also ride in a carriage (though the Queen has ridden on horseback in the past!), but at 91 and 96, respectively, we can’t say we blame them.

That’s because Charles, William and Anne are all Colonels of the Household Division, which affords them that special privilege.

Trooping The Colour 2016
Trooping the Colour 2016
| Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Typically, the carriages are filled with members of the same “immediate” family — Prince Andrew with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, Prince Edward and Sophie with their children, Lady Louise and Viscount James, and Prince Harry with the other two members who aren’t riding on horseback: Princess Kate and Camilla.

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Though Prince Harry is not yet a royal colonel, the position could very well be in his future. His history of involvement in the military aside, as all the Queen’s children are royal colonels, Harry could become one when Prince Charles eventually is king. Or earlier, if the Queen decides to bestow the title on him.

And Prince George and Princess Charlotte? In the past, they haven’t ridden in a carriage at all, instead staying inside until it’s time for the annual Buckingham Palace balcony appearance and flypast. But perhaps this could be the year for their carriage debut — we know the two royal kids have their waves ready!