Decoding the Medals and Sashes of Trooping the Colour
Prince William tends to wear the ceremonial uniform for the Irish Guards, where he has held the honorary title of colonel since February 2011. (You may remember him wearing this uniform at his 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton.) He accessorized with his Order of the Garter sash along with its star as well as two medals – the Queen's Golden Jubilee medal (left) and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal (right). These medals are awarded to military personnel serving during Queen Elizabeth II's jubilee celebrations.
William is also wearing his Royal Air Force wings (a nod to his time served in the RAF as a helicopter pilot until 2013) above his medals and the star for the Order of the Thistle, which he was appointed to in 2012. He is also wearing a gold aiguillette over his right shoulder to mark his 2013 appointment as personal aide-de-camp to the Queen.
Prince Harry stands out amongst his family on Buckingham Palace's balcony while wearing his distinctive navy blue dress uniform for the Blues and Royals. The uniform has a special meaning for Harry as he is a former Army captain.
He topped off his uniform with three medals – the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan (left) which is awarded to those who served in active duty in Afghanistan, the Queen's Golden Jubilee medal (center) and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal (right). Harry also wears his Army Air Corp wings above his medals. Unlike the other senior members of the royal family, Harry is not (yet) a member of the Order of the Garter, so he does not wear the distinctive blue sash. He was also appointed a Knight Commander or the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen in 2015. (Seen at right below his collar.)
Like many members of the royal family, Prince Charles has several military appointments (both honorary and former actual positions he held), so he varies his uniform for different royal events. In 2014, he wore the dress uniform for the Welsh Guards, where he has served as an honorary colonel since 1975. Like William, he also wears the Order of the Garter sash and star, the Order of the Thistle star and gold aiguillettes over his right shoulder.
His medals, from left to right are: the Queen's Service Order, the Queen's Coronation Medal, the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Canadian Forces Decoration and the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.
Prince Philip has a long and distinctive military career, having served in the Royal Navy from 1939 to 1951. So it's no surprise that he regularly wears a huge amount of medals (17 total!), which he has amassed from his active duty during World War II as well as various jubilee and coronation honors. During the 2014 Trooping the Colour, he wore the dress uniform for the Grenadier Guards, where he has served as an honorary colonel since 1975. He notably wore the Order of Merit (the cross held but a blue and red ribbon on his collar), which is a dynastic order restricted to 24 members, and the Royal Victorian Chain, which is a special honor that is held by just 12 people
In addition to the gold aiguilettes, Order of the Garter and Order of the Thistle honors that William and Charles wear, Philip also wore the Grand Cross star of the Order of the British Empire, the highest class of the order, which is a national distinction of chivalry.
While royal women are often given honorary military titles, Princess Anne is one of the only female British royals to regularly wear her uniform for ceremonial events. In 2014, the Princess Royal matched with Harry in the Blues and Royals uniform, where she serves as Colonel of the Regiment. (She's technically Harry's superior.) Anne also sported an impressive number of various jubilee and coronation medals, as well as her Order of the Gater sash and star and the Order of the Thistle star.
Prince Edward rounds out the list of royals who currently wear military uniforms to the Trooping the Colour. (Prince Andrew, Duke of York, does not wear a uniform as he served in the Royal Navy and only the Guards Division, which makes up the Foot Guards and London Regiment of the British Army, march in the event.) In 2014, he wore the dress uniform for the London Scottish Regiment, where he serves as royal honorary colonel. In addition to the Order of the Garter sash (hidden beneath the red sash of his uniform) and star, Edward also wore a star for the Royal Victorian Order (not to be confused with the Royal Victorian Chain that Philip wears, which is an award and not a chivalric order).
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
While the Queen doesn't wear ceremonial military uniforms for royal events anymore, up until 1986 she took part in the Trooping the Colour parade while in full ceremonial dress. (And while riding sidesaddle, no less!) For her last ride in the parade, the monarch wore a specially designed officer's uniform for the Scot's Guards. As Commander-In-Chief of the British Armed Forces, the Queen has her pick of many dress uniforms to choose from.
She topped off her look with an Order of the Thistle dark green sash and an Order of the Garter star. In order to stick out in the crowd, the Queen ditched the traditional bearskin hat worn by the Foot Guards for a smaller black cap.