Watch: Prince Harry 'defiantly' told Prince William he would not shave for his wedding
Of all the revelations in the Duke of Sussex’s new memoir, Spare, there’s one in particular that seems rather bizarre: when the Prince William asked Prince Harry to shave off his beard before Harry’s wedding.
In his book, Harry explains that, “a beard was thought by some to be a clear violation of protocol and long-standing norms, especially since I was getting married in my army uniform. Beards were forbidden in the British Army.”
Because Harry was getting married in his army uniform, even though he was no longer part of the Army, he explained that William thought it was inappropriate for him to sport a beard.
During Harry’s interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby, the journalist said in a voiceover: “The argument about the beard is one of the most puzzling in the book. Harry claims he went to see his granny, the Queen, to ask, as required, for permission to keep his beard for his own wedding. She was amenable, William was not.
“There was then an argument, Harry says, between the two brothers that went on for a week and ended, he claims, with his brother ordering him, as the heir to the spare, to shave it off.”
When asked about the altercation, Harry said: “There’s a level of competition there. And again, writing this, I remembered that William had a beard himself and that granny and other people, the ones to tell – told him that he had to shave it off.”
Harry explained that he thought “William found it hard that other people told him to shave it off”, but Harry refused to shave it as he wouldn't look or feel himself without it.
“I would feel very, very different without my beard,” Harry added, explaining that it was almost like a “shield to my anxiety”.
“That’s hard for people to understand who’ve never grown a beard,” he continued. “Hopefully those beard people out there will go ‘Yeah, no, I fully get that, I can understand.’”
At the time he also told his brother, "Well I don't believe Meghan's gonna recognise me if she comes up the aisle and sees me beardless."
Harry isn’t the first member of the Royal Family to grow a beard. As he pointed out, Prince William grew one in 2008, but it’s been sported by older generations too – even King Charles had a beard in his twenties.
Read on for the other Royal Family members who have sported beards.
William, the Prince of Wales
Prince William grew out his beard in 2008 when he was 26 years old, shortly after he and the Princess of Wales reconciled after breaking up in 2007.
William grew the beard during a 10-day exercise in Barbados with the Navy's Special Boat Service, the Telegraph reported at the time.
Unlike the Army, the Royal Navy allows a full beard, although no moustaches or goatees are permitted.
William kept the beard for a short period, and was even pictured with a beard at Sandringham for Christmas that year, until it was reported that Queen Elizabeth II asked him to shave it off.
“She doesn’t mind royal men growing beards when they are away in the armed forces, but she expects them to be clean-shaven when they get home,” a royal source told the Sunday Express in 2014.
King Charles III
King Charles III even sported a beard in his younger years, as he was pictured several times with facial hair in 1976 when he was 27 years old.
That year was the only time the monarch has been seen publicly with a beard, and it’s hard not to see his resemblance to Prince Harry.
Prince Philip was seen sporting a beard several times during his younger years. He was known to have had a beard in both 1945 and 1957, the latter featured on a cover of Paris Match magazine from that year.
In 2021, shortly after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, royal photographer Chris Jackson tweeted an image of the magazine cover, writing: “I was reminded of this incredible vintage @ParisMatch magazine from 1957 I acquired a few years ago earlier today – A bearded and uniformed Prince Philip looking fantastically suave on the cover.”
Prince Andrew was another royal fan of facial hair, growing out his beard twice in the 1980s, when he was 23 and 25-year-old.
He was spotted at several events with a beard in 1983, and subsequently grew out his beard again in 1985 during his time in the Navy.
Prince Harry has kept his beard for the longest of any British Royal Family member in recent history, having first grown his now-iconic ginger beard in 2013. It has been a staple feature for the Prince ever since he met his wife Meghan Markle in 2016.
When Harry and Meghan married in 2018, Harry became the first Royal Family member to marry while sporting a beard in 125 years – the last was George V, the son of Queen Victoria.