Shakespeare was fond of a bit of beard-related hijinks – all those comedic disguises and witches with hirsute chins – but even history’s greatest playwright couldn’t compete with the fuzzy-faced drama being played out on the world stage right now.
Prince Harrytaking a cut-throat razor to his relationship with his older brother, inflicted another nick by a thousand cuts in his recent ITV interview with Tom Bradby about him explosive autobiography ‘Spare’ by focusing on all matters follicular. Having taken a swipe at his brother’s bald patch (‘alarming’ and ‘advanced’, apparently), the royal’s most recent revelation was that Prince William was ‘livid’ at Harry for keeping his ginger whiskers for his wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018.
The decision to sport his signature facial hair raised eyebrows; he was the first royal groom to do so since 1893, when his great great grandfather Prince George V married Princess Mary of Teck. Who knew the bushy outcrop was causing such consternation behind those foreboding palace doors? Apparently Harold (as we now know him) had to ask the Queen’s approval and incur the wrath of Prince William to keep his beard. Military rules surrounding the sporting of facial hair are myriad, and apparently strict.
“The rules for serving servicemen are clear and are set out in Dress Regulations: in the Navy you must be clean shaven or grow a ‘full set’, in the RAF it’s clean shaven or a moustache, and in the Army it’s as for the RAF except for Pioneer Sergeants who (uniquely) may grow a full set,” says military dress expert and author Christopher Joll.
Harry wasn’t actually a serving member of the Armed Forces when he married Meghan Markle – he quit in 2015 to set up the Invictus Games – so while tradition might dictate a clean jawline, there’s no official rule. However, concerned that Meghan wouldn’t recognize him at the altar without it there was no budging Harry – the beard remained.