Prince George, Princess Charlotte: Royal kids could be impacted by Rishi Sunak’s promised national service

As the UK’s General Election is looming closer, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced his plan for a twelve-month mandatory national service. Every 18-year-old could be concerned by the measure, but what about royal children?

Prince George Princess Charlotte Prince Louis Royal children Rishi Sunak National Service
© Karwai Tang / GETTY IMAGES
Prince George Princess Charlotte Prince Louis Royal children Rishi Sunak National Service

The UK is going through a time of renewal. On 22 May 2024, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the country would hold its first General Election since December 2019 on 4 July.

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After this announcement, major political players started campaigning; laying out their intentions were they to win. That is of course the case of the man currently sitting in Downing Street: Rishi Sunak.

One of his promises is a mandatory national service of twelve months. BBC News explains that would require every 18-year-old to ‘apply for one of 30,000 full-time military placements or volunteer one weekend a month carrying out a community service.’

Though we know through Prince William that Prince George might want to be a pilot when he grows up, we also know that the Waleses have no intention of forcing their children to serve in the military. Would that scheme wreck the couple’s plans and apply to the royal kids as well? Let’s have a look.

The Wales children and the military

Rishi Sunak’s announcement brings back into the spotlight reports done around Prince George’s 10th birthday in July 2023. At the time, historian Dominic Sandbrook spoke to The Mail on Sunday explaining that tradition within the Royal Family is changing, especially when it concerns serving in the military.

At the time, Mail Online also spoke to an anonymous friend of Prince William who, commenting on the Waleses’ wish to allow their children to follow their own passions, stated that ‘in theory, there is nothing to stop George from pursuing a career as an astronaut’.

They continued:

The rules are different now, he wouldn’t necessarily have to follow the old formula of going into the military and then Royal life

Breaking that tradition would be a significant gesture from the Waleses and it is therefore encouraging royal commentators to share their thoughts. In the Mail, many have done so and while some believe it could be a sign that ‘times are moving on’ others deplore the change.

On that, royal biographer A. N. Wilson said:

This is a very great change to the way it has always been done and I think he should be told, “Sorry, you can’t choose.” It does feel like a bit of a snub to the Armed Forces.


it is also helpful to have a uniform, otherwise we may as well have a President in a suit as our head of state.

A point with which historian Dominic Sandbrook agrees with. He argues:

The tradition of royals joining the Armed Forces, even for brief periods, lends crucial legitimacy to the monarchy.

‘Limited exemptions’ for royal kids

The Conservatives’ announcement could definitely be putting the Waleses’ wish on the sidelines. Indeed, The Telegraph reports that the Conservative Party told them that the ‘royal children [would be] expected to take part.’

The publication also explains that ‘limited exemptions’ from participation will be allowed and that therefore, they do not apply to children of the Royal Family. However, it remains unknown what the exemptions could be.

The Waleses children aren’t the only ones who would be affected by the Conservatives’ measure. Indeed, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh’s son, James, as well as the children of the Tindalls, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice could also be impacted.

When it comes to Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ children, it is unknown whether or not they would have to submit to this measure. According to BBC News, it remains unsure ‘whether UK citizens living overseas would be required to return in order to complete national service’.

As a reminder, the Sussex children hold dual citizenship.

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BBC News: Conservatives want to bring back compulsory national service

Mail Online: EXCLUSIVE: Prince George will not be expected to join the armed forces before becoming King breaking centuries of tradition

The Telegraph: Young royals face National Service under Sunak’s election plans

BBC News: What is the Tory national service plan and how might it work?

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