Britain: Queen awards Prince Charles highest rank in all three military services


Britain's Prince Charles inspects the Guard of Honour at the Fort York Armoury for the 1812 Commemorative Military Muster in Toronto, May 22, 2012.

Britain's Prince Charles has been awarded the highest rank in all three military services in an honorary promotion decided by the Queen.

Queen Elizabeth on Saturday appointed Charles five-star rank in the navy, army and air force to acknowledge his support in her role as Commander-in-Chief, the BBC reported.

He becomes a Field Marshal, Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

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According to the Daily Mail, Charles joined the Army in 1969, learning to fly jet aircraft at the Royal Air Force College.

In 1971, he entered the Royal Navy, serving on a guided-missile destroyer and two frigates until qualifying as a helicopter pilot in 1974.

He left the Navy in 1976 but still holds enough ranks to run a war by himself, the Mail wrote. 

In May, Charles and his wife Camilla visited the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, where he flew as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot in the 1970s, the Canadian Press reported.

Charles made a surprise fact-finding visit to the UK's frontline troops in Afghanistan in March 2010, the Daily Mail reported.

Both his sons — princes William and Harry — are military pilots, as was his brother Prince Andrew. His other brother, Prince Edward, left the Royal Marines after only four months.

Meanwhile, the British monarch is traditionally the head of the Armed Forces and the only person who can officially declare war, according to the Daily Mail. A king or queen is also "solely responsible for raising and maintaining the army and navy."

Once upon a time, British monarchs would even lead troops into battle, although the last one to do so was George II, against France in 1743.

Two other members of the royal family hold five-star rank — the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's husband, in all three services; and the Duke of Kent, who is a Field Marshal.

According to the BBC, the convention of promoting service chiefs to five-star ranks was stopped in 1995 as an armed forces' budget cost cutting measure.