Queen Elizabeth II and the Armed Forces

The Queen has a long and close relationship with the Armed Forces, both in the United Kingdom and in the Commonwealth.


Wherever you are deployed in the world, you should be assured that I and the whole nation are deeply thankful for the part you play in helping to maintain peace around the globe.

The Queen's Broadcast to the Armed Forces, 2009

As Sovereign, The Queen is Head of the Armed Forces, and is also the wife, mother and grandmother of individuals having served in the Forces.


It is a tradition of very long standing that the Sovereign, and members of the Royal Family, are intimately associated with the Armed Forces and have been proud to serve in all three services.

A speech by The Queen at the Armed Forces Muster, 2012

The Queen's relationship with the Armed Forces began when, as Princess Elizabeth, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1945, becoming the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member. During her time in the ATS, the Princess learnt to drive and to maintain vehicles.


Since then, The Queen has maintained a close relationship with the Armed Forces through regular visits to service establishments and ships. She holds many military appointments and honorary ranks.


As is the tradition for the monarch's birthday, The Queen's birthday is celebrated every year with the great military display of Trooping of the Colour. For many years, The Queen attended Trooping on horseback and dressed in military uniform.

The Queen also spends much time meeting servicemen and women of all ranks, and their families, both at home and on overseas trips.

In addition to awarding various military honours at investitures, The Queen also introduced the Elizabeth Cross. The first medal to which The Queen put her name, this was instituted in 2009 to give special recognition to the families of those who have died on military operations, or as a result of terrorism, since 1948.


I greatly hope that the Elizabeth Cross will give further meaning to the nation’s debt of gratitude to the families and loved ones of those who have died in the service of our country. We will remember them all.

The Queen's Broadcast to the Armed Forces, 2009


In addition to honours, The Queen also leads the nation each year in paying respects to the fallen each year on Remembrance Sunday.