Jeremy Paxman outlined three reasons why royals join military: ‘Won’t tittle-tattle!’


JEREMY PAXMAN once outlined three reasons why members of the Royal Family join the military in a throwback lecture about the monarchy.

He has also tackled the big questions of the day for decades, including that of the monarchy.

Mr Paxman, who was a republican in his youth, came around to the idea of a monarchy while researching for his book ‘On Royalty’.

He concluded, after looking into it over a period of time, that it is a better system than one that could be devised today.

His research meant he has some interesting insight as to how The Firm works, which he bestowed upon students an event in 2012.

During the Anthony Sampson Seminar, he explained why members of the Royal Family often join the military.

Jeremy Paxman explained three reasons why royals join military: 'Won't tittle-tattle!'

Jeremy Paxman explained three reasons why royals join military: ‘Won’t tittle-tattle!’ (Image: GETTY)

Jeremy Paxman: Hosted BBC's 'Newsnight'

Jeremy Paxman: Hosted BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ (Image: GETTY)

Prince William was in the RAF, while Prince Harry joined the British Army and even served two tours of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew were both in the Royal Navy, as was their father Prince Philip.

The first reason he gave was that those serving in the armed forces were unlikely to have their comrades “tittle-tattle” to the press, unlike in most other walks of life.

The second was that servicemen and women swear an oath to the monarch and it is important that they understand that world.

And finally, he argued there was also a historical element to it, in that in the past the Crown was often won through battle.

Indeed, even outside the The Firm, people with family members serving in the Forces are more likely to join up themselves.


Prince Harry: In Afghanistan

Prince Harry: In Afghanistan (Image: GETTY)

Mr Paxman said: “They do military training for a number of reasons.

“One of which is that it’s one of the few communities left in Britain where you can be reasonably confident that people will not tittle-tattle to the newspapers.

“Another being that all soldiers, sailors and airmen and airwomen swear an oath to the monarch.

“And you really cannot have a monarch who is unfamiliar with what that involves.

“And thirdly, there’s the historical precedent, which is that all monarchies eventually essentially have begun in combat.”

King George: Inspects Navy fleet

King George: Inspects Navy fleet (Image: GETTY)

Mr Paxman went on to stress that that the royals’ military history “won’t do” as an explanation for why the country still has a monarchy – the central question of his lecture.

He added that the preservation of the monarchy has “nothing to do” with military service.

The presenter also looked at some of the British royals who have served in the armed forces throughout history.

The Queen’s father, George VI, who later became King, experienced combat during World War 1 at the Battle of Jutland with the Royal Navy.

His elder brother, Edward VIII, who later abdicated the throne to him, was stationed in France during the war.

However, Edward, much to his disappointment, was kept far from the frontline over fears he might be captured by the Germans.

He referenced the military service of modern royals such as Prince Harry, pointing out that royals now pose a security risk when deployed to the frontline.

The broadcaster said that, compared to previous generations of the Royal Family, it was now a “liability” to have royals so far up the line of succession in the midst of the action, and that they put their colleagues’ lives at risk just by being there.

Indeed, the Duke of Sussex had to return home early from his first tour of Afghanistan because it was leaked he was out there, jeopardising the safety of his unit.

He said: “They become such a high-value target that they jeopardise the lives of their comrades.”

‘University Challenge’ is available on BBC iPlayer.


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