Click to escape. Subject to Crown Copyright
Category: Flags

Click to go up one level

This page is a sub category index

The Queen's & Regimental Colours; a history

"A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole
It does not look likely, to stir a mans soul
'Tis the deeds that were done neath the moth-eaten rag
When the pole was a staff, and the rag was a flag"

- Sir Edward Hamley

1st Colour, First Colour, Royal Colour, Senior Colour, Sovereign's Colour, King's Colour, Queen's Colour all refer to the same thing.

2nd Colour, Second Colour, Regimental Colour, Company Colour, Battalion Colour, Junior Colour all refer to the other colour.

2 Colours together are called a Stand of Colours


The Sovereign's and Regimental Colours

  • The idea of a military unit having a distinctive flag goes back 5,000 years. From that has grown the practice of Australian fighting units having what is called the King's ( or Queen's as the case may be) and Regimental Colours. 
  • It is a practice that we borrowed from the British Army. 
  • To explain their history which is the foundation of ours I have chosen the Unit known as 

The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)The Royal Scots cap badge

Their history is one of continual service since 1633 with the only major change being the number of Battalions in service at any one time. That differs from the Australian way of raising a Force, helping to win the war and then disbanding that Force. 

However since the end of WW2 Australia has decided to maintain a small standing Army and so the matter of The Colours is more important.

The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) is the oldest Line Regiment in the British Army and as such is the senior Infantry Regiment of the Line. (That also makes it the senior Infantry Regiment of the Empire and/or Commonwealth.)  

It was raised in 1633 when Sir John Hepburn, under a Royal Warrant from King Charles I, recruited 1200 men in Scotland. The first battle honour awarded to the Regiment was Tangier 1680, since when a further 148 have been gained in a history which has involved them in almost every campaign the British Army has fought; the last being the Gulf War 1991.

  • The Queen’s Colour is a reminder to all ranks of their loyalty and duty to their sovereign and their Country. 
  • The Regimental Colour is a symbol of Regimental tradition and of the duty owed by each member to the Regiment. 
  • Battle Honours are emblazoned on the Colours.


Pikeman of the Royal Scots

Open sub-category

Sub category index


  • Battle honours are highly cherished by every Regiment. They are awarded by the Sovereign to commemorate a particularly gallant action.

  • It is traditional that a Regiment's Battle Honours are embroidered on the Regimental Colours, but it is not physically possible to carry them all. The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) has been awarded 149 Battle Honours. All 29 Honours awarded before the First World War are borne on the Regimental Colour as is the one awarded since 1945. 

  • The Queen's Colour contains I0 selected scrolls for each of the two World Wars, some scrolls contain more than one battle honour, e.g. Marne 1914, 18. Thus the Queens Colour contains 15 Battle Honours for the Great War and 11 for the Second World War.

  • It can be seen that of the 149 awarded only 56 are on the Colours even with the amalgamated Honours of the World Wars.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

A group of 24 Colours & Guidons from the British Army circa 1914. Click images to enlarge

A Colour Party of the Royal Regiment of Canada

for information about Australian Colours

Open sub-category

Statistics : Over 35 million page visitors since  11 Nov 2002  



 Search   Help     Guestbook   Get Updates   Last Post    The Ode      FAQ     Digger Forum

Click for news

Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces