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HYPOTHETICAL RANKS

Alternate British rank insignia?

Dealing primarily with contemporary and historical Earth nations. (Science-fiction oriented rank systems, such as Star Trek, Starship Troopers, etc.), should be placed in FICTIVE Rank Insignia.

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Alternate British rank insignia?

Unread postby general_tiu » Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:13 pm

I found this in a site.

http://www.geocities.com/commentariat/d ... f_rank.htm

In all, the author says that the British rank insignia system has flaws and should be corrected.
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Unread postby Medic_in_Uniform » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:30 pm

I've looked at these pages before and I'm afraid I find several of the arguments put forward to be deeply flawed. The author would appear to have some fundamental misconceptions about the way in which these systems evolve and are currently applied by different nations.

He also appears to be attempting to apply a level of rigid logic to the "numerical equivalence" of different individual markings within the overall scheme of rank insignia which is not necessarily appropriate.
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Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Thu Mar 29, 2007 3:44 pm

Medic_in_Uniform wrote:I've looked at these pages before and I'm afraid I find several of the arguments put forward to be deeply flawed. The author would appear to have some fundamental misconceptions about the way in which these systems evolve and are currently applied by different nations.

He also appears to be attempting to apply a level of rigid logic to the "numerical equivalence" of different individual markings within the overall scheme of rank insignia which is not necessarily appropriate.


I thought the same thing. The (apparently anonymous?) fellow has some interesting ideas, but they seem like solutions in search of a problem.

One thing I wondered about, though: He shows RN full dress shoulder boards for all commissioned ranks. Are these official? It was my understanding that the cermonial day coat was authorized flag officers only, with exceptions apparently having been made for the Prince of Wales and Duke of York. Are these royal instances enough to prompt regualtions for gold shoulder boards for all officer grades?

At any rate, those insignia would be so rare (and always backed up by sleeve lace) that I can't really see making a fuss about them.

best regards,
Justin
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Unread postby ChrisWI » Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:01 pm

Has anyone ever attempted to do rank insignia for if Britain was a republic rather then a constitutional monarchy? I wont what the rank insignias would look like in that case.
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Unread postby Medic_in_Uniform » Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:41 pm

An interesting point but I suspect that it's relatively easily answered by looking at those Commonwealth countries which maintain rank insignia based upon the British system but for whom the British monarch is no longer the Head of State.

For many such countries, the British pattern of insignia is maintained in its entirety, with the simple amendment of exchanging the Crown, where it appears, for a different emblem of national significance although some have subsequently altered some other details (e.g. by introducing US-style stars for general/flag ranks).

I would suggest, therefore, that a hypothetical republican Britain would simply do the same and replace the Crown with some new National emblem. This would, I guess, apply across the board and would therefore also encompass things like regimental insignia and cap badges.

Does that make sense?
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Unread postby Medic_in_Uniform » Sat Mar 31, 2007 11:11 pm

J.T. Broderick wrote:One thing I wondered about, though: He shows RN full dress shoulder boards for all commissioned ranks. Are these official? It was my understanding that the cermonial day coat was authorized flag officers only, with exceptions apparently having been made for the Prince of Wales and Duke of York. Are these royal instances enough to prompt regualtions for gold shoulder boards for all officer grades?

At any rate, those insignia would be so rare (and always backed up by sleeve lace) that I can't really see making a fuss about them.

best regards,
Justin

I'd agree, it does seem a bit superfluous!

As far as I know, the day coat is indeed limited to Flag Officers, but with the stipulated exception of members of the Royal Family - hence it's use by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York when not Flag Officers. I guess the specifications for the full-dress, gold-faced, shoulder-board rank insignia must still exist somewhere but my understanding is that they are simply derived from the pattern of insignia worn on the old bullion-fringed dress epaulettes, as shown on your site.

A certain amount of updating would obviously need to apply though: the insignia of the old Executive Branch ranks would presumably now be worn by all officers. Equally, the recently updated numbers of stars for Admirals also applies and the insignia for Captains and Commodores are (if I remember correctly...!) streamlined to one and two stars respectively. I'm unsure what happened to Commodore in the recant changes to Flag Rank stars - but I'm not aware of them being granted the old one-star boards, as previously used by rear admirals. Personally, I think it's a shame the Royal Navy bowed to modern "convention" and changed their numbers of stars to match those of their US counterparts; the eight-point stars of RN admirals have been around a LOT longer than the five-point stars of USN admirals!

The Royal Navy doesn't have an "Ensign" rank (only Acting Sub-Lieutenant) so that is an irrelevance which only leaves the rank of Sub-Lieutenant itself. I honestly can't remember if it should be a single star or a blank shoulder-board but, as we're almost certainly never going to see it used, I really don't think it matters!

Actually, to expand upon this a little further, the Duke of York, as a Lieutenant, wore standard No.1 Dress for his marriage in 1986 and not the day coat although as a Commander in 2002 he did wear the day coat for the funeral of his grandmother. The Prince of Wales, as a Commander, wore the day coat for his marriage in 1981.All of which stirs vague memories that I may have read somewhere that the absolute restriction in its use may be officers of the rank of Commander and above (in other words, only if you're entitled to oak leaves!). Anyway, all of this is entirely tangential to the original point of this thread, so I'll stop now!

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Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Mon Apr 02, 2007 7:06 pm

Medic_in_Uniform wrote:As far as I know, the day coat is indeed limited to Flag Officers, but with the stipulated exception of members of the Royal Family - hence it's use by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York when not Flag Officers. I guess the specifications for the full-dress, gold-faced, shoulder-board rank insignia must still exist somewhere but my understanding is that they are simply derived from the pattern of insignia worn on the old bullion-fringed dress epaulettes, as shown on your site.


I see, thank you. I thought maybe there was just a single catch-all shoulder board design for captain and below. I can't find any really good pictures online that show the PoW or DoY's shoulder boards as commanders, but in some images from the Charles-Diana wedding it looks as if there is just a crown on the shoulder board, no anchor, plus the royal cypher for a personal ADC to the queen. But it's hard to tell.


A certain amount of updating would obviously need to apply though: the insignia of the old Executive Branch ranks would presumably now be worn by all officers. Equally, the recently updated numbers of stars for Admirals also applies and the insignia for Captains and Commodores are (if I remember correctly...!) streamlined to one and two stars respectively.


Yes, that's true. Executive branch epaulettes were extended to all officers in late 1918, just after the war ended, and both grades of captain combined with one epaulette star in 1924.

Personally, I think it's a shame the Royal Navy bowed to modern "convention" and changed their numbers of stars to match those of their US counterparts; the eight-point stars of RN admirals have been around a LOT longer than the five-point stars of USN admirals!


I agree, that was a change that really didn't seem necessary. I doubt there were major issues of confusion, but probably something more along the lines of a few very senior officers feeling an extra star would befit their status!

But hey, it's true that RN stars are older than the USN's, but we gave commodores one star in 1802 (and apparently worn unofficially before that), so I don't know if I'd say a LOT longer!

The Royal Navy doesn't have an "Ensign" rank (only Acting Sub-Lieutenant) so that is an irrelevance which only leaves the rank of Sub-Lieutenant itself. I honestly can't remember if it should be a single star or a blank shoulder-board but, as we're almost certainly never going to see it used, I really don't think it matters!


And that would be the main discrepance with the epaulettes, as it was the bullion fringe (or lack) that distinguished sub-lieutenant from lieutenant. The system shown on the website in question makes sense, that way, but I didn't know if it was official or just his extrapolation.

Actually, to expand upon this a little further, the Duke of York, as a Lieutenant, wore standard No.1 Dress for his marriage in 1986 and not the day coat although as a Commander in 2002 he did wear the day coat for the funeral of his grandmother. The Prince of Wales, as a Commander, wore the day coat for his marriage in 1981.All of which stirs vague memories that I may have read somewhere that the absolute restriction in its use may be officers of the rank of Commander and above (in other words, only if you're entitled to oak leaves!).


It is interesting that Prince Andrew didn't wear that uniform until he had left active duty, perhaps he didn't want to set himself apart from fellow serving officers? AFAIK the first major event where Prince Charles wore the day tailcoat was Lord Mountbatten's funeral in 1979, also after leaving active duty.

Anyway, all of this is entirely tangential to the original point of this thread, so I'll stop now!


Well, I don't care about that, in fact I'll derail the thread further with some more questions: Is the day coat uniform optional or required for flag officers? Is it worn by female flag officers?

Best regards,
Justin
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Unread postby Medic_in_Uniform » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:42 am

Lots of things to note; some about the day coat, some about the insignia.

First, the day coat. A couple of thoughts here - the Prince of Wales was already a commander at the time of Lord Mountbatten's funeral, so that doesn't really help us. By the same token, both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh were wearing the day coats at the Duke of York's wedding. I can't say absolutely for sure as I can't find the references to the use of the day coat any more, so this is based on informed speculation and memory, but I'm pretty certain it's rank related. As far as women are concerned, the day coat does not appear to be authorised - the photographs of the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother clearly show the Princess Royal to be wearing flag rank No.1 Dress when her father and two of her brothers are clearly wearing the day coat.

On the matter of the shoulder boards, I've clarified (well, as much as I can!) some details with some naval colleagues and my understanding is that (a) Commodore is now very much a substantive rank on par with Brigadier and Air Commodore and is no longer just a temporary position in the RN (which we knew anyway); (b) RN shoulderboard insignia for Rear Admiral, Vice-Admiral and Admiral all gained an extra star a few years back to minimise confusion with other NATO services (probably unnecessary and a bit of a shame, but there it is) and (c) that Commodores were indeed authorised use of the old one-star shoulderboards (ie the previous Rear Admirals' insignia) at the same time.

For the moment, it would seem that Commodores will continue to wear a single row of oakleaves on their caps and will continue to fly broad pennants, not flags - although either of these is potentially open to change. The bottom line seemed to be that, even several years on, a lot of the Royal Navy were just as confused about this as anyone else! Army Brigadiers wear one row of oak leaves and are not General Officers, yet Air Commodores in the RAF wear two rows and are classified as being of "Air Rank" along with the Air Marshals. A lot of historical confusion there...!

What I don't know is whether or not all other RN ranks gained a star as well - in other words, does a Captain, RN now have a crown and TWO stars above his anchor to match the crown and two stars of an army Colonel, and so on... In many ways this would make sense and would make the naval rank markings parallel their army counterparts much more closely. On the other hand, it's largely a complete irrelevance as these shoulderboards are almost never seen and are used even less! With that in mind, I suspect they haven't been changed at all.

Finally, I think I recall reading somewhere that Sub-Lieutenants used to wear plain, un-fouled anchors, whereas Lieutenants wore the full, fouled anchor. I'll check this and get back to you.
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Unread postby sketor7558 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:19 am

HRH the Duke of York
Image
Image
as Commander
Image
Image
as Captain
so its basically the same as the old naval epaulettes
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Unread postby Medic_in_Uniform » Tue Apr 03, 2007 2:47 pm

Thanks, Sketor - those are exactly the sort of images I did a quick search for but didn't find!

The Duke of York was promoted to Honorary Captain, RN in July 2005 (strange that it wasn't a substantive promotion, given that he actually was a career officer...!) so those pictures clearly post-date the changes to the Commodores' and Admirals' insignia. I agree that it would indeed seem safe to assume that the other ranks are therefore unchanged.

As to the Air Commodore anomaly, it does seem a little odd that the secondary detailing of the two rows of oak leaves on the peak was never amended to one row, in order to bring them into line with Commodore, RN and Brigadier after the latter was re-designated from Brigadier-General (via Colonel-Commandant).

Officers' peak decoration, however, is hardly standardised across the services; a Lieutenant-Commander, RN has no peak decoration but a Commander, RN has one row of oak leaves. In the Army and the Royal Marines, the equivalent ranks of Major and Lieutenant-Colonel are both granted a passing peak with a band of raised gold embroidery, although this is only ever worn on dress caps and not on service caps; only full Colonels and Brigadiers wear oak leaves. The RAF is even less generous as their equivalent ranks of Squadron Leader and Wing Commander have no peak decoration at all and only Group Captain is granted the single row of oak leaves.

If one was to follow the logic put forward by the author of the commentary which gave rise to this thread then all of this should be scrapped in favour of homogenised insignia of seniority. I can, in some ways see that this would make sense but the counter argument is that each service has its own traditions and these are perfectly good as they are, so why tinker with things?!

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Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:37 pm

Thank you, that is very all very interesting!

A couple of thoughts here - the Prince of Wales was already a commander at the time of Lord Mountbatten's funeral, so that doesn't really help us. By the same token, both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh were wearing the day coats at the Duke of York's wedding.


Yes, I'm sure you're right about the uniform being limited to commander and up. What I was thinking was that there were occasions after Prince Andrew made commander on active duty that he did not wear the tailcoat, while his father and brother did. I could be wrong, though.

Thanks for posting the images, Sketor. As you say, that does seem to confirm that the old epaulette insignia are used. It looks like the shoulder board had to be lengthened a bit to accomodate the star! What the sub-lieutenant would wear is another question, but that's academic.

But check this out:
Image

It looks like the insignia for commander have changed since 1981!

Best regards,
Justin
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