Features – The Sovereign’s Colour

The origin of military Colours dates from the Middle Ages when each Lord or Baron had his own banner bearing his coat of arms and which was carried at the head of his personal army. In Elizabethan times, many infantry captains came from humbler families without personal coats of arms and adopted flags of distinctive coloured patterns which became known as “The Colours”. Regimental Colours came into use during the Civil War and were carried on active service until 1881.

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force was the first United Kingdom reserve formation to be awarded a Colour. Known as the Sovereign’s Colour, it was presented by Her Majesty The Queen at Royal Air Force Benson in 1989.

Following established precedent, the Sovereign’s Colour is made of hand embroidered RAF blue silk, is three feet and nine inches square and is carried on a pike eight feet and six inches long, surmounted by a gilded crown to which are attached 2 light blue 30 inch tassels. It is carried in a belt of blue-grey barathea edged with gold and light-blue lace embroidered in gold with the Royal Cypher in the centre. At the top left is the Union Flag whilst the Astral Crown, taken from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Badge, is at the bottom right.

Having been paraded on ???? occasions over its 23 year history, the Sovereign’s Colour was laid up on 28 October 2012 in St Clement Danes Church at a Service organised by the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Foundation and linked to the Consecration of the Force’s Roll of Honour.