Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy)
Admiral of the Fleet is the highest rank of the British Royal Navy (NATO rank code OF-10) although routine appointments ceased in 1995. It is a five-star rank, equivalent to a field marshal in the British Army or a marshal of the Royal Air Force.
The rank evolved from sailing days and the admiral distinctions then used by the Royal Navy when the fleet was divided into three divisions – red, white, or blue. Each division was assigned an admiral, who in turn commanded a vice-admiral and a rear admiral. In the 18th century, the original nine ranks began to be filled by more than one person at any one time. The admiral of the red was pre-eminent and became known as the admiral of the fleet.
The organisation of the British fleet into coloured squadrons was abandoned in 1864, although the Royal Navy kept the White Ensign. When the professional head of the Royal Navy was given the title of First Naval Lord in 1828 (renamed First Sea Lord in 1904), the rank of admiral of the fleet became an honorary promotion for retiring First Naval Lords allowing more than one admiral of the fleet to exist at one time.
Since 1811 five members of the British Royal family, other than the monarch, and four members of foreign royal families have been appointed admirals of the fleet. Of the British royalty granted the rank, only one, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) had not seen service in the Royal Navy.
During the two World Wars a number of serving officers held active commissions as admirals of the fleet, as well as the First Naval Lord. Following the creation of the Chief of the Defence Staff in 1959, the five naval officers appointed to that position became admirals of the fleet. Recognizing the reduced post–Cold War size of the British Armed Forces, no further appointments were made to the rank after 1995 when Sir Benjamin Bathurst was appointed admiral of the fleet on his retirement as First Sea Lord. However, the rank was not abolished and in 2012 the Prince of Wales became an honorary admiral of the fleet (as well as field marshal and marshal of the Royal Air Force), in recognition of his support to Queen Elizabeth II in her role of as Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. In 2014, Lord Boyce, a former First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff, was also appointed an honorary admiral of the fleet.
Admirals of the Fleet
|1690||Russell, EdwardEdward Russell (later Earl of Orford)||1652||1727|
|1696||Rooke, Sir GeorgeSir George Rooke||1650||1709||circa|
|13 January 1705||Shovell, Sir CloudesleySir Cloudesley Shovell||1650||1707|
|21 December 1708||Sir Stafford Fairborne||1666||1742||circa|
|14 March 1718||Sir George Byng (later Viscount Torrington)||1663||1733|
|20 February 1734||Sir John Norris||1670||1749|
|1 July 1749||Sir Chaloner Ogle||1681||1750|
|22 November 1751||James Steuart||1690||1757|
|March 1757||The Hon. George Clinton||1686||1761|
|30 July 1761||The Lord Anson||1697||1762|
|17 December 1762||Sir William Rowley||1690||1768||circa|
|15 January 1768||Sir Edward Hawke (later Lord Hawke)||1705||1781|
|24 October 1781||The Hon. John Forbes||1714||1796|
|12 March 1796||The Earl Howe||1726||1799|
|16 September 1799||Sir Peter Parker||1721||1811|
|24 December 1811||The Duke of Clarence and St Andrews (later King William IV)||1765||1837|
|29 January 1820||The Earl of St Vincent||1735||1823||acting from May 1814|
|28 June 1830||William Williams-Freeman||1742||1832|
|22 July 1830||The Lord Gambier||1756||1833|
|22 July 1830||Sir Charles Pole||1757||1830|
|24 April 1833||Sir Charles Nugent||1759||1844|
|8 January 1844||Sir James Hawkins-Whitshed||1762||1849|
|9 November 1846||Sir George Martin||1764||1847|
|13 October 1849||Sir Thomas Byam Martin||1773||1854|
|1 July 1851||Sir George Cockburn||1772||1853|
|8 December 1857||Sir Charles Ogle||1775||1858|
|25 June 1858||Sir John West||1774||1862|
|20 May 1862||Sir William Gage||1777||1864|
|10 November 1862||Sir Graham Hamond||1779||1862|
|27 April 1863||Sir Francis Austen||1774||1865|
|27 April 1863||Sir William Parker||1781||1866|
|11 January 1864||Sir Lucius Curtis||1786||1869|
|12 September 1865||Sir Thomas Cochrane||1789||1872|
|30 November 1866||Sir George Seymour||1787||1870|
|30 January 1868||Sir James Gordon||1782||1869||on the Retired List|
|15 January 1869||Sir William Bowles||1780||1869|
|3 July 1869||Sir George Sartorius||1790||1885|
|21 January 1870||Sir Fairfax Moresby||1786||1877|
|20 October 1872||Sir Houston Stewart||1791||1875|
|22 January 1877||Sir Henry Codrington||1808||1877|
|5 August 1877||Sir Henry Keppel||1809||1904|
|11 December 1877||Sir Provo Wallis||1791||1892|
|27 December 1877||The Earl of Lauderdale||1803||1878|
|27 December 1877||Sir George Mundy||1805||1884|
|15 June 1879||Sir James Hope||1808||1881|
|15 July 1879||Sir Thomas Symonds||1813||1894|
|10 June 1881||Sir Alexander Milne, Bt.||1806||1896||on the Retired List|
|1 December 1881||Sir Charles Elliot||1818||1895|
|29 April 1885||Sir Alfred Ryder||1820||1888|
|18 July 1887||The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII)||1841||1910||honorary to non-Navy royalty|
|1 May 1888||Sir Geoffrey Hornby||1825||1895|
|8 December 1888||Lord John Hay||1827||1916|
|2 August 1889||HIM German Emperor William II||1859||1941||honorary, to foreign royalty|
|13 February 1892||Sir John Commerell||1829||1901|
|3 June 1893||The Duke of Edinburgh (later Duke Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)||1844||1900|
|20 February 1895||The Earl of Clanwilliam||1832||1907|
|23 August 1897||Sir Algernon Lyons||1833||1908|
|29 November 1898||Sir Frederick Richards||1833||1912|
|13 January 1899||Sir Nowell Salmon||1835||1912|
|3 October 1902||Sir James Erskine||1838||1911|
|30 August 1903||Sir Charles Hotham||1843||1925|
|16 June 1904||Lord Walter Kerr||1839||1927|
|20 February 1905||Sir Edward Seymour||1840||1929|
|5 December 1905||Sir John Fisher (later Lord Fisher)||1841||1920|
|1 March 1907||Sir Arthur Wilson||1842||1921|
|11 June 1908||HIM Tsar Nicholas II of Russia||1868||1918||honorary, to foreign royalty|
|2 December 1908||Sir Gerard Noel||1845||1918|
|27 January 1910||Prince Heinrich of Prussia||1862||1929||honorary, to foreign royalty|
|30 April 1910||Sir Arthur Fanshawe||1847||1936|
|20 March 1913||Sir William May||1849||1930|
|5 March 1915||The Honourable Sir Hedworth Meux||1856||1929|
|2 April 1917||Sir George Callaghan||1852||1920|
|3 April 1919||The Viscount Jellicoe (later Earl Jellicoe)||1859||1935|
|3 April 1919||Sir David Beatty (later Earl Beatty)||1871||1936|
|31 July 1919||Sir Henry Jackson||1855||1929|
|1 November 1919||Sir Rosslyn Wemyss (later Lord Wester Wemyss)||1864||1933|
|24 November 1920||Sir Cecil Burney, Bt.||1858||1929|
|5 July 1921||Sir Doveton Sturdee, Bt.||1859||1925|
|22 August 1921||The Marquess of Milford Haven||1854||1921||on the Retired List|
|31 July 1924||Sir Charles Madden, Bt.||1862||1935|
|8 May 1925||The Honourable Sir Somerset Calthorpe||1864||1937|
|24 November 1925||Sir John de Robeck, Bt.||1862||1928|
|21 January 1928||Sir Henry Oliver||1865||1965|||
|31 July 1929||Sir Osmond Brock||1869||1947|||
|8 May 1930||Sir Roger Keyes, Bt. (later Lord Keyes)||1872||1945|||
|21 January 1933||Sir Frederick Field||1871||1945|||
|31 July 1934||Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt, Bt.||1870||1951|||
|8 May 1935||Sir Ernle Chatfield (later Lord Chatfield)||1873||1967|||
|21 January 1936||Edward VIIIKing||1894||1972|||
|12 July 1936||Sir John Kelly||1871||1936|||
|11 December 1936||George VIKing||1895||1952|||
|21 January 1938||The Earl of Cork and Orrery||1873||1967|||
|7 July 1939||Sir Roger Backhouse||1878||1939|||
|31 July 1939||Sir Dudley Pound||1877||1943|||
|8 May 1940||Sir Charles Forbes||1880||1960|||
|21 January 1943||Sir Andrew Cunningham (later Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope)||1883||1963|||
|22 October 1943||Sir John Tovey (later Lord Tovey)||1885||1971|||
|8 May 1945||Sir James Somerville||1882||1949|||
|21 January 1948||Sir John Cunningham||1885||1965|||
|22 October 1948||The Lord Fraser of North Cape||1888||1981|||
|20 March 1949||Sir Algernon Willis||1889||1976|||
|22 April 1952||Sir Arthur Power||1889||1960|||
|1 June 1952||Sir Philip Vian||1894||1968|||
|15 January 1953||The Duke of Edinburgh||1921||Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom 2011–|||
|1 May 1953||Sir Rhoderick McGrigor||1893||1959|||
|22 April 1955||Sir George Creasy||1895||1972|||
|22 October 1956||The Earl Mountbatten of Burma||1900||1979||Chief of the Defence Staff 1959–65|||
|10 May 1960||Sir Charles Lambe||1900||1960|||
|23 May 1962||Sir Caspar John||1903||1984|||
|12 August 1968||Sir Varyl Begg||1908||1995|||
|30 June 1970||Sir Michael Le Fanu||1913||1970|||
|12 March 1971||Sir Peter Hill-Norton (later Lord Hill-Norton)||1915||2004||First Sea Lord 1970–1971
Chief of the Defence Staff 1971–73
|1 March 1974||Sir Michael Pollock||1916||2006||First Sea Lord 1971–1974|||
|9 February 1977||Sir Edward Ashmore||1919||First Sea Lord 1977-1977
Chief of the Defence Staff 1977
|6 July 1979||Sir Terence Lewin (later Lord Lewin)||1920||1999||First Sea Lord 1977–1979
Chief of the Defence Staff 1979–82
|1 December 1982||Sir Henry Leach||1923||2011||First Sea Lord 1979–1982|||
|2 August 1985||Sir John Fieldhouse (later Lord Fieldhouse)||1928||1992||First Sea Lord 1982–1985
Chief of the Defence Staff 1985–88
|12 April 1988||King Olav V of Norway||1903||1991||honorary, to foreign royalty|||
|25 May 1989||Sir William Staveley||1928||1997||First Sea Lord 1985–1989|||
|2 March 1992||Sir Julian Oswald||1933||2011||First Sea Lord 1989–1993|||
|10 July 1995||Sir Benjamin Bathurst||1936||First Sea Lord 1993–1995|||
|16 June 2012||The Prince of Wales||1948||Honorary rank. Promoted 16 June 2012|||
|13 June 2014||Michael Boyce, Baron Boyce||1943||Honorary rank. Promoted 13 June 2014|||
- Prothero, David (3 December 2002). "United Kingdom: Royal Navy rank flags". Flags of the World. Archived from the original on 28 June 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2006.
- "Squadronal Colours of the Royal Navy". Royal Naval Museum. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- "2014 Birthday Honours for service personnel and defence civilians". Ministry of Defence. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 7 February 1928. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 6 August 1929. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 9 May 1930. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 24 January 1933. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 7 August 1934. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 10 May 1935. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Heathcote, p. 69
- The London Gazette: . 24 July 1936. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 99
- The London Gazette: . 25 January 1938. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 21
- The London Gazette: . 4 August 1939. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 14 May 1940. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 60
- The London Gazette: . 19 November 1943. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 233
- The London Gazette: . 17 February 1948. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Heathcote, p. 90
- The London Gazette: . 26 April 1949. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 13 June 1952. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 25 July 1952. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 210
- Heathcote, p. 162
- The London Gazette: . 24 May 1955. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 16 November 1956. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 7 June 1960. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 15 June 1962. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
- Heathcote, p. 29
- The London Gazette: . 26 June 1970. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 30 March 1971. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 4 March 1974. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 1 March 1977. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 16 July 1979. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 22 November 1982. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- Heathcote, p.78
- The London Gazette: . 12 April 1988. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
- Heathcote, p. 235
- Heathcote, p. 204
- Heathcote, p. 23
- The London Gazette: . 7 December 2012.
- "2014 Birthday Honours for service personnel and defence civilians". Ministry of Defence. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734–1995. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-835-6.
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