Colonel (United Kingdom)
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Colonel is a rank of the British forces, ranking below brigadier, and above lieutenant colonel. British colonels are not usually field commanders; typically they serve as staff officers between field commands at battalion and brigade level. The insignia is two diamond shaped pips (properly called "Bath Stars") below a crown. The crown has varied in the past with different monarchs; the current Queen's reign has used St Edward's Crown.
During World War I, colonels wore the following cuff badges:
Royal Air Force
From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force maintained the rank of colonel. It was superseded by the rank of group captain on the following day.
In the British Army, colonel may also refer to the ceremonial head of a regiment. This is almost always a general officer, brigadier or colonel, often retired, with a close link to the regiment in question. Some non-military personnel may be appointed to the position, thereby holding an honorary rank of colonel for the duration of the appointment, though usually with the Territorial Army units.
The position is often described as "Colonel of the Regiment", to distinguish it from the rank of colonel. When attending functions as "Colonel of the Regiment", the officer wears the rank insignia of (full) colonel, regardless of their official rank. This position may also be held by a member of the Royal Family, who is then known as a "Royal Colonel".
Colonel-in-Chief is also a ceremonial title of the British Army. It is usually held by a member of the Royal Family. The Colonel of the Regiment often has a closer involvement with the regiment and its Regimental Association than does the Colonel-in-Chief, as she/he has usually had direct military involvement, unlike the members of the Royal Family.
"Colonel of Marines" was once an honour bestowed upon Royal Navy post-captains as a reward for highly distinguished service. This was a salaried sinecure position with no additional obligations outside the captain's normal naval duties. He would lose this title and its additional pay upon reaching flag rank. Horatio Nelson was given such a colonelcy in 1795, two years before he reached flag rank.
In the 17th century the colonel of a regiment was, as well as its commander in action, the person who had raised it for service. He was responsible for equipping it, paying the men and selecting officers. Until the 1750s the regiment would be commonly known by his name, e.g. Churchill's Dragoons.
When the standing army developed towards the end of that period those arrangements and responsibilities changed and governments provided pay and the cost of clothing and equipment for the men. A lieutenant-colonel commanded the regiment in battle and colonelcies became honorary appointments for distinguished generals or members of the royal family. By the end of the 18th century an individual could hold only one colonelcy.
Until the mid 19th century, colonels were paid and being responsible for spending the government funding on equipment etc. could also hope to make a profit on the funds allocated for those purposes. Generals were mostly on half-pay and a colonelcy was a method of providing him with extra income. However it should be known that many colonels spent large sums of their own money on their regiments. 19th century reforms also took away the colonel's involvement in selection of officers.
From the Italian colonello or French coronel from their word for column (or pillar), the leader of the column at the head of the regiment.
- British and U.S. military ranks compared
- British Army Other Ranks rank insignia
- British Army officer rank insignia
- Colonel (title)
- The life of Nelson: the embodiment of the sea power of Great Britain, Volume 1 - Alfred Thayer Mahan, 1897
- George Usher, Dictionary of British Military History, A & C Black, London 2006 ISBN 978 0 7136 7507 8
|Commissioned officer ranks of the British Armed Forces|
|NATO rank code||Student Officer||OF-1||OF-2||OF-3||OF-4||OF-5||OF-6
|Royal Navy||O Cdt||Mid||SLt||Lt||Lt Cdr||Cdr||Capt||Cdre||RAdm
|Adm of the Fleet|
|Royal Marines||2Lt||Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig||Maj-Gen||Lt-Gen||Gen
|Army||O Cdt||2Lt||Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig||Maj-Gen
|Royal Air Force||OC / SO||APO / Plt Off||Fg Off||Flt Lt||Sqn Ldr||Wg Cdr||Gp Capt||Air Cdre||AVM||Air Mshl||Air Chf Mshl