The origin of the custom of carrying Colours goes back to the days of early man, who fixed his family badge to a pole and held it aloft in battle for the dual purpose of indicating his position and acting as a rallying point should the occasion arise. Medieval chivalry followed the same idea when armorial bearings were placed on their banners so that these could be seen well above the melee. When armies were beginning to adopt a system of regimentation at the beginning of the 17th century each company was allotted a Colour with some regiments holding up to 17 Colours to mark the location of units, rallying points and individuals.
In 1688 Regiments of foot were authorised to carry three Colours - Sovereign's, Regimental and Colonel's. King George II in 1743 limited Infantry Regiments to two Colours - King's and Regimental. In 1824 the Colonel of the Queen's (2nd) Royal Regiment of Foot, Major General Sir Henry Torrens, KCB, successfully petitioned King George IV for the restoration of the Third Colour and a new Colour was presented with due ceremony to the Regiment on 31 January 1825 at Chatham. Ten years later King William IV decreed that no Regiment of Foot was to have three Colours but when he learnt of the distinction conferred upon the Regiment by his brother King George IV, he permitted the Regiment to retain its Third Colour on condition that it was never carried in the ranks. The practice of carrying the Colours into action continued until the beginning of 1881 during the Boer War in South Africa when the custom was discontinued because of the altered form of attack and increased range of musketry. However, the Queen's carried the Colour on parade in Hong Kong in 1922, after which the Commanding Officer was sacked!
The Tigers are honoured to hold the only true Third Colour. Some other Regiments have a third Colour for other historical reasons; The Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Guards have at least one State Colour.
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers: The 1st Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, which is the direct descendent of the 5th Regiment of Foot (Royal Northumberland Fusiliers), bears the Drummer's Colour awarded after the Battle of Wilhelmstahl.
The Yorkshire regiment: The 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's), as the linear descendent carries the honorary Queen's and Regimental Colours that were given to the 76th Regiment of Foot by the Honourable East India Company following their actionsat Delhi and Allyghur.
The Royal Highland Fusiliers: The Royal Highland Fusiliers(2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland) carries the Assaye Colour awarded as an honorary Colour to the 74th Regiment of Foot following the Battle of Assaye, which is paraded every year on Assaye day.
The colours are made of silk. The pikes are made of selected ash wood, stained and French polished. They are in single lengths, and are not jointed. The ferrule on top of the pike carries two brass rings suspended from either side. The Colours are fitted with a brass ring of the same size in the top corner nearest the pike. The cord has crimson and gold alternate strands and has a tassel at each end. It is doubled and has a keeper; the doubled end is passed through the ring on the Colour, and both rings on the pike, and the tasselled ends are then passed through the loop in the doubled end of the cord. The loop is then pulled tight and the tassels are allowed to hang freely.
Tassels around each Colour are crimson and gold on the Queen's Colour and crimson and royal blue on the Regimental Colour. A Royal Crest in gilt, 152.4cms high, is screwed into the top of each pattern of pike and is detachable.
The Sovereign's or Queen's Colour
The Field is The Great Union (Union Flag) upon which in the centre of the George Cross is the name of the Regiment within a circlet containing the number of the battalion in Roman numerals, surmounted by St Edward's crown. Forty-two Battle Honours from the Great War and the Second World War are emblazoned on the Sovereign's Colour.
Before the Great War, the Sovereign's Colour held no Battle Honours. After the War, due to the enormous sacrifices made and the vast amount of Battle Honours awarded it was permitted for Battle Honours to be embroidered onto the Colour. This continued after the Second World War. Battle Honours since 1945 return to the Regimental Colour.
The Regimental Colour
On a yellow field, the Regimental Badge within a circlet containing the name of the Regiment within a wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks above the cypher of Queen Catherine of Braganza, all above the Distinction of the Sphinx, surmounted with a scroll "Egypt", the whole surmounted by St Edward's crown.
The Queen's and the 50th (West Kent) took part in the successful landing at Aboukir Bay, near Alexandria, Egypt, in a joint operation in Egypt against Napoleons Army of the East. Cairo was occupied and the French expelled. The badge of the Sphinx was awarded as a Distinction to both Regiments. On either side of the Sphinx are the Regiment's two other Distinctions; the Naval Crown surmounted with the scroll "1 June 1794", which was awarded to the Queen's as a result of their role in the French Revolutionary War, celebrating the Queen's valour at the Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794". The Regiment continues to retain its relationship with the Royal Navy through its close links with HMS Excellent at Portsmouth and its affiliation with current warships. The final Distinction is that of the Royal or Bengal Tiger with the scroll "India" awarded to The 67th (South Hampshire) when they were ordered back to England after 23 years of service in India.
The field of the Regimental Colour is the same colour as the facing (field) colour of the Regiment except for those regiments which have a scarlet, white or black facing colour.. The Regiment takes its yellow from the Buffs, who took their names from their distinctive buff facings and the Royal Hampshires who maintained yellow facings even having been granted the honour of being made a Royal Regiment . The tassels on the edge of the Regimental Colours are alternate gold and blue for this reason.
The Regimental Badge is a composition of the badges of the two forebear regiments which in effect is the badge of The Queen's Regiment with the addition of a Hampshire Rose. The Dragon was awarded to the Buffs, in recognition of their Tudor origin. It was a rare distinction for a regiment to be so honoured in those days and is one of the earliest known regimental badges. Below the Tudor Dragon is the Hampshire Rose awarded to the Trained Bands of Hampshire who fought so gallantly for King Henry V at Agincourt in 1415. The surrounding device inscribed with the motto "Honi Soit Qui Mali Pense" (Shame on him who thinks evil of it) is a garter as awarded to the Knights of the Order of the Garter, England's oldest order of chivalry, founded by King Edward III in 1348. The feathers above the Tudor Dragon are the ostrich plumes worn by the Black Prince at the Battle of Crecy in 1346. The 15th Prince of Wales considered the East Middlesex Regiment to be deserving of his plumes for their exploits in India. The award was given the King's approval in 1810 and was subsequently included in the badge of The Middlesex Regiment and The Queen's Regiment.
The 2nd or Tangier Regiment of Foot had its first muster on Putney Heath on 14 October 1661. It was raised in order to garrison the Port of Tangier, which Charles II had acquired as part of his dowry when he married Catherine of Braganza, the Infanta of Portugal. The Queen's, named after Queen Catherine, remained in tangier for twenty -three years until the port was evacuated. The Regiment's first Battle Honour "Tangier 1662-1680" is the oldest in the British Army and is displayed on the Regimental Colour with Catherine's cypher. Traditionally the Colour is dressed so that the Battle Honour is visible where usually it would be displayed to show the Regimental Badge. This Battle Honour is shared only with The Royal Horse Guards Regiment, The Blues and Royals (1st Dragoon Guards). Interestingly Tangier was only conferred as a Battle Honour in 1909, 220 years after the action took place.
Where the number of battle Honours to be borne on a Regimental Colour exceeds nine, a large laurel wreath is introduced and the Battle Honour scrolls are placed on the branches of the wreath. The Regimental Colour holds 40 Battle Honours, Korea being the last to be awarded.
The Third Colour
The Third Colour is held by the 1st Battalion and is displayed in the Officers' Mess. It is plain sea green in colour (colour of the House of Braganza) and has two "C"s interlaced with gold, surrounded by a crown, the same design as that authorised in 1688. The present Colour was purchased in 1977 and was carried onto parade by Major (QM) LMB Wilson in 1977 for its blessing and was again paraded at the disbandment of 1st Battalion The Queen's Regiment on the Glorious First of June 1992 when it was carried by Major (QM) MG Bernier. This Colour is the sixth since 1825.
The Colour Belts
The Colour Belts are royal blue and emblazoned with the Battle Honours which appear on their respective Colour. They both show the Battle Honour badges of Catherine of Braganza, The Naval Crown 1st June 1794, The Sphinx, and the Tiger of India.
The stand has been inherited from the Queen's Regiment and still carries the capbadge of the Queen's Regiment.
In the upper left hand corner of the Colour is displayed the number of the battalion in Roman numerals.
Where the number of Battle Honours