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Monarch’s Colour

The first naval colour was presented to the Royal Navy in 1924 and the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in 1926. In 1924 King George V presented a special colour to the Royal Navy, for use on important occasions. This was known as The King’s Colour and since then each of the Royal Navies of the Commonwealth, has been graciously presented with a special colour, known as the King’s/Queen’s Colour, as appropriate.

On 9 July 1924 The Governor General of New Zealand, Admiral of the Fleet, Viscount Jellicoe, wrote to The Secretary of State for the Colonies to request His Majesty’s approval for a King’s Colour to be presented to the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. His Majesty King George V gave his approval and New Zealand accordingly expended £70 on the provision of the:

silk colour, embroidered with Royal Cypher and Crown, fitted on its ash staff and provided with metal badges, gold and blue cords, gold bullion fringes and tassels, leather case and white leather belt

The King’s Colour was taken on charge in HMS Dunedin on 31 December 1926 without ceremony. When not embarked it is kept in a special case in HMNZS Philomel. It is only removed with full ceremonial and there is a formal register kept detailing dates and places of embarkation/landing.  In 1936 King George VI presented a new King’s Colour which was delivered to the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy at Basin Reserve, Wellington on 22 November 1937 by Viscount Galway, the Governor General of New Zealand.

With the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, a new colour was presented to the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1953. Queen Elizabeth II presented her Queen’s Colour to the RNZN at HMNZS Philomel on 24 December 1953.  When the New Zealand White Ensign was officially adopted in 1968, a new colour was presented to the RNZN in 1970. This Queen’s Colour incorporating the New Zealand White Ensign with the Royal Cypher was presented to the RNZN at HMNZS Philomel on 24 March 1970 by Queen Elizabeth II.

On 23 September 1991 the Queen’s Colour was presented to the RNZN by Her Excellency Dame Catherine Tizard DCMG, at Queen’s Wharf, Wellington. The Queen’s Colours that were laid up are now located in the Chapel of St. Christopher located in HMNZS Philomel. They are placed on the southern wall (Seaward side).  The present Colour is held at the Philomel Quarterdeck in a case for its preservation and conservation.[1]

Flag Dimensions and details:

The Queen’s Colour of the RNZN is a double folded silk New Zealand White Ensign 1.17m x 0.94m with a Royal Crown and Cipher embodied, with gold and blue silk cords and gold tassels of 1.07m in length attached. The colour is carried on an ash staff 2.1m in length and 7.5cm in circumference which is surmounted by a gilt badge consisting of an Admiralty anchor on a 3 faces shield with a crown superimposed.[2]

Ceremonial Use:

The Queen’s Colour is paraded on Shore on the following occasions:

-By a guard of honour mounted for HM The Queen (or King) or other member of the Royal family

-By a guard mounted for a foreign sovereign or the president of a foreign republican State

-At parades to celebrate the birthday of HM.

-with the approval of the Chief of Navy on important ceremonial occasions

The Queen’s colour is not paraded onboard ships of the RNZN or in foreign territory. It is lowered only to HM The Queen and other members of the royal family, foreign sovereigns, Presidents of republican states, members of foreign reigning royal families, governor generals, governors, or special royal commissioners acting on behalf of the sovereign within their jurisdictions. The Queen’s Colour when uncased is to be received at all time with the highest respect with arms presented, officers saluting and the band playing the New Zealand national anthem.[3]

[1] Book of Reference 33 – RNZN Flag Ceremonial Procedures Manual, p. 18.

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid., p. 20.

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Customs & Traditions