Royal Navy Ships' Badges

Wooden ships of the Royal Navy had elaborate figureheads often reflecting the name of the vessel. Steel warships did not have figureheads and a need for ships' badges arose. Initially these were unregulated designs. During the First World War the Commanding Officer of the new destroyer H.M.S. Tower asked Major C.J. ffoulkes (1868-1947), then Curator and subsequently Master of the Tower Armouries to design a badge. He was subsequently requested to design others and the Admiralty Board set up a Ships' Badges Committee in 1918 to regulate ships' badges with Major ffoulkes as the first Adviser on Heraldry.

Since 1934 when Sir Arthur Cochrane (1872-1954), Clarenceux King of Arms was appointed Adviser on Naval Heraldry in succession to Major ffoulkes the post has been held by an Officer of the College of Arms. The responsibility of the Adviser is to produce designs for naval badges which are of different shapes depending on the type of ship or naval establishment.


The records of ships' badges are not kept at the College of Arms and enquiries should be addressed to:

Miss J M Wraight, Secretary, Ships' Names and Badges Committee
Admiralty Library
Naval Historical Branch (Naval Staff)
Ministry of Defence
Number 24 Store
Main Road
HM Naval Base Portsmouth

Telephone number: 023 9272 5297

Inspector of Regimental Colours

The office of Inspector of Regimental Colours was instituted in 1806 in order to regulate the design of the various Colours, Guidons, and Standards of the Army. Regulations for these had been laid down in 1768, but were widely ignored and designs left to the whim of individual Colonels. The first Inspector was Sir George Nayler (1764-1831), York Herald, later Garter King of Arms.

Since that time the office of Inspector has normally been held by Garter King of Arms. As the Army's heraldic adviser he is responsible for approving all new designs for Colours, Guidons, Standards, Cap Badges, Defence Agencies etc. The artwork for all new designs is prepared at the College of Arms by a heraldic artist, signed by the Inspector, and then submitted to The King, via. the Ministry of Defence, for formal approval. Once The King has signed the painting, it is returned to the College for safe keeping.


Enquiries to the Inspectorate of Regimental Colours should be addressed to the Officer in Waiting in the first instance.

Inspector of Royal Air Force Badges

The first Inspector of Royal Air Force Badges was Sir John Heaton-Armstrong (1888-1967), who was appointed in 1935 when he was Chester Herald. The post has always been held by an Officer of the College of Arms. The Inspector provides advice to the Royal Air Force and others on all heraldic matters.

When a new Badge is granted the original painting signed by The King is retained by the Royal Air Force; but a record is kept by the Inspector who may be able to answer queries relating to official Badges for Squadrons, Stations and other RAF units.


Enquiries to the Inspectorate of Royal Air Force Badges should be addressed to the Officer in Waiting in the first instance.

Routine enquiries should be addressed directly to:

RAF Ceremonial Office
RAF Northolt
West End Road

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