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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.

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 It was superseded by the rank of group captain on the following day.

Ceremonial ranks

In the British Army, Colonel may also refer to the ceremonial head of a regiment. This is almost always a general officer or Brigadier, 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.[citation needed] 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".[citation needed]

Colonel-in-Chief is also a ceremonial title of the British Army and various Commonwealth armies. 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.[citation needed]

"Colonel of Marines" was once an honor 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.[1]

See also


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