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24 September 2014

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What is the Queen's Colour?
Queen's Colour
The Queen's Colour: more than just a flag
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The Queen's Colour is no ordinary flag.

It's an important symbol of respect to a military service or regiment which represents heroic deeds and battle honours.

Photo gallery from the Colour ceremony

Archive gallery from 1969 Colour ceremony

Watch video highlights of The Queen's visit to Plymouth here on demand.
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Did you watch the ceremony - we want to hear your view

Look back at the last Fleet Colour ceremony in 1969

Royal Marine's Colours Ceremony 2001

Watch the fleet on the Plymouth webcam

A 21-gun salute will be sounded when The Queen arrives on board HMS Ocean at around 10.40am.

The Colour presentation will take place between 10.40am and 11.20am.

The presentation be relayed to the public via a giant screen on The Hoe.

The Queen will watch a sail past of Royal Navy ships starting at 11.20am followed by a fly-past.

After lunch The Queen will return to Plymouth Hoe before moving to the Royal Citadel for the Ceremony of the Keys.

Later in the afternoon she is scheduled to rename the new Plymouth lifeboat at Queen Anne's Battery.

The Royal Navy

Plymouth City Council
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There have only been two previous Fleet Colour presentations. The first, was presented by King George V in 1926 and the second, by Queen Elizabeth in 1969.

The West Country and the Royal Navy go back a long way. The ships that defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 sailed from the mouth of the River Plym.

As long ago as 1691, a major naval dockyard was established in the River Tamar at Plymouth.

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The Queen's colour is a double folded silk White Ensign on which a crown and Royal Cypher have been embroidered.

It measures precisely 44 inches by 36 inches and has a gold and blue silk cord and gold tassels.

The size and design is standard for all Queen's Colours presented to the Royal Navy.

The Colour is carried on an ash staff seven feet in length and three inches in circumference with a gilt badge on top.

Queen's Colour Ceremony
Photo gallery

The origin of the custom of carrying the colours goes back to the days of early man - who fixed his family badge to a pole and held it aloft in battle.

This served a dual purpose - both indicating his position and acting as a rallying point should the occasion arise.

New  Colour for the Royal Marines in 2001
New Colours for the Royal Marines in 2001
Medieval chivalry followed the same idea when armorial bearings were placed on their banners so these could be seen above a melee.

Armies began to adopt a system of regimentation at the beginning of the 17th Century and each company was allocated a colour.

Colours have become the symbol of the spirit of a service or regiment.

In the Royal Marines and the Army the they bear the battle honours of a regiment and commemorate the gallant deeds performed by its members.

To maintain suitable respect the Colour is consecrated before being taken into use and is laid up in a sacred or public place when its period of service ends.

More on the last Colour ceremony in 1969
photo archive

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