British Army Colonel Commandant Appointments

What is a Colonel Commandant?

Colonel commandant is a military title used in the armed forces of some English-speaking countries. The title, not a substantive military rank, could denote a senior colonel with authority over fellow colonels. Today, the holder often has an honorary role outside the executive military structure, such as advocacy for the troops.

Background to UK Use

In the British Army, the term Colonel Commandant goes back at least to the American War of Independence, when it denoted an officer in command of a regiment.

In 1921, the Army abolished the appointment of Brigadier General (OF-6) and replaced it with the new appointments of:

  • Colonel Commandant who commanded brigades, depots, or training establishments.
  • Colonel on the Staff who held administrative appointments.

Like Brigadier General, both of the new appointments were temporary, the holder reverting to their substantive rank (usually Colonel, OF-5) at the end of their appointment. They were both abolished from 01 June 1928 and replaced by the appointment of Brigadier (OF-6) (though the rank insignia – a crown over three ‘pips’ or stars – remained the same). The Indian Army used the same appointments.

In the Royal Marines, the ranks of Colonel Commandant and Colonel 2nd Commandant dated back to 1755, when fifty companies of marines were raised in three divisions: each division had a Colonel Commandant and a Colonel 2nd Commandant. These ranked below Major General (OF-7) and above Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4); a Colonel 2nd Commandant ranked with a Royal Navy Captain (OF-5) or an Army Colonel (OF-5), while a Colonel commandant Ranked with a Commodore (OF-6) or a Brigadier General. The Royal Marines adopted the appointment of Brigadier General to be held by its Colonels Commandant (then five in number) in 1913, and dispensed with it again in 1921. Like the Army, the Royal Marines adopted the appointment of Brigadier (OF-6) in 1928, but the ranks of Colonel Commandant and Colonel 2nd Commandant persisted at least as far as World War II. By 1957, however, they had been abolished and replaced with Brigadier (now a rank instead of an appointment, as in the Army) and Colonel.

The title of Colonel Commandant is now used as an honorary or ceremonial title relating to a military corps. For example, General Sir Richard Dannatt was Colonel-Commandant of the Army Air Corps as well as his full-time role as Chief of the General Staff and Brigadier Jane Arigho, a retired Director of Army Nursing Services, was the Colonel-Commandant of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

Below is a list of:

  • Colonels and Colonels Commandant.
  • Representative Colonels Commandants.
  • Honorary Colonels Commandant.
  • Honorary Colonels Army Reserve Units.

Colonels and Colonels Commandant

  1. The Life Guards (Colonel) [Note 1].
  2. The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) (Colonel) [Note 1].
  3. 3 Household Cavalry (Lieutenant Colonel Commanding)
  4. 4 Royal Armoured Corps (Colonel Commandant).
  5. 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (Colonel).
  6. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Colonel).
  7. The Royal Dragoon Guards (Colonel).
  8. The Queen’s Royal Hussars (Colonel).
  9. The Royal Lancers (Colonel).
  10. The King’s Royal Hussars (Colonel).
  11. The Light Dragoons (Colonel).
  12. Royal Tank Regiment (Colonel Commandant).
  13. Royal Tank Regiment (Deputy Colonel Commandant); 2 appointments.
  14. Master Gunner St James’s Park.
  15. Royal Regiment of Artillery (Colonel Commandant); 11 appointments.
  16. Chief Royal Engineer & Colonel Commandant (Both appointments to be held concurrently).
  17. Corps of Royal Engineers (Colonel Commandant); 11 appointments.
  18. Master of Signals & Colonel Commandant (Both appointments to be held concurrently).
  19. Royal Corps of Signals (Colonel Commandant); 7 appointments.
  20. Infantry Colonel Commandant.
  21. Grenadier Guards (Colonel).
  22. Grenadier Guards (Regimental Lieutenant Colonel).
  23. Coldstream Guards (Colonel).
  24. Coldstream Guards (Regimental Lieutenant Colonel).
  25. Scots Guards (Colonel).
  26. Scots Guards (Regimental Lieutenant Colonel).
  27. Irish Guards (Colonel).
  28. Irish Guards (Regimental Lieutenant Colonel).
  29. Welsh Guards (Colonel).
  30. Welsh Guards (Regimental Lieutenant Colonel).
  31. Welsh Guards (Deputy Regimental Lieutenant Colonel) (Informal Appointment).
  32. The Queen’s Division (Colonel Commandant).
  33. The King’s Division (Colonel Commandant).
  34. The Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division (Colonel Commandant).
  35. The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Colonel).
  36. The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Deputy Colonel); 5 appointments.
  37. The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Colonel).
  38. The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Deputy Colonel); 3 appointments.
  39. The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (Colonel).
  40. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Colonel).
  41. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Deputy Colonel); 4 appointments.
  42. The Royal Anglian Regiment (Colonel).
  43. The Royal Anglian Regiment (Deputy Colonel); 3 appointments.
  44. The Yorkshire Regiment (Colonel).
  45. The Mercian Regiment (Colonel).
  46. The Mercian Regiment (Deputy Colonel).
  47. The Royal Welsh (Colonel).
  48. The Royal Irish Regiment (Colonel).
  49. The Royal Irish Regiment (Deputy Colonel).
  50. The Parachute Regiment (Colonel Commandant).
  51. The Parachute Regiment (Deputy Colonel Commandant); 2 appointments.
  52. The Rifles (Colonel Commandant).
  53. The Rifles (Assistant Colonel Commandant); 2 appointments.
  54. The Rifles (Deputy Colonel); 5 appointments.
  55. The Royal Logistic Corps (Colonel Commandant); 11 appointments.
  56. Master General Army Medical Services.
  57. Royal Army Medical Corps (Colonel Commandant); 4 appointments.
  58. Master General Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
  59. Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Colonel Commandant); 7 appointments.
  60. Adjutant General’s Corps (Colonel Commandant).
  61. Adjutant General’s Corps (Assistant Colonel Commandant); 5 appointments.
  62. Royal Army Veterinary Corps (Colonel Commandant).
  63. Small Arms School Corps (Colonel Commandant).
  64. Royal Army Dental Corps (Colonel Commandant); 2 appointments.
  65. Intelligence Corps (Colonel Commandant).
  66. Intelligence Corps (Deputy Colonel Commandant) (Informal Appointment).
  67. Royal Army Physical Training Corps (Colonel Commandant).
  68. Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (Colonel Commandant); 2 appointments.
  69. Corps of Army Music (Colonel Commandant).

Representative Colonel Commandants

  1. Royal Regiment of Artillery (Representative Colonel Commandant).
  2. Corps of Royal Engineers (Representative Colonel Commandant).
  3. Royal Corps of Signals (Representative Colonel Commandant).
  4. Royal Army Medical Corps (Representative Colonel Commandant).
  5. Royal Army Dental Corps (Representative Colonel Commandant).

Honorary Colonels Commandant

  1. Royal Regiment of Artillery (Honorary Colonel Commandant); 3 appointments.
  2. The Royal Logistics Corps (Honorary Colonel Commandant).
  3. Royal Army Veterinary Corps (Honorary Colonel Commandant).
  4. Royal Army Dental Corps (Honorary Colonel Commandant).

Honorary Colonels Army Reserve Units

  1. Yeomanry RAC Army Reserve (Colonel Commandant).
  2. The Royal Yeomanry Army Reserve (Royal Honorary Colonel) [Note 1].
  3. The Royal Yeomanry Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  4. The Royal Wessex Yeomanry Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  5. The Queen’s Own Yeomanry Army Reserve (Royal Honorary Colonel) [Note 1].
  6. The Queen’s Own Yeomanry Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  7. The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  8. Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment (Honorary Colonel).
  9. The Honourable Artillery Company Army Reserve (Colonel Commandant).
  10. The Honourable Artillery Company Army Reserve (Royal Honorary Colonel) [Note 1].
  11. The Honourable Artillery Company Army Reserve (Regimental Colonel).
  12. 101 Regiment RA Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  13. 103 Regiment RA Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  14. 104 Regiment RA Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  15. 105 Regiment RA Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  16. 106 Regiment RA Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  17. National Reserve Headquarters Royal Artillery (Honorary Colonel).
  18. Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) (Royal Honorary Colonel) [Note 1].
  19. Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) (Honorary Colonel).
  20. 71 Engineer Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  21. 75 Engineer Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  22. 101 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  23. 131 Independent Commando Squadron RE Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  24. 135 Geographic Squadron RE Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  25. Jersey Field Squadron RE (Militia) (Honorary Colonel).
  26. 170 Engineer Group Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  27. Engineer and Logistic Staff Corps RE Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  28. 32 Signal Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  29. 37 Signal Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  30. 39 Signal Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  31. 71 Signal Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  32. 63 (SAS) Signal Squadron Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  33. 81 Signal Squadron Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  34. 254 Signal Squadron Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  35. 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  36. 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  37. 3rd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  38. 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  39. 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  40. 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  41. 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  42. 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  43. 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  44. 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  45. 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  46. 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  47. The London Scottish Army Reserve (Honorary Regimental Colonel).
  48. The London Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel) [Note 1].
  49. The London Regiment Army Reserve (Regimental Lieutenant Colonel); 4 appointments.
  50. 21 Special Air Service Regiment (Artists) (MOD LEIGHTON HOUSE) Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  51. 23 Special Air Service Regiment (MOD KINGSTANDING) Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  52. 6 Regiment AAC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  53. 150 Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  54. 151 Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  55. 152 (North Irish) Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  56. 154 Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  57. 156 Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  58. 157 (Welsh) Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  59. 158 Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  60. 159 Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  61. 162 Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  62. 165 Port & Maritime Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  63. 167 Catering Support Regiment RLC Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  64. 201 (Northern) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  65. 202 (Midlands) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  66. 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  67. 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  68. 205 (Scottish) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  69. 207 (Manchester) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  70. 208 (Liverpool) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  71. 212 (Yorkshire) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  72. 243 (Wessex) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  73. 256 (City of London) Field Hospital Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  74. 225 (Scottish) Medical Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  75. 253 (North Irish) Medical Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  76. 254 (East of England) Medical Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  77. 306 Hospital Support Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  78. 335 Medical Evacuation Regiment Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  79. 144 Parachute Medical Squadron Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  80. Medical Operational Support Group Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  81. 101 Battalion REME Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  82. 102 Battalion REME Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  83. 103 Battalion REME Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  84. 106 Battalion REME Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  85. Royal Military Police Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  86. Military Provost Staff Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  87. 3 Military Intelligence Battalion Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  88. 5 Military Intelligence Battalion Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  89. 7 Military Intelligence Battalion Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  90. Specialist Group Military Intelligence Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  91. Joint Service Signal Unit Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  92. Defence HUMINT Unit (Honorary Colonel).
  93. Aberdeen University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  94. Birmingham University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  95. Bristol University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  96. Cambridge University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  97. East Midlands Universities OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  98. City of Edinburgh Universities OTC (Royal Honorary Colonel) [Note 1].
  99. City of Edinburgh Universities OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  100. Exeter University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  101. Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  102. Leeds University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  103. Liverpool University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  104. University of London OTC (Royal Honorary Colonel) [Note 1].
  105. University of London OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  106. Manchester and Salford Universities OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  107. Northumbrian Universities OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  108. Oxford University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  109. Queen’s University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  110. University of Sheffield OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  111. Southampton University OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  112. Tayforth Universities OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  113. University of Wales OTC (Honorary Colonel).
  114. Number 5 Column 77 Brigade Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel Commandant).
  115. Information Activities Group 77 Brigade Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  116. Outreach Group 77 Brigade Army Reserve (Honorary Colonel).
  117. The Gibraltar Regiment (Honorary Colonel).
  118. Honorary Catering Adviser to Defence.
  119. Honorary Ordnance Officer Tower of London.

Notes

  1. Appointment held at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
  2. Representative Colonels Commandant appointments may be held by:
    1. Senior members of the Royal Family.
    2. Serving Army officers with the rank of Colonel or above.
    3. Retired Army officers who held the rank of Colonel or above.
  3. Representative Colonels Commandant appointments may be held by:
    1. Serving Army officers with the rank of Colonel or above.
    2. Retired Army officers who held the rank of Colonel or above.
  4. Honorary Colonels Commandant appointments may be held by:
    1. Serving Army officers with the rank of Colonel or above.
    2. Retired Army officers who held the rank of Colonel or above.
  5. Honorary Colonels Army Reserve Units appointments may be held by:
    1. Senior members of the Royal Family;
    2. Serving Army officers;
    3. Retired Army officers;
    4. Civilians, such as Dame Kelly Holmes.

References

FOI 2019/09369 dated 23 August 2019.

FOI 2017/06098 dated 25 July 2017.

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