Admiral (Royal Navy)

Admiral is a senior rank of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, which equates to the NATO rank code OF-9, outranked only by the rank of admiral of the fleet. Royal Navy officers holding the ranks of rear admiral, vice admiral and admiral of the fleet are sometimes considered generically to be admirals. The rank of admiral is currently the highest rank to which a serving officer in the Royal Navy can be promoted, admiral of the fleet being in abeyance except for honorary promotions of retired officers and members of the Royal Family.

Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy
Flag of an admiral, Royal Navy.
British Royal Navy OF-9-collected
Insignia shoulder board and Sleeve lace for Admiral
Country United Kingdom
Service branch
NATO rankOF-9
Non-NATO rank9
Next higher rankAdmiral of the Fleet
Next lower rankVice admiral
Equivalent ranksGeneral, United Kingdom


The first admirals (1224 to 1523)

King Henry III of England appointed the first known English Admiral Sir Richard de Lucy on 29 August 1224.[1] De Lucy was followed by Sir Thomas Moulton in 1264,[1] who also held the title of Keeper of the Sea and Sea Ports. Moulton was succeeded by Sir William de Leybourne, (the son of Sir Roger de Leybourne) as Admiral of the Sea of the King of England. In 1286 he was appointed Admiral of the Navy, [2] holding the rank of admiral until 1294[1] and serving under King Edward I of England. As the English Navy was expanding towards the end of the thirteenth century, new appointments of admirals with specific administrative and geographic responsibilities were created. Sir John de Botetourt was appointed Admiral of the North in 1294. This position existed until 1412.[1] Also in 1294, the king appointed Sir William de Laybourne to the dual commands of Admiral of the South, (1294-1412) and Admiral of the West, (1294-1412). The first royal commission as Admiral to a naval officer was granted in 1303 to Gervase Alard.[3] By 1344 it was only used as a rank at sea for a captain in charge of a fleet or fleets.[4] In 1364 the office of Admiral of the North and West was created until 1414.[1] Beginning in 1408 these admirals' responsibilities were gradually absorbed by the office of the High Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine (later Lord Admiral of England) leading to a centralized command by 1414. In 1412 the Admiral of the Narrow Seas was established briefly until 1413. It was revived on a more permanent basis from 1523, until lapsing again in 1688.

Squadron admirals of the colour from 1558 to 1603

In Elizabethan times the fleet grew large enough to be organised into squadrons. The squadron's admiral flew a red ensign, the vice admirals white, and the rear admirals blue on the aft mast of his ship. As the squadrons grew, each was eventually commanded by an admiral (with vice admirals and rear admirals commanding sections) and the official ranks became admiral of the white and so forth, however each admirals command flags were different and changed over time.[5]

Introduction of vice and rear admirals

The Royal Navy has had vice and rear admirals regularly appointed to the post since at least the 16th century. When in command of the fleet, the admiral would be in either the lead or the middle portion of the fleet. When the admiral commanded from the middle portion of the fleet his deputy, the vice admiral, would be in the leading portion or van. Below him was another admiral at the rear of the fleet, called rear admiral.[6]

Promotion path of flag officers from 1702 to 1864

Promotion up the ladder was in accordance with seniority in the rank of post-captain, and rank was held for life, so the only way to be promoted was for the person above on the list to die or resign. In 1747 the Admiralty restored an element of merit selection to this process by introducing the concept of yellow admirals (formally known as granting an officer the position of 'Rear-Admiral without distinction of squadron'), being captains promoted to flag rank on the understanding that they would immediately retire on half-pay.[7][8] This was the navy's first attempt at superannuating older officers.[9] They were often assigned to shore-based administrative roles, such as commander of a port or commissioner of one of the Royal Dockyards.

Interregnum to the present

During the Interregnum, the rank of admiral was replaced by that of general at sea. In the 18th century, the original nine ranks began to be filled by more than one man per rank, although the rank of admiral of the red was always filled by only one man and was known as Admiral of the Fleet. After the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 the rank of admiral of the red was introduced.[10] The number of officers holding each rank steadily increased throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1769 there were 29 admirals of various grades; by the close of the Napoleonic Wars in 1816 there were 190 admirals in service. Thereafter the number of admirals was reduced and in 1853 there were 79 admirals.

Although admirals were promoted according to strict seniority, appointments to command were made at the discretion of the Board of Admiralty. As there were invariably more admirals in service than there were postings, many admirals remained unemployed, especially in peacetime.

The organisation of the fleet into coloured squadrons was finally abandoned in 1864. The Red Ensign was allocated to the Merchant Navy, the White Ensign became the flag of the Royal Navy, and the Blue Ensign was allocated to the naval reserve and naval auxiliary vessels.

The 18th- and 19th-century Royal Navy also maintained a positional rank known as port admiral. A port admiral was typically a veteran captain who served as the shore commander of a British naval port and was in charge of supplying, refitting, and maintaining the ships docked at harbour.

The problem of promoting strictly by seniority was well illustrated by the case of Provo Wallis who served (including time being carried on the books while still a child) for 96 years. When he died in 1892 four admirals under him could immediately be promoted.[11] By request of Queen Victoria, John Edmund Commerell became Admiral of the Fleet rather than Algernon Frederick Rous de Horsey, who as senior active admiral nearing the age limit would customarily have received the promotion; John Baird became an Admiral; James Erskine a vice-admiral; and Harry Rawson a rear-admiral. Ironically, all these younger men would die at least a decade before de Horsey. In the time before squadron distinctions were removed or age limits instituted, the death of James Hawkins-Whitshed resulted in ten men moving up to higher ranks.[12]

In 1996, the rank of admiral of the fleet was put in abeyance in peacetime, except for members of the Royal family but was resurrected on an honorary basis in 2014 for the appointment of Lord Boyce. Admirals of the fleet continue to hold their rank on the active list for life.

Rank insignia and personal flag

The current ranks are rear admiral, vice admiral, admiral and admiral of the fleet, also known as flag ranks because admirals, known as flag officers, are entitled to fly a personal flag. An admiral of the fleet flies a Union Flag at the masthead, while an admiral flies a St George's cross (red cross on white). Vice admirals and rear admirals fly a St George's cross with one or two red discs in the hoist, respectively.

The rank of admiral itself is shown in its sleeve lace by a broad band with three narrower bands. In 2001 the number of stars on the shoulder board was increased to four, reflecting the equivalence to the OF-9 four-star ranks of other countries.[13][14]

Sleeve lace

Shoulder board

Shoulder board prior to 2001

World War II Royal Navy admiral's shoulder board

World War II admiral's shoulder board

Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy

Command flag for an admiral from 1864.

History command flags

Prior to 1864 the Royal Navy was divided into coloured squadrons which determined his career path. The command flags flown by an Admiral changed a number of times during this period, there was no Admiral of the Red rank until that post was introduced in 1805 prior to this the highest rank an admiral could attain to was Admiral of the White who then flew the Cross of St George. The next promotion step up from that was to Admiral of the Fleet.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Houbraken, Jacobus; Thoyras, Paul de Rapin; Vertue, George (1747). The History of England, A List of Admirals of England, 1228-1745. J. and P. Knapton. p. 270.
  2. ^ "THE BEGINNINGS OF ENGLISH MARITIME ENTERPRISE". History. 13 (50): 97–106. 1928. doi:10.2307/24400638. JSTOR 24400638.
  3. ^ "History of Naval Ranks and Rates". National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  4. ^ "History of Naval Ranks and Rates". National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Information sheet no 055: Squadron Colours" (PDF). The National Museum Royal Navy. 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  6. ^ "History of Naval Ranks and Rates". National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  7. ^ Millar, Stephen (2008). "Promotion in the flag ranks of the Royal Navy During the Napoleonic Wars". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  8. ^ Rodger 1986, p.299
  9. ^ N.A.M. Rodger (2004) The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-11815 London, Allen Lane, 325-6
  10. ^ < Promotion in the Flag Ranks in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars>
  11. ^ Old Salt Indeed: The Amazing Career of Lieutenant Provo Wallis of HMS Shannon
  12. ^ London Gazette, "The following promotions have taken place, dated the 30th ultimo, consequent on the death of Admiral of the Fleet, Sir James Hawkins Whitshed..."
  13. ^ Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine – Uniforms and Badges of Rank: Admiral
  14. ^ Admiral is a four-star rank in NATO, Commonwealth and, since 2001, the Royal Navy (Refer UK DCI (Joint Service) 125/2001).
  15. ^ Perrin, W. G. (William Gordon) (1922). "IV:Flags of Command". British flags, their early history, and their development at sea; with an account of the origin of the flag as a national device. Cambridge, England: Cambridge : The University Press. pp. 73–109.


  • Archives, National The. (2017). "Trafalgar Ancestors, Glossary". National Archives. London. England
  • Bothwell, James (2004). Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility, and Political Control in Fourteenth-century England. Boydell Press. ISBN 9781843830474.
  • Houbraken, Jacobus. Thoyras, Paul de Rapin. Vertue, George. (1747). The History of England, A List of Admirals of England (1224-1745). England. Kanpton. P and J.
  • Perrin, W. G. (William Gordon) (1922). "IV:Flags of Command". British flags, their early history, and their development at sea; with an account of the origin of the flag as a national device. Cambridge, England: Cambridge : The University Press.

External links


Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM". The rank is generally thought to have originated in Sicily from a conflation of Arabic: أمير البحر‎, amīr al-baḥr, "commander of the sea", with Latin admirabilis ("admirable") or admiratus ("admired"), although alternative etymologies derive the word directly from Latin, or from the Turkish military and naval rank miralay. The French version – amiral without the additional d – tends to add evidence for the Arab origin.

In the Commonwealth and the U.S., a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general in the army, and is above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet (or fleet admiral). In NATO, admirals have a rank code of OF-9 as a four-star rank.

Berkeley Square

Berkeley Square is a town square in Mayfair in the West End of London, in the City of Westminster. It was originally laid out in the mid 18th century by architect William Kent.

The gardens in the centre are open to the public, and their very large London Plane trees are among the oldest in central London, planted in 1789. One of the trees in the south east corner has been designated a Great Tree of London.

Bickford (surname)

Bickford is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Andrew Bickford (1844-1927), Admiral, Royal Navy; Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station

Bruce Bickford (animator) (born 1947), American animated-films maker

Bruce Bickford (athlete) (born 1957), American long distance runner

Charles Bickford (1891–1967), American actor

George Bickford (1927–2009), Australian rules footballer

James Bickford (1912–1989), American olympic bobsledder

John F. Bickford (1843–1927), received the Medal of Honor for actions during the American Civil War

Matthew Bickford (1839–1918), received the Medal of Honor for actions during the American Civil War

Vern Bickford (1920–1960), American baseball pitcher

William Bickford (1774–1834), inventor of the safety fuse

William Bickford (1815–1850), first pharmacist and pharmaceutical chemist in the colony of South Australia

William Bickford (1841–1916), turned A.M. Bickford & Sons into a major drug company and successful soft-drink manufacturer

General (United Kingdom)

General (or full general to distinguish it from the lower general officer ranks) is the highest rank currently achievable by serving officers of the British Army. The rank can also be held by Royal Marines officers in tri-service posts, for example, General Sir Gordon Messenger the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. It ranks above lieutenant-general and, in the Army, is subordinate to the rank of field marshal, which is now only awarded as an honorary rank. The rank of general has a NATO-code of OF-9, and is a four-star rank. It is equivalent to a full admiral in the Royal Navy or an air chief marshal in the Royal Air Force.

Officers holding the ranks of lieutenant-general and major-general may be generically considered to be generals.

George V

George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936.

Born during the reign of his grandmother Queen Victoria, George was third in the line of succession behind his father, Prince Albert Edward, and his own elder brother, Prince Albert Victor. From 1877 to 1891, George served in the Royal Navy, until the unexpected death of his elder brother in early 1892 put him directly in line for the throne. On the death of his grandmother in 1901, George's father ascended the throne as Edward VII, and George was created Prince of Wales. He became king-emperor on his father's death in 1910.

George V's reign saw the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism, and the Indian independence movement, all of which radically changed the political landscape. The Parliament Act 1911 established the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons over the unelected House of Lords. As a result of the First World War (1914–1918), the empires of his first cousins Nicholas II of Russia and Wilhelm II of Germany fell, while the British Empire expanded to its greatest effective extent. In 1917, George became the first monarch of the House of Windsor, which he renamed from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as a result of anti-German public sentiment. In 1924 he appointed the first Labour ministry and in 1931 the Statute of Westminster recognised the dominions of the Empire as separate, independent states within the Commonwealth of Nations. He had smoking-related health problems throughout much of his later reign and at his death was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward VIII.

Hopwood (surname)

Hopwood is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Avery Hopwood, Depression era playwright

David Hopwood, British geneticist

John Hopwood, colonial-era settler of Western Pennsylvania

John Hopwood, English cricketer

Len Hopwood, English cricketer

Mererid Hopwood, Welsh Poet

Ronald Arthur Hopwood, Rear Admiral, Royal Navy (1868–1949)

Shon Hopwood, reformed bank robber and self-taught attorney

Leveson-Gower family

Leveson-Gower ( LEW-sən GOR), also Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, is the name of a powerful British noble family. Over time, several members of the Leveson-Gower family were made knights, baronets and peers. Hereditary titles held by the family include the dukedom of Sutherland, as well as the

ancient earldom of Sutherland (created c. 1230) and the earldom of Granville (created 1833). Several other members of the family have also risen to prominence.

List of Mayors of Chichester

The following have been mayors of Chichester, Sussex:

William Combe 1390–91 MP for Chichester, 1382, 1384 and 1401

William Neel 1393–95, 1401–02 MP for Chichester, 1388, 1399 and 1415.

William Horlebat 1398–99. MP for Chichester, 1388

Thomas Patching 1407–08 MP for Chichester, 1486–1499

William Hore 1422-23, 1427–29, 1432–33, 1436–37, 1439–40, 1444–45, 1446-48. MP for Chichester, 1420 and 1431

John Digons 1548–49 MP for Chichester, 1554

Richard Knight 1554–55 MP for Chichester, 1555

John Digons 1556–57 and 1567–68

Lawrence Ardren 1564 MP for Chichester, 1558

Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond 1735–36

Lord George Lennox 1772–73

Charles Buckner 1783–84

Sir George Murray 1815 Vice-admiral, Royal Navy

R. C. Miller 1900

Leslie Evershed-Martin 1955–57 Founder of Chichester Festival Theatre

1969 S.J Watson

Major-general (United Kingdom)

Major general (Maj Gen), is a "two-star" rank in the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank was also briefly used by the Royal Air Force for a year and a half, from its creation to August 1919. In the British Army, a major general is the customary rank for the appointment of division commander. In the Royal Marines, the rank of major general is held by the Commandant General.

A major general is senior to a brigadier but subordinate to lieutenant general. The rank has a NATO rank code of OF-7, equivalent to a rear admiral in the Royal Navy or an air vice-marshal in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries.

The rank insignia is the star (or 'pip') of the Order of the Bath, over a crossed sword and baton.

In terms of orthography, compound ranks were invariably hyphenated, prior to about 1980. Nowadays the rank is almost equally invariably non-hyphenated.. When written as a title, especially before a person's name, both words of the rank are always capitalised, whether using the "traditional" hyphenated style of, say, the two World Wars, or the modern un-hyphenated style. When used as common nouns, they might be written in lower-case: "Major-General Montgomery was one of several major-generals to be promoted at this time."

Ogle, Northumberland

Ogle is a village in Northumberland, England, in the parish of Whalton, north-west of Ponteland and south-west of Morpeth. The surname Ogle comes from here, where the Ogle family built Ogle Castle and owned Kirkley Hall.


The English surname Percy, first taken by the House of Percy, Norman lords of Northumberland, derives from the village of Percy-en-Auge in Normandy. From there, it came into use as a given name. It is also a short form of the given name Percival, Perseus, etc.

Port admiral

Port admiral is an honorary rank in the United States Navy, and a former appointment in the British Royal Navy.


Raikes may refer to:

Members of the family founded by Robert Raikes the Elder:

Robert Raikes the Elder (1690-1757), British printer and newspaper proprietor

Robert Raikes (1736-1811), English promoter of Sunday Schools and philanthropist, eldest son of the above

Robert Napier Raikes (1813-1909), British soldier in India, grandson of the above

Cyril Raikes (1875-1963), British soldier, son of the above

Job Mathew Raikes (1767–1833) Governor of the Bank of England from 1801 to 1802

Thomas Raikes ("the Elder") (1741-1813), British banker, Governor of the Bank of England, third son of Robert Raikes the Elder

Thomas Raikes (dandy) ("the Younger") (1777-1848), British merchant banker, dandy and diarist, eldest son of the above

Harriet Raikes, novelist, daughter of the above

Henry Raikes (1782-1854), British clergyman, younger son of Thomas Raikes "the Elder"

Henry Cecil Raikes (1838-1891), British Conservative politician, son of the above

Sir Victor Raikes (1901-1986), British Conservative politician, grandson of the above

Dick Raikes (1912 – 2005) Royal Naval CommanderOthers:

Arthur Raikes (1867-1915), British army officer

Ernest Raikes, English cricketer

George Raikes (1873-1966), English cricketer and footballer, brother of Ernest Raikes

George Raikes (1873-1966), British sportsman

Sir Iwan Raikes (1921 – 2011) Vice-Admiral, Royal Navy officer who became Naval Secretary, son of Admiral Sir Robert Raikes.

Jeff Raikes (b. 1958), former chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder of the Raikes Foundation

Lucinda Raikes (b. 1975), British actress

Raymond Raikes (1910-1998), English radio classics director and producer

Sir Robert Raikes (Royal Navy officer) (1885–1953) Royal Navy officer

Robert Raikes (1765-1837), English banker

Robert Raikes (1683-1753), British Member of Parliament for Northallerton

Ron Raikes (1948-2009), farmer and Nebraska state senator

Thomas Raikes (cricketer) (1902-1984), English cricketer

Thomas Douglas Raikes, (1929- 2016), son of Admiral Sir Robert

Tricia Raikes, co-founder of the Raikes Foundation

Rear-Admiral, Reserve Aircraft

The Rear-Admiral, Reserve Aircraft also known as Rear-Admiral, (E) Reserve Aircraft was a senior Royal Navy appointment responsible for all administering all Naval Air Stations Reserve Aircraft, Aircraft Repair Yards and trials of Aircraft Carriers from 1949 to 1956.

Rear admiral (Royal Navy)

Rear admiral (RAdm) is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy. It is immediately superior to commodore and is subordinate to vice admiral. It is a two-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-7.

Red admiral

Red admiral may refer to:


Vanessa atalanta, found in temperate Europe, Asia and North America

Vanessa gonerilla, the New Zealand red admiral, found in New Zealand

Vanessa indica, the Indian red admiral, found in AsiaMilitary:

Admiral of the Red, the highest ranking admiral in the Royal Navy at one time, see Admiral (Royal Navy)

An admiral of an opposing force

Three-star rank

An officer of three-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-8. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, three-star officers hold the rank of vice admiral, lieutenant general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air marshal.

Two-star rank

An officer of two-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-7. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, two-star officers hold the rank of rear admiral, counter admiral, major general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air vice-marshal.

Vice-admiral (Royal Navy)

Vice-admiral is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy and equates to the NATO rank code OF-8. It is immediately superior to the rear admiral rank and is subordinate to the full admiral rank.

NATO rank code Student officer OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6
Royal Navy O Cdt Mid SLt Lt Lt Cdr Cdr Capt Cdre RAdm VAdm Adm Adm of the Fleet
Royal Marines O Cdt 2Lt Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Maj-Gen Lt-Gen Gen Capt-Gen
Army O Cdt 2Lt Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Maj-Gen Lt-Gen Gen Fd Mshl
Royal Air Force Off Cdt / SO APO / Plt Off Fg Off Flt Lt Sqn Ldr Wg Cdr Gp Capt Air Cdre AVM Air Mshl Air Chf Mshl Mshl of the RAF


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