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Grenadier Guards: UK

Last modified: 2023-10-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: grenadier guards | company colours |
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[Grenadier Guards Flag]     [Grenadier Guards Flag]
Grenadier Guards (commercial variants) - images based on this photo and this photo.
images by Pete Loeser, 28 January 2022

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Introduction: A brief history of the Grenadier Guards

The Grenadier Guards is a regular British Army infantry regiment that was formed by Lord Wentworth in 1656 to provide protection for the then exiled Charles II in Bruges, in West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. Ten years later, in 1665 the regiment was combined with John Russell's Regiment of Guards, and together they formed the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. Since that time they have always filled a both a ceremonial and protective role. In 1900, they provided the cadre of the Irish Guards, in 1915 they also provided the cadre of the Welsh Guards. They were operational in the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the Anglo-Egyptian War, the Mahdist War, and the Second Boer War. The were granted the "Grenadier" designation by a royal proclamation and are still considered the first regiment of the royal household infantry, although historically a soldier armed with grenades or a grenade launcher was called a grenadier.
During the First World War, the Grenadier Guards was expanded from three battalions to five. Four of these battalions served on the Western Front. In the Second World War, they were once again increased in size to six battalions, and two were converted to the Guards Armoured Division. These units fought in France, North-West Europe, North Africa and Italy. However, since the 1990s they have been reduced in size to just one battalion, which served in in Palestine, Malaya, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Pete Loeser, 28 January 2022

Company Colours of the Grenadier Guards

These five Company Colours belonged to my late father (a Major in the Grenadiers), plus one small flag (not sure what).
Frances Taylor, 9 September 2009
[Click on images for larger versions.]

[Grenadier Guards company colours] image provided by Frances Taylor, 9 September 2009
6th Company "Scotland"

[Grenadier Guards company colours]image provided by Frances Taylor, 9 September 2009
7th Company - "Ireland"

[Grenadier Guards company colours] image provided by Frances Taylor, 9 September 2009
18th Company - "Edward III"

[Grenadier Guards company colours] image provided by Frances Taylor, 9 September 2009
20th Company - "Charles II"

[Grenadier Guards company colours] image provided by Frances Taylor, 9 September 2009
26th Company - "William III"

[Grenadier Guards company colours] image provided by Frances Taylor, 9 September 2009
2nd Company, 3 Battalion

The crimson flags are company colours of the Grenadier Guards, to wit the 6th, 7th, 18th, 26th and 28th Companies. Although the regiment once had 3 battalions and 30 companies, there remains since 1994 only one battalion. The 30 company badges, however, remain in use. Battalion colours are replaced about every ten years, and the 30 companies take turns displaying their badge as the central device on each new Queen's Colour (even though the remaining battalion consists of only 4 companies.)
Company badges 1-20 were granted by Charles II in 1661, 21-24 by Queen Anne in 1713, and 25-30 by Queen Victoria in 1855. The so-called Queen's Crown in each flag signifies that these all date since 1953. Company colours do not have the same historical, religious and military significance that are attached to battalion colours.
T.F. Mills, 11 September 2009

Company Colours are small additional colours carried by foot regiments of the British and Canadian Brigade of Guards, and a survival of the general 16th/17th Century practice of carrying a colour for each company in a regiment - camp colours or silks.
Christopher Southworth, 11 September 2009

In the British Guards, Company Colours also act as the personal flag of senior officers. In the Grenadiers, for example, the Regimental Lieutenant Colonel uses that of the 27th Company, and the Regimental Adjutant that of the 28th. The Battalion COs, 2-i-Cs and Adjutants use the badges of the three junior companies of their respective battalions (or at least they did in the 1970s).
Ian Sumner, 11 September 2009

I am a bit puzzled about the flags of the Grenadier Guards. The webpage at displays the company colours as Great Union with company badge in centre and company number in upper hoist corner, that was around 1760.

Furthermore Dino Lemonofides (1971 in Brit. Inf. Colours) claims that the regimental Colours bear the badge of companies in strict rotation (what for me seems to be not really efficient and is perhaps a conspiracy of flag makers).

[Grenadier Guards company colours] images by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 September 2023

A few years ago I spotted two colours of the Grenadier Guards in Worcester Cathedral.
According to the guards webpage ( it should be colours of the 2nd Bt., granted (?) on 26th April 1970 and taken out of service some time before 1991 (as the battle honour of Gulf (1991) is missing).

Now my quaestions:
1) Above we display a few company colours, all crimson with badge, number and name, all displaying the rear side. According to sources all those ought to display a Great Union with badge instead. Is it possible that the rear of them was a crimson sheet? None of the sources I know says anything about it.

2) Is the left image that one of the former Lt.Col. Colour (Little Union in canton) and is the right one a regimental colour of the 2nd bataillon (not a company flag) and an example of the rotation system as described by Lemonofides, in this case displaying the badge of the 6zh company and II as number of bataillon in upper hoist?

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 September 2023