Why no Royal Army?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Khyros, Jul 17, 2007.

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  1. The Royal or Republican thread started me wondering something... why is it you have a Royal Navy and Royal Air Force but no Royal Army yet there are Royal regiments? Only thing I can think of is that the bulk of the army stayed loyal to parliament during the civil war and the regiments bear the term "royal" in their name were the exceptions who stayed loyal to the royals. :?
  2. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

  3. Ah! Thank you kindly Gremlin! Very enlightening. :)
  4. The Royal Navy was once upon a time paid for by the customs, which was a tax that went directly into the royal treasury.

    There was a time when monarchs could raise a Royal Army (or Army Royal as it was called during the reign of Henry VIII). It was raised by the Crown using taxes approved by Parliament. During the Bishops' Wars of the 17th Century (the first of the British Civil Wars of the 17th Century), King Charles I tried to raise an army to enforce High Church worship in Scotland against the will of Parliament. Then when he went to war against Parliament, King Charles used obsolete laws to raise am army under his own control.

    (Parliament's army from 1645 was paid for by the Excise, which was enacted by Parliament.)

    After the English Civil War, this wasn't going to be allowed again. The Mutiny Act raised the Army every year in Parliament, and ensured that monarchs couldn't control the Army and therefore couldn't overthrow representative government (such as it was). So the Army wasn't royal. The Army's supply of officers was, however, controlled by the Crown who appointed the Commander-in-Chief and who appointed officers through the C-in-C's Military Secretary. So the Army wasn't parliamentary either.

    The Royal Artillery had always been royal because it had to be kept up in peacetime regardless of votes in Parliament. For a very long time its parent organisation (the Board of Ordnance) also controlled the guns of the Royal Navy. When the Royal Engineers were established as a corps rather than a PPP, it was created along the lines of the RA.

    In the Eighteenth Century, monarchs started to wear uniforms and associate themselves with regiments: the 8th of Foot, for instance, was called the King's Regiment. The 8th had blue facings ("royal blue") and wore the white horse of the House of Hanover on their hats.

    After the First World War the "royal" distinction was widely extended. Nearly every corps in the Army was called "royal", and (for example) every regiment in the Canadian Army was given the distinction of "royal blue" facings.

    So the summary is: you can trust the monarch to pay for his or her own navy with customs revenue -- after all, you can't overthrow the government with the Royal Navy. You can't trust the monarch or parliament with an army, so no Royal Army. Since then, the distinction "Royal" or some version thereof has been applied to almost the entire Army (less the Int Corps and the APTC).
  5. The Royal Navy almost entirely sided with Parliament during the Civil War. It was sorely neglected after the British Civil Wars, and did not recover afterwards until after it had been defeated in the Medway.

    By the Dutch.
  6. Ahhh, in my day I was always wondering why it was not the Royal Army Catering Corps!

    Thanks for the info.
  7. Consider the Honourable Artillery Company. Denied the prefix "Royal" due to an unfortunate monarch shortening escapade.
  8. is that why? I didn't know...I would have thought it was because the whole "royal" thing was very much after the regiment's formation/name etc , when such things were just assumed, and not "en vogue", or plitical, as they became later.

    If you know anything about such a "denial", I would be genuily fascinated to hear it, as I served in the regiment, and am interested in such quirks of history anyway.
  9. Basically, because the British Army is tribal - a confederation of many different units which often had quite personal/ feudal origins, and were frequently erstwhile enemies of each other! Since about the early C18th (Union of England & Scotland, 1707) the "British Army" was sanctioned by Parliament, but bound by an oath of loyalty to the (unified) Crown - more palatable to many "clannish" warrior types (notably Scots & Irish) who were used to personal bonds/ fealty oaths.

    It would have been too politically sensitive to confer a "Royal" prefix to the Army as a whole; such was conferred only on individual regiments/ corps. It was all about keeping the Army "apolitical": serving the State without any overt political involvement (given recent events, a "Royal Army" would have had distinctly political connotations!), but bound to the symbolic personification of that State.

    A typically British compromise (Mr Brown take note!) - a pragmatic solution to the potential problems of binding quite disparate, and potentially mutually hostile, elements to a common purpose. And, of course, it reassured the politicians (esp those of Republican tendencies) that they were not financing a "Royalist" army that might turn against them.
  10. The answer to your question is in the second paragraph Here
  11. Yep, the HAC, while formed in 1537, fought for Parliament during the English Civil War, and therefore then Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Note the Double Royal) claim to be the regiment with the "longest period of unbroken service to the crown", after they were formed in 1539.

    The Jersey Militia are even older again by all accounts.

    I prepare to be stand corrected, i'm not 100% sure.
  12. There you go you gunner types - a labrador and round buttons will never make up for disloyalty or provide class :p
  13. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    To be strictly accurate the HAC fought on both sides during the Civil War!
  14. Did they win?
  15. Actually I think you'll find that the HAC has been infantry for most of its existence, it just that they also have the wit and brains to be capable of being gunners :)

    I'd suggest the fundamental reason for there being no 'Royal Army' is because the Army is basically illegal so how can something illegal be royal? The Bill of Rights 1689 makes a 'standing army illegal', hence up until about 30 years ago the Annual Army Act was needed to legalise the Army. Now the Act is every 5 years but there is an annual Order or Regulation (can't remember which) to legalise it. However, there may be a flaw in this argument because I have an idea that the RAF inherited the Army's legalities, but am not sure if that included its illegality.

    Personally I don't see how any country with any claim to democracy can have a standing army.