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The Royal British Legion Standard (Dave Taylor)

Most organisations have a pivotal icon which is common to all of its members and recognised by all.  Without delving into pre-history and the ancient civilisations, Standards over the last two thousand years have gone from the Roman Legions and their Golden Eagle, through the Horns, Birds and Various Animal Heads of the Vikings, Saxons, Jutes and Angles in the first century AD.  Then into the second Century AD with the Heraldic Banners carried by the knights and Crusaders in defence of the Christian Faith until we get to the early Kings of England when the Royal Cipher was used.  Next came the Union of Great Britain and a Flag which in its various early guises was used by our Army along with their own regimental standards to be defended at all costs.  This brings us to the present day when our troops still parade with the Union Flag and their own Regimental Colours.

The Royal British Legion has their Cap and Heraldic badges and, of course, the Poppy Logo which most people recognise and associate with the Royal British Legion.  

However, the "Legion" does have a further icon which is used at all ceremonial occasions.  Although this icon is of the same basic design for all branches, each is peculiar in that the Branch name is embroidered onto it.

Although this looks like a flag it is known as a "Standard".  The encarta dictionary lists a "standard" as a flag that is the emblem of, and a focus of loyalty.  It is also in military terms a rallying point for troops.  So it has to have some meaning.  Which I will come to shortly.

The Royal British Legion Standard was designed by our first General Secretary Col EC Heath in 1922 and made its first appearance in June of that year at the Crystal Palace Sports Day.  It was first paraded as the National Standard at the Annual Conference Cenotaph Service in 1924.  By the end of 1928 one in every three branches had their own Standards.

The Totton and Eling Royal British Legion has had two standards during its 77 years, one of which is "Laid up" in the Church of St Mary's, Eling and this the other.  The first standard was laid up when the British Legion was granted the Royal Charter in 1971 to become the Royal British Legion and the standard had to be replaced although I believe this was not done until 1977.  

The fact that Standards are dedicated before being taken into use, and after service are laid up in sacred or public buildings helps to maintain the atmosphere of veneration with which they are regarded.  The Standard should be a rallying point of the Branch and as a constant symbolic reminder of the Legion's motto "Service not Self"

So, to the meaning of the various parts of the standard.

The Spirehead should remind us of the pillar of flames, or the finger pointing to Heaven, which is generally depicted in our churches by their spires.

The Union Flag in the Dexter (Upper left quadrant) bears the crosses of St. George, St. Andrew and St. Patrick.

ST. GEORGE is the Patron Saint of Fighting Men.ST. ANDREW was a Disciple of Christ.ST. PATRICK was the first Christian Missionary to this Country.

He also, allegedly, banished all snakes from Ireland - pity he couldn't do that here as well.

Beneath these Crosses all the great epics of Chivalry in our history have been achieved. They also symbolise our unity and loyalty to our one Nation. Added to these Crosses are the Blue and Old Gold of The Royal British Legion.

The BLUE is to remind us of the gallant souls who have passed on beneath the deep water and in the air.The GOLD represents those shining warriors who, sanctified by service, have passed unsullied to the Throne of Grace.

The Tassels remind us of the beginning and ending of life, and the Cord, the golden line along which all good Legionnaires should pass during their brief sojourn on earth. The Golden fringe or frame binds us all together in one great Brotherhood.Thus on the Standard there is representation of our Service to God, our Queen and our Country.

To carry the standard for the Branch is a great honour.