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United Kingdom: Royal Naval Reserve

Last modified: 2010-12-10 by rob raeside
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Royal Naval Reserve

Reported on the Royal Navy website:

Following a personal recommendation by the First Sea Lord, Her Majesty the Queen has graciously approved the presentation of the Sovereign's Colour for the Royal Navy to the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) in recognition of their continuing support to the Regular Service. Commodore John Ellis, the Senior Reserve Officer, said: "This is a tremendous accolade for those who have served in the RNVR and RNR and for those serving today. The Wavy Navy (RNVR) which was amalgamated into the RNR in 1958, provided more than 80% of Naval Officers and Ratings in 1945 and that valiant spirit lives on, with more than 97% of today's RNR coming from a volunteer civilian background."

It is planned to combine the presentation of the Sovereign's Colour with a special parade in London to mark the centenary of the Naval Volunteer Reserves next year.
David Prothero, 21 August 2002

The Royal Naval Reserve does not have its own flag as such. RNR shore establishments fly the white ensign and the fast patrol boats used by the URNU are commissioned RN ships. The blue ensign may be used by RNR captains on merchant ships but I am not aware [in the modern situation] of any examples of commissioned ships being captained by RNR Officers. Territorial Army personnel are signed out of the TA and into the Regular Army when deployed on operations. Assuming parity with the RNR, and on that basis, I cannot imagine ever seeing an RNR Officer as Captain of a warship. Although theoretically possible (as RN ships fly both an ensign and pennant) the reference below confirms it is rarely seen in the Service.

A more succinct version of this, below (1), was taken from and the official version, bottom(2), was taken from

1. The Blue Ensign undefaced is worn by masters of vessels in possession of a warrant issued by the Director of Naval Reserves, and by the members of certain yacht clubs. Such warrants are issued to officers in the active or retired lists of the Royal Naval Reserve and the maritime reserve forces of other Commonwealth Realms and territories. The master must be of the rank of Lieutenant RN or above, and fishing vessels must be crewed by at least four other Royal Naval reservists or pensioners.
2. A variety of defaced Blue Ensigns are worn by Government vessels other than warships. Undefaced Blue Ensigns may be used by the holder of an Admiralty warrant which may be granted to the master of a merchant ship who is in the RNR. Blue Ensigns (defaced or undefaced) are also granted to some civil authorities and yacht clubs. It is rare to see an undefaced Blue Ensign in military service.
David Clegg, 3 May 2006

More details presented on this page: Naval Reserve Ensign