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Royal Thames Yacht Club (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2014-12-13 by rob raeside
Keywords: royal thames yacht club | blue ensign |
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[Royal Thames Yacht Club] image by Clay Moss

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Royal Thames Yacht Club flag

[Royal Thames Yacht Club] image by Clay Moss, 12 November 2014

In 1830 the club, without authorisation, used a white flag with a Union canton and the initials R T Y C in red on the fly.

[Royal Thames Yacht Club] image by Clay Moss, 12 November 2014

In 1835: “Whereas we deem it expedient that the Royal Thames Yacht Club shall be permitted to wear the distinguishing flag described in the following page: We do, therefore, therefore by virtue of the power and authority vested in us, hereby warrant and authorise the said flag to be worn on board the respective vessels of the Royal Thames Yacht Club accordingly. Given under our hand and the Seal of the Office of the Admiralty the 19th day of February 1835.
J.P.Beresford, Ashley.
An Union Jack and crown with the letters R.T.Y.C. in red.”

From this, the colour of the ensign is not clear, but it must have been white, as a subsequent letter dated 22 July 1842 , includes, “...vessels belonging to the Royal Thames Yacht Club shall be permitted to wear the blue ensign of Her Majesty’s fleet on board their respective vessels, with the distinctive marks of the club, as hitherto worn on the white ensign, ...”

The change to plain Blue Ensign was by warrant dated 24 July 1848.
David Prothero, 11 November 2014

For 153 years, The Royal Thames YC has used an undefaced Blue Ensign (without any badge). The Royal Thames is one of the first clubs to use the plain blue ensign, and the club's use of the flag is indeed well known in yachting circles. Since 1848, the Royal Thames YC has been authorized to allow qualified members to use the undefaced blue ensign. 

[Royal Thames Yacht Club] image by Clay Moss, 12 November 2014

The Club first used a plain white ensign, defaced with a club badge during the 1830s. Then, in 1842, the Admiralty decided that the White Ensign should be exclusive to the Royal Yacht Squadron (the nation's senior club). Thereafter, from mid-1842 until 1848, the Royal Thames YC used a blue ensign that was defaced in the fly with a crown (and I believe this was a red-colored depiction of the Royal crown). 

In 1848, the club changed to a plain blue ensign, and this has remained the same ever since. I do not know the reason why the crown was removed in 1848. I do know that the plain blue ensign ranks higher in precedence than a defaced version. 

Sources: Navy List 2001 page 243; Navy List 1995 page 260; Navy List 1989 page 298; Navy List 1973, page 599. Navy Lists of 1938 page 369; and 1927 page 364A. (all listing Royal Thames YC as using blue ensign undefaced). 
James T. Liston, 9 December 2001

The Thames Yacht Club was formed in 1823 by a break-away group, when the Cumberland Sailing Society, established in 1775, was re-named His Majesty's Coronation Sailing Society. The Society's flag was white with a crimson border, royal crown, and lettering "G.R. IV Coronation Fleet".
[The King's Sailing Master by Douglas Dixon]
David Prothero, 26 December 2005

[Royal Thames Yacht Club] image by Željko Heimer, 17 June 2014

In the Le Gras' Album 1858 the flag said to be used on the main mast is a swallow-tailed blue flag with a white cross and the crown in the centre. The crown is a generic one, shown in yellow with red lining. The red-only St Edwards crown is used nowadays, but this might have been a recent development.

[Royal Thames Yacht Club] image by Željko Heimer, 17 June 2014

For the ensign, a defaced blue ensign is shown, with the same crown. According to James' account, this would have been correct for the period 1842-1848, when the crown was dropped for the plain blue ensign.
Željko Heimer, 17 June 2014


[Royal Thames YC burgee] image by Clay Moss, 21 July 2010

You can read all about England's oldest yacht club at: The burgee on the website contains an all red crown.
Clay Moss, 29 May 2007

Royal Thames has a plain red St Edwards crown on the burgee and NOT a fully coloured version. Evidence for this is Rule 67.4 in my 1989 version of their rules. It states “The burgee shall be blue with a white St Georges cross and a red crown in the centre”.
Neil Freeman, 13 February 2009