Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, RNZAOC Colonel-in-Chief

The appointment of Colonel-in-Chief is a traditional ceremonial position in common usage across several Commonwealth armies. The Colonel-in-Chief is the royal patron of a regiment, and while not an operational appointment, the role is one centred on fidelity and tradition, creating a personal link between the regiment and the monarchy.

The colonel-in-chief of 16 British Army Regiments and Corps, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, was also the Colonel-in-Chief of the following New Zealand Regiments and Corps:

  • 1953 – 2022: Captain-General of the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery.
  • 1953 – 2022: Captain-General of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps.
  • 1953 – 2022: Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers.
  • 1953 – 1964: Colonel-in-Chief of the Countess of Ranfurly’s Own Auckland Regiment
  • 1953 – 1964: Colonel-in-Chief of the Wellington Regiment (City of Wellington’s Own)
  • 1964 – 2022: Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
  • 1977 – 1996: Colonel-in-Chief Royal of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II assumed the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief, Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) in 1977, an appointment that had its origins in 1921.

In January 1921, His Majesty King George V appointed HRH, The Duke of York, as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC). From the beginning, the new Colonel-in-Chief took a great personal interest in all RAOC activities and achievements, with Brigadier A.H Fernyhough noting in A History of the RAOC 1920-1945 that the RAOC was “beginning to be recognised as an important element in the efficiency of any modern army.”[1]

On the Duke of York’s accession to the throne as George VI in 1936, he held the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief of the RAOC until his death in 1952.

On the eve of her coronation, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II graciously consented to continue her late father’s appointment as the Colonel-in-Chief of the RAOC.

The Ordnance Corps of Australia, Canada and New Zealand had established formal alliances with the RAOC in 1920, leading to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II accepting the appointments of Colonel-of-Chief of The Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps (RAAOC) in 1953 and Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC) in 1958. However, the RNZAOC was to have a longer wait, while the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) and Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) gained Colonels-in-Chiefs.

In 1954, HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, took up the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief RNZASC. On his death in 1974, his widow Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, assumed the RNZASC Colonel-in-Chief appointment. Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, continued as the Colonel-in-Chief on the disestablishment of the RNZASC and the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT) formation in 1979.[2]

Discussions for the appointment of a Colonel-in-Chief for the RNZEME had begun in the mid-1960s with HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, appointed as Colonel-in-Chief in 1971.[3]

The anomaly of the RNZAOC not having a Colonel-in-Chief was rectified on 2 June 1977 with the Governor-General announcing that on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second had graciously accepted the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief, RNZAOC.[4]

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Silver Jubliee 1977

For the next nineteen years, in her role as RNZAOC Colonel-in-Chief, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth took great interest in the activities of the RNZAOC and, during royal visits, provided the RNZAOC the honour of mounting Royal Guards for their Colonel-in-Chief.

With the amalgamation of the RNZCT, RNAZOC and the RNZEME into the Royal New Zealand Logistic Regiment on 8 December 1996, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ceased to be the Colonel-in-Chief of the RNZAOC.

Concurrently HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, also ceased being the Colonels-in-Chiefs of their respective Corps.


Notes

[1] Brigadier A.H Fernyhough C.B.E. M.C., A short history of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (London: RAOC, 1965), 27.

[2] Julia Millen, Salute to service: a history of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport and its predecessors, 1860-1996 (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1997, 1997), 422.

[3] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, RNZEME 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 263-64.

[4] “The Queen’s Silver Jubilee and Birthday Honours List 1977 “, New Zealand Gazette, No 66 (Wellington), 16 June 1977, http://www.nzlii.org/nz/other/nz_gazette/1977/66.pdf.

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