Over the past decade we have noticed a rampant increase in the number of people who are wearing their orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. The cadre of people who flagrantly violate the official rules on how you are supposed to wear your medals ranges from the average veteran right up to current and former Governors General. Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that the higher the rank of the individual the more likely they are to just wear whatever they want, however they want. We like to think of this as “Instant Dictator Syndrome” or self-aggrandizement at its most obvious.

Why do people wear their medals incorrectly? Often it is because they simply do not know any better. If you are one of these people you should consult WEARING ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS which is available from the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall. This guide will help you figure out how you are supposed to wear your officially granted orders, decorations and medals.

When it comes to wearing your medals incorrectly the worst offenders tend to be former Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and retired Generals. When these people – all in authority and all surrounded by staff who know better – wear their medals wrong they are obviously suffering from the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The attitude accompanied with this most severe condition is “the more medals I wear the more important I will look.”

This simple blog is aimed at revealing the myriad of fellow Canadians who cannot seem to wear their medals correctly.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Miniature Royal Error

Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence (back row),
not a miniatures occasion. 
Here is Sir Timothy wearing his medals correctly. 
Yes, even members of the Royal Family occasionally make errors when it comes to wearing their orders, decorations and medals. Above we have a photo of HRH The Princess Royal's husband, Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, KCVO, CB, ADC wearing miniatures on the RN Naval Ceremonial Day Coat (aka Flag Officer's Frock Coat). To be fair RN Dress Regs, do not cover this order of dress in detail, no doubt because its wear is limited to members of the Royal Family, Admirals of the Fleet, Second Sea Lord, full Admirals and the Defense Services Secretary (when an RN Officer), so the pool of eligible candidates is small. Given that it is specifically listed as a Naval Ceremonial DAY Coat, it should be obvious that only full size insignia should be worn. Spink's Guide to the Wearing of Orders, Decorations and Medals covers this topic and there is no provision for the wearing of miniature insignia on the Naval Ceremonial Day Coat. Everyone else in the photo is property turned out. One cannot imagine that HRH was terribly impressed with her husband on this occasion! There are many photos of Sir Timothy wearing his medals correctly, so one must assume this was just a wardrobe malfunction. It is also nice to see some RCN representation in the photo above! The RCN Petty Officer 1st Class is wearing his medals correctly.


  1. Interesting variation in sword belts as well

  2. The Full Admiral is wearing the belt introduced in 1893 for Flag Officers and Commodores. Since 1938 this belt is to be worn by all flag officers when in the RN Naval Ceremonial Day Coat, "all other officers wear a plain black sword belt" (at least according to p. 84 of Rank and Rate: Royal Navy Officer's Insignia since 1856). The belt being worn by HRH and Laurence was originally intended for Captains and Commanders. There may well be a more recent regulation related to the more decorative belt being reserved for Admirals of the Fleet and Full Admirals while the old Captains and Commander's belt being for other Flag Officers.

  3. A keen eye on the sword belts. I have also seen a picture of the Prince of Wales wearing the senior officer's sword belt vice the flag officer belt while wearing a full admiral's uniform. I'm also wondering why only the Princess Royal is wearing her riband of knighthood. You will also note that the First Sea Lord is wearing his medals in the traditional naval swing mounted method. It is unfortunate that the RCN has had court mounting shoved down its throat as a requirement.

  4. I stand corrected on the riband comment. I was unaware they are normally only worn by knights grand cross.

  5. This blog seems to be dedicated to the miniature royal navy sword.