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Guardsman's Red Tunic

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Guardsman's Red Tunic

Is this an icon?


Guardsman's Red Tunic

Think of any Royal ceremonial event and the image of a guardsman in his distinctive red tunic and bearskin hat springs to mind.

Red uniforms were introduced at the same time as the New Model Army in 1645. Blue was the first choice, but red material was cheaper. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the uniform of British soldiers was a red (or scarlet) coat and white breeches. The bright colours were chosen to help distinguish friend from foe on smoky battlefields. Since then, the nickname "Redcoats" has been recognised worldwide as referring to the British army.

Though the Grenadier Guards are the regiment most associated with the image of the redcoat, the Coldstream, Irish, Scots and Welsh Guards also wear this uniform. They are distinguishable by the numbers of buttons worn on the tunic: Grenadiers have single buttons, Coldstream Guards have pairs, Scots threes, Irish fours and Welsh in groups of fives. The red tunic is worn for all ceremonial duties, including the annual Trooping of the Colour.


Your comments

The red tunic has been associated with the English Army since 1645. It has been the subject of much admiration, and sometimes vilification, but it remains nonetheless something immediately associated with both the Monarch and with London. Throughout the world for centuries the "Redcoat" was the most representative, and most recognisable, symbol of the country. It is a representation from the past that endures today.

Bryan Mansfield

Yes, I agree with the other commenters regarding the essential Britishness (not just Englishness) of this icon
James Richards

It is certainly iconic of the British Army (and Royal Marines) but they are British, not English symbols.
graham Kent

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My nomination is the garden shed.