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The Standard Bearer

Safeguarding the Flag

In ancient days the flag was only used as a Banner or Standard.

The great importance and symbolism of the Banner has been told throughout the history. Not just anyone were entrusted to safeguard the Banner.

During the time of the crusades, the Bishops bore the Banner; on other occasions this duty was done by the Chief, the prince or the Commander himself.

Later on, it became the duty of the Standard Bearer. This Standard Bearer should be one vigorous and brave young officer; who willingly would sacrifice his life to defend the Banner.

The Standard Bearer should never surrender his Banner, if he, during a battle, could no longer safeguard the Banner; he should wrap his body into the Banner awaiting the final slash.

This was not just an empty phrase in those days. It is believed that the following historical Danish Oath of Allegiance will confirm this.

A Danish Oath of Allegiance

A Danish Standard Bearer from about 1848...

A Danish Standard Bearer
from about 1848.

In the early 1600 a Danish Oath of Allegiance to the Standard Bearer did sound like this:

"I trust you this Banner; because I believe, You are an honest and brave Man; You must lead it, like it is proper for a loyal Warrior.

You must safeguard it, like a real Dane will safeguard his Wedded Wife.

You shall wave this Banner for honest People, but never wave it for traitors.

On the March and mounting Guard, during Storms and Battles, you must appear as an Example to brave Soldiers; you should never retreat; equally should you never cause the Army to become discouraged and running away from the enemy.

If, in the Battle, the Enemy should cut of your Right Hand, grasp the Banner with your left hand.

If you loose both your Hands, grasp the Banner by your Teeth's.

You must safeguard it, as long as you are a live and breathing.

Are you forced to give up fighting, may God forbid that; you must wrap the Banner around your Body and die".

This was one old Danish Oath of Allegiance. The Swedish King Gustav the 2nd Adolf (1611-1632) handed the Banner to the Standard Bearer giving an almost identical command.

The Banner on board

To day's ceremonial is a little more peacefull!

Each year the Banner of the Royal Danish Naval Academy are brought from the Academy on board the training vessels, marking the spring and the beginning of the sailing season for the naval cadets.

This is part of an old tradition, where the training of the naval cadets were ships based in the summer time, and most theoretical in the winter time.

The Standard is brougt on board the training vessel that should lead the cadets during their practical sailing in the upcoming summer months.

The cadets march through the center of Copenhagen to bring the standard on board.

Even though, the training of naval cadets to day has undergone quite significant changes, the ceremony is still practised.

Fanen bringes ombord

The Banner is escorted on board the training vessel.
(Photo: Royal Danish Navy)

In the fall, the Banner is escorted back to the Royal Danish Naval Academy.

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Søværnets operative Kommando, (Admiral Danish Fleet) Århus


Vort flag, Forlaget Codan, Copenhagen 1943

44You are also referred to the Naval Bibliography

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This page was last updated: May 3, 2006

This page was first published: September 16, 2001

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