An Aiguillette (pronounced "egg-wee-let") is a decorative braided cord worn as a symbol of honour or rank by military and other uniformed personnel. It is usually worn on the shoulder or chest and is typically made of gold, silver, or another metallic colour.
The history of the aiguillette can be traced back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was originally used as a functional item by military officers. The term "aiguillette" is derived from the French word "aiguille," which means "needle."
In those early days, the aiguillette was used to fasten a soldier's sword or other weapon to their uniform, preventing it from getting in the way during battle. Over time, the aiguillette evolved from a practical item to a decorative one, and began to be used as a symbol of rank and distinction.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, aiguillettes were primarily worn by cavalry officers in France and other European countries. They were typically made of gold or silver bullion and were intricately braided to create a distinctive pattern. As military uniforms became more elaborate, aiguillettes began to be worn by officers in other branches of the military as well.
Today, aiguillettes continue to be used as a symbol of rank and distinction in military and other uniformed services around the world. They are often worn on ceremonial occasions, and their design and colour can vary depending on the service branch, rank, and other factors.
Aiguillettes and the British Army
In the British military, aiguillettes are typically worn by officers in certain roles or appointments. The specific ranks or appointments that wear aiguillettes can vary depending on the service branch, regiment, or unit. Here are some examples:
- The Household Division: Aiguillettes are worn by officers in the Household Division, which includes the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, and Welsh Guards. In this context, aiguillettes are worn by officers who serve as aides-de-camp to members of the royal family or who hold certain ceremonial positions.
- Equerries to the Queen: Equerries to the Queen are senior officers in the British Armed Forces who are responsible for the provision of personal support and assistance to members of the royal family. Equerries to the Queen are authorized to wear aiguillettes on their right shoulder as a symbol of their appointment.
- Aides-de-camp: Aides-de-camp are officers who are appointed to serve as personal assistants to senior military officials, members of the royal family, or other dignitaries. Aides-de-camp may be authorized to wear aiguillettes as part of their uniform.
- Other ceremonial roles: Aiguillettes may also be worn by officers in other ceremonial roles or appointments, such as the Chief of the Defence Staff's parade staff or the Master of the Queen's Music.
Personnel not in these specific roles should not wear this article of regalia.