Insignia Variations between 1881 and 1902 

The creation of the new, so-called 'Territorial' infantry regiments under the Cardwell and Childers Reforms over a relatively short period, had necessarily led to some compromises and hasty decisions. When selecting new insignia for the regiments created by merger between the Militia and Regulars of the hitherto sequentially numbered line, there were inevitably some units who saw themselves as having lost out with some element of their much prized and separate lineage. In the years that followed attitudes gradually settled and, as the new identities developed, some prejudices and strong feelings came to the surface and led to change. Some regiments had embraced the input and influence of the former Militia, so that the symbols that they had brought to the union became very much a part of the unit identity. The roses of Yorkshire and Lancashire are a prevalent example of this. In some cases former Militia badges were dropped, a good example being the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who perhaps resting on the dignity of their time-honoured lineage as the former 6th Regiment of the Line, decided that they preferred their ancient Antelope insignia over the chained bear of the Neville Family and so changed their collar badge. In other cases, such as that of the York and Lancaster Regiment, successors of one of the two previously numbered regiments felt that their previous collar badge had been insufficiently respected, and so to the Bengal Tiger collar badge of the old 65th was added the combined red and white rose of the old 84th York and Lancaster. In this way the two battalions, 1st and 2nd, each felt that their history was equally valued and represented within their conjoined insignia. Other examples of change were much more subtle and items as small as buttons might be changed to a minute degree. Good examples being the senior regiment of England, the Queen’s Royal (West Surrey) Regiment, who wishing their longevity to be emphasized added the date 1661 to an otherwise almost identical button, or the Seaforth Highlanders, who thinking the stag on their button looked more like a cow, replaced the image with a more slender variety. Some other changes were brought about simply by change of regimental title either, to add the approbation of ‘Royal’ as a prefix, or to reflect a change in wording so that the Territorial association appeared in sequence before the name of a Royal personage whose title graced the regiment’s identity. Finally in 1901, the old Queen Victoria died and Edward VII came to the throne. This led to the adoption of a new and so-called Tudor crown to signify his reign, so that over the succeeding year all insignia was changed to reflect this.

Please Note:  As many of you know, the study of British badges and insignia can be complicated.  We strive to ensure accuracy every day.  Any time we find an error we do correct it on the site, so if you have seen a mistake in the past, check the page again as we have probably corrected it.
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The Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment).  In recognition of the gallantry of the 1st Battalion at Tofrek in 1885, the regiment was granted the title "ROYAL".  Because the 1st Battalion remained overseas for some time, the change of insignia did not take place until 1891. Most of the insignia remained the same except for the title scroll on the helmet plate, the scarlet backing to the badge and the addition of "Royal" on the waist clasp circle.
The button was also changesd slightly with an "R" before "BERKS" beneath the dragon.  The collar badges remained unchanged.
The King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry).  On 1st June 1887, the regiment's title was changed from the King's Own Light Infantry (South Yorkshire Regiment) to the title it would retain until amalgamation in the 1960s.  The regiment was not happy with its insignia and petitioned for some changes which received the Queen's signature.  The Badge on the helmet plate was simplified along with the badge on the waist clasp.  The full title of the regiment was now on the helmet plate scroll and the waist clasp circle bore "The Yorkshire Light Infantry".  The button was also changed adding a silver rose in the centre of the bugle.  The only change to the collar badges was the replacement of the roses in silver embroidery to ones of silver metal.
The following regiments made changes to most of their full dress insignia between 1883 and 1902.
The West India Regiment.  The two West India Regiments were amalgamated in 1888 to form two battalions.  The immediate changes were not obvious.  The 2nd battalion, which had yellow facings still had them in 1896 and it is possible that the changes in insignia were also not quick to change.  By 1898 both battalions had adopted them.
The East Kent Regiment (The Buffs). In 1900 A scroll with the word “THE BUFFS” was added above the garter and below the crown. 

The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) In 1900 A scroll with the word “THE KING’S OWN” was added above the garter and below the crown. In addition, the ground in the centre was changed to crimson velvet.
The Suffolk Regiment. In 1900, the Castle and Key were redesigned to conform to War Office instructions.

The Worcester Regiment. The design in the centre was changed to a silver eight pointed star in 1891. On the star, in gilt metal, the Garter with motto. Within the Garter, the Lion in silver on a black velvet ground. Below the Garter a scroll in gilt inscribed “Firm”.
The following regiments made changes to their Headdress Insignia.
All the Rifle Regiments changed their helmets for busbies in 1891. The black Persian lambskin busby of a size and shape now familiar to all, had black silk plaited cords in front with two cords behind.  The cords were secured on the sides with two small bronze bugles, which later became silver.  Above the badge was an oval black cord boss which in the Royal Irish Rifles was dark green.  The badges were as follows;

King’s Royal Rifle Corps.  The Maltese Cross in Bronze metal. Above this a tablet inscribed “Celer Et Audax” On the Cross, the battle honours of the regiment. On the black boss above a bronze crown with crimson cap.

The Royal Irish Rifles. The Harp surmounted by the Crown in Bronze. On the scroll the legend “Quis Seperabit”. On the boss the Sphinx over Egypt; below a stringed bugle.

The Rifle Brigade (Price Consort’s Own).  A bronze bugle horn. Above, on the boss, a bronze crown.

There were​ several minor changes made to some regiments insignia before 1902 that do not warrant a specific image but are descibed below.

The following regiments had “Regt.” Changed to “Regiment” on their universal scrolls. The actual dates are not certain but all before 1902.
East Yorkshire Regiment, The East Surrey Regiment, The Sussex Regiment, The Hampshire Regiment and the Middlesex Regiment.

The following regiments had the Castle and Key redesigned in accordance with War Office Instructions in 1900. The new castle was similar in style to the one shown in the Suffolk Regiment Plate;
The Dorsetshire Regiment, The Essex Regiment and The Northamptonshire Regiment.

The coronet on The Prince of Wales’s Plume worn by the Cheshire Regiment and the Leinster Regiment were altered to gilt or gilding metal before 1900.

​Next:  Changes to Waist Plates