|Admiral of the Fleet|
|Service branch||Royal Navy|
|Rank group||Flag officer|
|NATO rank code||OF-10|
|Next lower rank||Admiral|
Admiral of the Fleet is a five-star naval officer rank and the highest rank of the Royal Navy formally established in 1688.The five-star NATO rank code is OF-10, equivalent to a field marshal in the British Army or a Marshal of the Royal Air Force. Other than honorary appointments, no new admirals of the fleet have been named since 1995, and no honorary appointments have been made since 2014.
The origins of the rank can be traced back to John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp de Warwick, who was appointed 'Admiral of the King's Southern, Northern and Western Fleets' on 18 July 1360.The appointment gave the command of the English navy to one person for the first time; this evolved into the post of Admiral of the Fleet. In the days of sailing ships the admiral distinctions then used by the Royal Navy included distinctions related to the fleet being divided into three divisions – red, white, or blue. Each division was assigned at least one admiral, who in turn commanded a number of vice-admirals and rear admirals. While the full admirals were nominally equals, tradition gave precedence to the Admiral of the White who held the fleet rank in addition to his substantive role.
The Restoration era brought a general reorganisation of naval ranks and structure, including formalisation of the admiral of the fleet role. In a break with tradition the rank was awarded to the most senior Admiral of the Red, who retained this substantive rank while also serving as Admiral of the Fleet. Appointments were for life, remunerated via a £5 daily stipend and an annual allowance of £1,014 for the hiring and maintenance of servants. It was intended that only one officer would hold the rank at any time, with their presence aboard any naval vessel to be denoted by the flying of the Royal Standard from the main mast.
The ranks of Admiral of the Fleet and Admiral of the Red were formally separated from 1805, with an announcement in the London Gazette that "His Majesty [has] been pleased to order the Rank of Admirals of the Red to be restored" 's promotion as a second Field Marshal in the British Army. In 1830 King William IV increased the number of admirals of the fleet to three, though these additional lifetime postings subsequently lapsed. Between 1854 and 1857 there was no admiral of the fleet at all as the most senior naval officer of the time – Admiral of the Red Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin – was mentally ill and had not served at sea for forty-five years. In deference to Gosselin's seniority the position was instead left vacant until his death in 1857, whereupon it was filled by Admiral Charles Ogle.in His Majesty's Navy..." as a separate role. The same Gazette promoted 22 men to that rank. From the nineteenth century onward there were also occasional variations to the previous requirement that only one Admiral of Fleet could serve at one time. In 1821 George IV appointed Sir John Jervis as a second admiral of the fleet, to balance the Duke of Wellington
In practice the rank had lost its formal authority from 1828, when the professional head of the Royal Navy was given the title of First Naval Lord (renamed First Sea Lord in 1904). Thereafter it was periodically granted to retiring First Naval Lords as an honorary promotion, only passing to the most senior Admiral if there was no other candidate. On occasion even this seniority principle was abandoned, as on the death of Provo Wallis in 1892 when the promotion went to John Edmund Commerell rather than the senior Algernon Frederick Rous de Horsey.
The organisation of the British fleet into coloured squadrons was abandoned in 1864, though the rank of admiral of the fleet was maintained. During the two World Wars a number of serving officers held active commissions as admirals of the fleet, as well as the First Sea Lord. e.g. Sir John Tovey.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was created an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1954, following the coronation of his wife Elizabeth II as Queen. This promotion was to a New Zealand rank, separate from the Royal Navy rank.
Following the creation of the Chief of the Defence Staff in 1959, the five naval officers appointed to that position became admirals of the fleet. Recognizing the reduced post–Cold War size of the British Armed Forces, no further appointments were made to the rank after 1995 when Sir Benjamin Bathurst was appointed admiral of the fleet on his retirement as First Sea Lord. The rank was not abolished and in 2012 the Prince of Wales (now King Charles III) became an honorary admiral of the fleet (as well as field marshal and marshal of the Royal Air Force), in recognition of his support to Queen Elizabeth II in her role of as Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. In 2014, Lord Boyce, a former First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff, was also appointed an honorary admiral of the fleet.
|1688|| George Legge |
(later Baron Dartmouth)
|1690|| Edward Russell |
(later Earl of Orford)
|1696||Sir George Rooke||1650||1709||circa|
|13 January 1705||Sir Cloudesley Shovell||1650||1707|
|8 January 1708||Sir John Leake||1656||1720|
|21 December 1708||Sir Stafford Fairborne||1666||1742||circa|
|12 November 1709||Sir Matthew Aylmer||1650||1720|
|14 March 1718||Sir George Byng |
(later Viscount Torrington)
|20 February 1734||Sir John Norris||1670||1749|
|1 July 1749||Sir Chaloner Ogle||1681||1750|
|22 November 1751||James Steuart||1690||1757|
|March 1757||George Clinton||1686||1761|
|30 July 1761||The Lord Anson||1697||1762|
|17 December 1762||Sir William Rowley||1690||1768||circa|
|15 January 1768||Sir Edward Hawke |
(later Lord Hawke)
|24 October 1781||John Forbes||1714||1796|
|12 March 1796||The Earl Howe||1726||1799|
|16 September 1799||Sir Peter Parker||1721||1811|
|24 December 1811||The Duke of Clarence and St Andrews |
(later King William IV)
|19 July 1821||The Earl of St Vincent||1735||1823||acting from May 1814|
|28 June 1830||William Williams-Freeman||1742||1832|
|22 July 1830||The Lord Gambier||1756||1833|
|22 July 1830||Sir Charles Pole||1757||1830|
|24 April 1833||Sir Charles Nugent||1759||1844|
|8 January 1844||Sir James Hawkins-Whitshed||1762||1849|
|9 November 1846||Sir George Martin||1764||1847|
|13 October 1849||Sir Thomas Byam Martin||1773||1854|
|1 July 1851||Sir George Cockburn||1772||1853|
|8 December 1857||Sir Charles Ogle||1775||1858|
|25 June 1858||Sir John West||1774||1862|
|20 May 1862||Sir William Gage||1777||1864|
|10 November 1862||Sir Graham Hamond||1779||1862|
|27 April 1863||Sir Francis Austen||1774||1865|
|27 April 1863||Sir William Parker||1781||1866|
|11 January 1864||Sir Lucius Curtis||1786||1869|
|12 September 1865||Sir Thomas Cochrane||1789||1872|
|30 November 1866||Sir George Seymour||1787||1870|
|30 January 1868||Sir James Gordon||1782||1869||on the Retired List|
|15 January 1869||Sir William Bowles||1780||1869|
|2 July 1869||Sir George Sartorius||1790||1885|
|21 January 1870||Sir Fairfax Moresby||1786||1877|
|20 October 1872||Sir Houston Stewart||1791||1875|
|11 December 1875||Sir Provo Wallis||1791||1892|
|22 January 1877||Sir Henry Codrington||1808||1877|
|5 August 1877||Sir Henry Keppel||1809||1904|
|27 December 1877||The Earl of Lauderdale||1803||1878|
|27 December 1877||Sir Rodney Mundy||1805||1884|
|15 June 1879||Sir James Hope||1808||1881|
|15 June 1879||Sir Thomas Symonds||1813||1894|
|10 June 1881||Sir Alexander Milne, Bt.||1806||1896||on the Retired List|
|1 December 1881||Sir Charles Elliot||1818||1895|
|29 April 1885||Sir Alfred Ryder||1820||1888|
|18 July 1887||The Prince of Wales |
(later King Edward VII)
|1841||1910||honorary to non-Navy royalty|
|1 May 1888||Sir Geoffrey Hornby||1825||1895|
|8 December 1888||Lord John Hay||1827||1916||First Sea Lord 1886|
|2 August 1889||HIM German Emperor William II||1859||1941||honorary, to foreign royalty|
|13 February 1892||Sir John Commerell||1829||1901|
|3 June 1893||The Duke of Edinburgh |
(later Duke Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
|20 February 1895||The Earl of Clanwilliam||1832||1907|
|23 August 1897||Sir Algernon Lyons||1833||1908|
|29 November 1898||Sir Frederick Richards||1833||1912||First Sea Lord 1893–1899|
|13 January 1899||Sir Nowell Salmon||1835||1912|
|3 October 1902||Sir James Erskine||1838||1911|
|30 August 1903||Sir Charles Hotham||1843||1925|
|16 June 1904||Lord Walter Kerr||1839||1927||First Sea Lord 1899–1904|
|20 February 1905||Sir Edward Seymour||1840||1929|
|5 December 1905||Sir John Fisher |
(later Lord Fisher)
|1841||1920||First Sea Lord 1905–1910 and 1914–1915|
|1 March 1907||Sir Arthur Wilson||1842||1921||First Sea Lord 1910–1911|
|11 June 1908||HIM Tsar Nicholas II of Russia||1868||1918||honorary, to foreign royalty|
|2 December 1908||Sir Gerard Noel||1845||1918|
|27 January 1910||Prince Henry of Prussia||1862||1929||honorary, to foreign royalty|
|30 April 1910||Sir Arthur Fanshawe||1847||1936|
|6 May 1910||King George V||1865||1936|
|20 March 1913||Sir William May||1849||1930|
|5 March 1915||Sir Hedworth Meux||1856||1929|
|2 April 1917||Sir George Callaghan||1852||1920|
|3 April 1919||The Viscount Jellicoe |
(later Earl Jellicoe)
|1859||1935||First Sea Lord 1916–1918|
|3 April 1919||Sir David Beatty |
(later Earl Beatty)
|1871||1936||First Sea Lord 1919–1927|
|31 July 1919||Sir Henry Jackson||1855||1929||First Sea Lord 1915–1916|
|1 November 1919||Sir Rosslyn Wemyss |
(later Lord Wester Wemyss)
|1864||1933||First Sea Lord 1918–1919|
|24 November 1920||Sir Cecil Burney, Bt.||1858||1929|
|5 July 1921||Sir Doveton Sturdee, Bt.||1859||1925|
|19 August 1921||The Marquess of Milford Haven||1854||1921||First Sea Lord 1912–1914. On the Retired List|
|31 July 1924||Sir Charles Madden, Bt.||1862||1935||First Sea Lord 1927–1930|
|8 May 1925||Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe||1864||1937|
|24 November 1925||Sir John de Robeck, Bt.||1862||1928|
|21 January 1928||Sir Henry Oliver||1865||1965|
|31 July 1929||Sir Osmond Brock||1869||1947|
|8 May 1930||Sir Roger Keyes, Bt. |
(later Lord Keyes)
|21 January 1933||Sir Frederick Field||1871||1945||First Sea Lord 1930–1933|
|31 July 1934||Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt, Bt.||1870||1951|
|8 May 1935||Sir Ernle Chatfield |
(later Lord Chatfield)
|1873||1967||First Sea Lord 1933–1938|
|21 January 1936||Edward VIIIKing||1894||1972|
|12 July 1936||Sir John Kelly||1871||1936|
|11 December 1936||George VIKing||1895||1952|
|21 January 1938||The Earl of Cork and Orrery||1873||1967|
|7 July 1939||Sir Roger Backhouse||1878||1939||First Sea Lord 1938–1939|
|31 July 1939||Sir Dudley Pound||1877||1943||First Sea Lord 1939–1943|
|8 May 1940||Sir Charles Forbes||1880||1960|
|21 January 1943||Sir Andrew Cunningham |
(later Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope)
|1883||1963||First Sea Lord 1943–1946|
|22 October 1943||Sir John Tovey |
(later Lord Tovey)
|8 May 1945||Sir James Somerville||1882||1949|
|21 January 1948||Sir John Cunningham||1885||1965||First Sea Lord 1946–1948|
|22 October 1948||The Lord Fraser of North Cape||1888||1981||First Sea Lord 1948–1951|
|20 March 1949||Sir Algernon Willis||1889||1976|
|22 April 1952||Sir Arthur Power||1889||1960|
|1 June 1952||Sir Philip Vian||1894||1968|
|15 January 1953||The Duke of Edinburgh||1921||2021||Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom 2011–2021|
|1 May 1953||Sir Rhoderick McGrigor||1893||1959||First Sea Lord 1951–1955|
|22 April 1955||Sir George Creasy||1895||1972|
|22 October 1956||The Earl Mountbatten of Burma||1900||1979||First Sea Lord 1955–1959 Chief of the Defence Staff 1959–1965|
|10 May 1960||Sir Charles Lambe||1900||1960||First Sea Lord 1959–1960|
|23 May 1962||Sir Caspar John||1903||1984||First Sea Lord 1960–1963|
|12 August 1968||Sir Varyl Begg||1908||1995||First Sea Lord 1966–1968|
|30 June 1970||Sir Michael Le Fanu||1913||1970||First Sea Lord 1968–1970|
|12 March 1971||Sir Peter Hill-Norton |
(later Lord Hill-Norton)
|1915||2004||First Sea Lord 1970–1971 Chief of the Defence Staff 1971–73|
|1 March 1974||Sir Michael Pollock||1916||2006||First Sea Lord 1971–1974|
|9 February 1977||Sir Edward Ashmore||1919||2016||First Sea Lord 1977-1977 Chief of the Defence Staff 1977|
|6 July 1979||Sir Terence Lewin |
(later Lord Lewin)
|1920||1999||First Sea Lord 1977–1979 Chief of the Defence Staff 1979–1982|
|1 December 1982||Sir Henry Leach||1923||2011||First Sea Lord 1979–1982|
|2 August 1985||Sir John Fieldhouse |
(later Lord Fieldhouse)
|1928||1992||First Sea Lord 1982–1985 Chief of the Defence Staff 1985–1988|
|12 April 1988||King Olav V of Norway||1903||1991||honorary, to foreign royalty|
|25 May 1989||Sir William Staveley||1928||1997||First Sea Lord 1985–1989|
|2 March 1993||Sir Julian Oswald||1933||2011||First Sea Lord 1989–1993|
|10 July 1995||Sir Benjamin Bathurst||1936||Living||First Sea Lord 1993–1995|
|16 June 2012||The Prince of Wales (later King Charles III)||1948||Living|
|13 June 2014||The Lord Boyce||1943||2022||Chief of the Defence Staff 2001–2003. Honorary rank|
Admiral of the Fleet Peter John Hill-Norton, Baron Hill-Norton, was a senior Royal Navy officer. He fought in the Second World War as gunnery officer in a cruiser operating on the Western Approaches and in the North Sea taking part in the Norwegian Campaign, then in a cruiser taking part in the Arctic convoys and finally in a battleship operating in the Eastern Fleet. After the War he commanded a destroyer and then an aircraft carrier. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff and then Chief of the Defence Staff in early 1970s. In the latter role he gave the final commitment to Project Chevaline, the Polaris missile improvement programme. He went on to be Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.
Admiral of the Fleet Bruce Austin Fraser, 1st Baron Fraser of North Cape, was a senior Royal Navy officer. He served in the First World War, saw action during the Gallipoli Campaign and took part in the internment of the German High Seas Fleet at the end of the war. He also served in the Second World War initially as Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy and then as second-in-command and afterwards as commander of the Home Fleet, leading the force that destroyed the German battleship Scharnhorst. He went on to be First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in which role he assisted in establishing NATO and agreed to the principle that the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic should be an American admiral, in the face of fierce British opposition.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) is the professional head of the Royal Air Force and a member of both the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Air Force Board. The post was created in 1918 with Major General Sir Hugh Trenchard as the first incumbent. The current and 30th Chief of the Air Staff is Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston, who succeeded Sir Stephen Hillier in July 2019.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Michael Le Fanu was a Royal Navy officer. He fought in the Second World War as gunnery officer in a cruiser operating in the Home Fleet during the Norwegian campaign and the Battle of the Mediterranean and then as gunnery officer in a battleship operating in the Eastern Fleet before becoming liaison officer between the British Pacific Fleet and the United States Third Fleet. After the War he commanded a frigate, a training establishment and an aircraft carrier. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in the late 1960s. In that role, in the face of economic difficulties, he worked hard to reshape the Navy as an anti-submarine force operating primarily in the Atlantic Ocean.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon McLennan Lyons was a senior Royal Navy officer who served as First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to Queen Victoria.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Reginald Yorke Tyrwhitt, 1st Baronet, was a Royal Navy officer. During the First World War he served as commander of the Harwich Force. He led a supporting naval force of 31 destroyers and two cruisers at the Battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914, in which action the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron under Sir David Beatty sank three German cruisers and one German destroyer with minimal loss of allied warships. Tyrwhitt also led the British naval forces during the Cuxhaven Raid in December 1914, when British seaplanes destroyed German Zeppelin airships and at the Battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915, in which action Tyrwhitt again supported Beatty's powerful battlecruiser squadron.
Admiral of the Fleet Terence Thornton Lewin, Baron Lewin, was a Royal Navy officer. He served in the Second World War and then commanded a destroyer, the Royal yacht, two frigates and an aircraft carrier before achieving higher command. He was First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in the late 1970s and in that role he worked hard to secure a decent wage for servicemen and helped win them a 32% pay rise. He went on to be Chief of the Defence Staff during the Falklands War, serving as chief war planner and as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's chief advisor during the war. He was also the first Chief of Defence Staff to act as head of the Armed Forces rather than just Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alfred Dudley Pickman Rogers Pound, was a British senior officer of the Royal Navy. He served in the First World War as a battleship commander, taking part in the Battle of Jutland with notable success, contributing to the sinking of the German cruiser Wiesbaden. He served as First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy, for the first four years of the Second World War. In that role his greatest achievement was his successful campaign against the German U-boats and the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic but his judgment has been questioned over the failed Norwegian Campaign in 1940, and his dismissal of Admiral Dudley North in 1940. His order in July 1942 to disperse Convoy PQ 17 and withdraw its covering forces, to counter a threat from heavy German surface ships, led to its destruction by submarines and aircraft. His health failed in 1943 and he resigned, dying shortly thereafter.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Francis Oliver, was a Royal Navy officer. After serving in the Second Boer War as a navigating officer in a cruiser on the Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa Station, he became the first commanding officer of the new navigation school HMS Mercury in the early years of the 20th century. He went to be commanding officer first of the armoured cruiser HMS Achilles and then of the new battleship HMS Thunderer before becoming Director of the Intelligence Division at the Admiralty.
George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth PC was an English Royal Navy officer, who was appointed Admiral of the Fleet by James II in September 1688. However, he failed to intercept the invasion force under William III that landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688 and was dismissed following the Glorious Revolution.
Admiral of the Fleet Lord Walter Talbot Kerr, was a Royal Navy officer. After taking part in the Crimean War and then the Indian Mutiny, he supervised the handover of Ulcinj to Montenegro to allow Montenegro an outlet to the sea in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Berlin. He became Flag Captain to the Commander-in-Chief, Channel Squadron and then Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet. He went on to be Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet, then Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron and finally became First Naval Lord. In that capacity he presided over a period of continued re-armament in the face of German naval expansion but was unceasingly harassed by Admiral Sir John Fisher.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Caspar John was a senior Royal Navy officer who served as First Sea Lord from 1960 to 1963. He was a pioneer in the Fleet Air Arm and fought in the Second World War in a cruiser taking part in the Atlantic convoys, participating in the Norwegian campaign and transporting arms around the Cape of Good Hope to Egypt for use in the western desert campaign. His war service continued as Director-General of Naval Aircraft Production, as naval air attaché at the British embassy in Washington D.C. and then as Commanding Officer of two aircraft carriers. He went on to serve as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in the early 1960s. In that capacity he was primarily concerned with plans for the building of the new CVA-01 aircraft-carriers.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Edward Lambe, was a senior Royal Navy officer. He fought in the Second World War in command of a cruiser, as Director of Naval Plans and then in command of an aircraft carrier. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff from 1959 until 1960 when he was forced to retire early because of a heart condition. He died only a few months later.
Admiral Sir Sydney Colpoys Dacres was an officer of the Royal Navy who saw service during the Greek War of Independence, when he was involved in an attack on the Turkish forces at Morea, and later during the Crimean War. Born into a substantial naval dynasty during the Napoleonic Wars, he eventually rose to the rank of Admiral and became First Naval Lord. His only significant action as First Naval Lord was to press for the abolition of masts. He went on to be Visitor and Governor of Greenwich Hospital.
Admiral Sir Dudley Burton Napier North, was a Royal Navy officer who served during First and Second World Wars.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Henry May was a Royal Navy Officer. As a junior officer he took part an expedition to rescue Commander Albert Markham who had got into difficulty trying to reach the North Pole via Smith Sound, the sea passage between Greenland and Canada's northernmost island, Ellesmere Island.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon Usborne Willis was a Royal Navy officer. He served in the First World War and saw action at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. He also served in the Second World War as Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic in which capacity he led actions against German and Japanese raiding ships. He continued his war service as Flag Officer commanding 3rd Battle Squadron and Second in command of the Eastern Fleet and then as Flag Officer commanding Force H, the force which covered North African Operations, the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and then the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943. He spent the final years of the war as Commander-in-Chief, Levant, in which capacity he conducted naval operations in support of the Dodecanese Campaign, and then as Second Sea Lord, in which capacity he arranged the manpower for the campaign in the Pacific Ocean against the Imperial Japanese Navy. After the war he served as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, in which role he was faced with unrest in Mandatory Palestine, before he became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Rowley KB was a Royal Navy officer. He distinguished himself by his determination as commander of the vanguard at the Battle of Toulon in February 1744 during the War of the Austrian Succession. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in August 1744 and successfully kept the Spanish and French fleets out of the Mediterranean area but was relieved of his command following criticism of his decision as presiding officer at a court-martial.
Admiral Sir Robert Harland, 1st Baronet was a Royal Navy officer. He commanded HMS Tilbury at the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in October 1747 during the War of the Austrian Succession and commanded HMS Princess Louisa at the Battle of Lagos in August 1759 during the Seven Years' War. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies Station and then First Naval Lord.
Eastman's Royal Naval Academy, originally in Southsea and later at Winchester, both in England, was a preparatory school. Between 1855 and 1923 it was known primarily as a school that prepared boys for entry to the Royal Navy. Thereafter, it was renamed Eastman's Preparatory School and continued until the 1940s. According to Jonathan Betts, it was "considered one of the top schools for boys intended for the Navy".