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Colonel In Chief



Past and present Colonels In Chief of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps with a descritption of the role in the British Army


The first Colonel-in-Chief of the QARANC was Her Majesty Queen Mary in 1949. Before this she was the President of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) and the QAIMNS(R) the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserves which was the earlier British army nursing service. When the new nursing corps formed Her Majesty Queen Mary retained her position which was renamed from President to Colonel-in-Chief to reflect the new corp status.


As President of the QAIMNS Her Majesty Queen Mary wrote the forward to Grey and scarlet : letters from the war areas by army sisters on active service.


The book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing has a collection of paintings and photographs of the Presidents and Colonels in Chief of the QAIMNS and QARANC.



Nurses Memorial Chapel

In November 1950 the Nurses Memorial Chapel in the Jesus Chapel in Westminster Abbey was unveiled and dedicated in a ceremony with Queen Mary in attendance. The Dean of Westminster dedicated the Chapel to the Glory of God (cited in the book Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (Famous Regts. S) by Juliet Piggott).


On the death of Her Majesty Queen Mary on the 24 March 1953 the QAs were without a Colonel in Chief.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret (Countess of Snowdon) became the Colonel-in-Chief of the QARANC on the 28 September 1954. She served until her death on 9 February 2002.


Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret the Colonel-in-Chief of the QARANC can be seen on the left of the photo below during an official engagement.

Colonel in Chief QARANC Princess Margaret


Twelve QAs were given the honour of attending the wedding of their Colonel in Chief Princess Margaret to Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones on the 6 May 1960. This included the Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army) Dame Monica Johnson and the Colonel Commandant Dame Helen Gillespie. The Corps wedding gift was a pair of 1829 meat dishes and a pair of 1816 silver sauceboats. The QA Association gave their Patron the gift of a Coalport tea service and a set of silver and enamel teaspoons.

The late Princess Margaret, the Colonel in Chief of the QAs from 1954 to 2002, received a musical toast on dinner nights. This was always after the loyal toast. This tradition ended when she died. HRH The Countess of Wessex, the current Colonel-in-Chief, receives the first eight bars of the national anthem (with thanks to Terry Hissey).




Forces War Records

Forces War Records are a genealogy site where you can find military records of over 6 million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments, Bases and Ships. This link includes a free search and a special discount of 40% off membership offer for visitors who use the discount code AF40 if they decide to become a member.
Search Now. A unique feature is their WW1 Soldiers Medical Records section.


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HRH The Countess of Wessex

HRH The Countess of Wessex The third and current Colonel-in-Chief of the QARANC is HRH The Countess of Wessex (Sophie Wessex). She took over the role on the 1 July 2003.

The picture to the left shows HRH The Countess of Wessex cutting the QA Association 60th anniversary cake.


Patron of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Association


The Countess of Wessex is also the Patron of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Association.


What Is A Colonel-In-Chief?


Each regiment and most corps of the British army have their own Colonel-In-Chief. The role is usually filled by a member of the Royal Family.



The Roles Of A Colonel-In-Chief



The Colonel-In-Chief is not normally an active member of the army and does not have an operational role. The Colonel-In-Chief does take an active interest in their regiment or corp and will be kept informed of news, changes, events, top promotions, awards and important activities of their regiment or corp. Colonel-In-Chiefs will frequently visit the various training depots and units of their regiments and corps. This can include key events such as at the award of medals such as the Royal Red Cross, passing out parades, unit inspections and the promotion of high level officers.

The Colonel-in-Chief is as the Patron of the QA Association.


President of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service

When the Army Nursing Service (ANS) became the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) in 1902 The President was Queen Alexandra. Her Majesty Queen Alexandra remained in post until her death on the 20 November 1925.

From 1926 until 1949 the President of the QAIMNS and the Territorial Army Nursing Service (TANS) was Her Majesty Queen Mary, the daughter in law of Queen Alexandria. She was also the Commandant in Chief of the newly formed QARANC from 1949 to 1950 and then became the Colonel in Chief until 1953.






In the Company of Nurses: The History of the British Army Nursing Service in the Great War by Yvonne McEwen is the authorised history of the British Army Nursing Service in the Great War. It has been compiled from war diaries, journals, official documents and unpublished unofficial documents to tell the story of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) during the First World War. This is a must for anyone with an interest in the QAs. More Information.



If you would like to contribute to this page, suggest changes or inclusions to this website or would like to send me a photograph then please e-mail me.



Official QARANC webpage.

QA Association website.


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