Why do Troops Salute

British Salute American Salute

Why do Troops Salute

Salutes are primarily used in the Armed Forces to show respect. There are numerous methods for performing the salute including: hand gestures, rifle shots, hoisting flags and the removal of headgear. The salute is to acknowledge the Queen’s commission. The subordinate salutes first and holds it until their superior has responded.

It is thought that the salute originated when knights greeted each other to show friendly intention by lifting their visor to show their faces. Medieval visors were equipped with a spike which allowed the visor to be lifted in a saluting motion.

A British order book in 1745 stated that ‘The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass.’ This, overtime, evolved into a modern salute.

The naval salute is a different gesture, again, as sailors salute with their palm downwards. This is said to be because naval ratings usually had dirty hands. The British Army and Royal Air Force salute has been given with the right-hand palm facing forwards since 1917 and was given with the hand furthest from the person being saluted.

View the videos below to see how a salute is done in the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and British Army.

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