Military Aiguillettes are a type of decorative braiding used on military uniforms to denote rank and status. This ornamental braid is usually made of gold or silver thread that is twisted into intricate patterns, with the ends tied off in a looped knot. The purpose of these ornaments is to identify the wearer’s rank and specialties within the armed forces, as well as their service branch. Wearing an Aiguillette also indicates that the individual has undergone certain training and holds certain privileges associated with their position. In this article, we will explore what an Aiguillette is, its history and its use today by different branches of military services around the world.
Aiguillettes distinguish special and senior appointments, such as Army officers of General rank, Chief of Army, Deputy Chief of Army, members of the Chief of Army’s Senior Advisory Committee, Military Attaché and Aide-de-camp.
The origin of the Aiguillette dates back to the 17th century when it was worn by officers in the French army as a decorative symbol. Over time, other countries adopted this style and began using their own versions for different branches and services within the military. Today, Aiguillettes are most commonly associated with officers in the British Army.
Further accounts of the origin is that the Aiguillette denotes the rope and pickets carried by the squires to tether their knights’ horses.
Another authority has it that they were ‘aiguilles’ or needles for clearing the touch hole of very old muskets and that the cords were originally lanyards, which fastened the needles to the soldiers’ equipment.
It is also suggested that the Aiguillette represents the Provost Marshall’s rope with which he hanged defaulters.
The most probable explanation is that they were the pins used to secure a cauldron, or shoulder protector, on the cuirass (a piece of armour) of a knight or cuirassier’s plate armour.
Another position on the origin of the Aiguillette is that they represent the pencil that every good Staff Officer had at hand, tied to his person by a piece of string. The Aiguillette of the Japanese is in fact adapted for use as a pencil.
The design of an Aiguillette is often symbolic and unique to each branch of service. For example, air force aiguillettes are usually blue and gold, while navy aiguillettes are typically dark blue or black with silver accents. Aiguillettes are also worn for formal occasions, such as state and royal visits, or to denote special achievements, such as the award of a medal.
Military Aiguillettes are an important part of military uniforms and provide visual recognition and status, both in service and in civilian life. They signify respect and admiration for the wearer and serve as a reminder of their commitment to service. The wearing of an Aiguillette is, therefore, a great honour and an important symbol of rank within the military forces around the world.
The Governor-General of Australia, as the Commander in Chief of the Australian Defence Force, is also entitled to wear a uniform on which an Aiguillette made of platinum is worn.