HC Deb 03 April 1894 vol 22 cc1243-4
MR. MUNTZ (Warwickshire, Tamworth)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether, as a general rule, the wearing of the white ensign is reserved to Her Majesty's ships alone, or whether the Admiralty are in the habit of granting warrants to private persons authorising them to wear the white ensign on private ships; whether such warrant are personal to those to whom they are granted, and whether they authorise the wearing of the white ensign by the ship in the absence there from of the person named in the warrant; whether these warrants are granted to such persons on account of their personal position or public services; or, if not, on what other grounds; whether they are ever granted to other persons than British subjects; whether any misapprehension or inconvenience has arisen at the Dardanelles or elsewhere abroad through the wearing of the white ensign by private ships causing them to be taken for British men of war; and whether the Admiralty will consider the propriety of refraining henceforth from issuing warrants to private persons to wear the white ensign, and of withdrawing those warrants already issued?


The white ensign is, as a general rule, reserved for Her Majesty's ships, and warrants are not granted to private persons. The exceptional privilege enjoyed by the Royal Yacht Squadron was conferred on that Club in 1829 by a general warrant, and a personal warrant is issued to each yacht owner in the Club who is a British subject for his convenience; this warrant neither authorises nor forbids the wearing of the white ensign when the owner is 7rot on board. As a special case, the German Emperor was granted a warrant in July, 1891, as owner of a yacht in the Royal Yacht Squadron. In 1883 Lord Annesley's yacht, the Seabird, was detained by the Turkish Authorities at the Dardanelles consequent on her wearing the white ensign, Lord Annesley being a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. On account of this, all yacht owners were warned that should they wish to pass the Dardanelles under the white or blue ensigns they must first obtain an Imperial Iradé, otherwise they were recommended to wear the plain red ensign. There is no intention of taking action in the sense suggested by the final paragraph of the question.