In military terms, “Colours” refers to …”consecrated ceremonial flags carried by designated Canadian Armed Forces combatant formations and units, including Standards, Guidons, Queen’s Colours, and Command, Regimental and Military College Colours…” (DHH: The Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces)
These flags are considered to be …”a unit’s most prized possession. They are presented personally by the Sovereign or by an individual acting on behalf of the Sovereign – usually the Governor General.
Historically, Colours marked and provided a rallying point for army regiments in the line of battle. Today, they are no longer carried in action but they continue to be visible symbols of pride, honour and devotion to Sovereign and country….” (DHH: The Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces)
The Royal Air Force (RAF) didn’t issue Colours until after WWII. With minor exceptions, the RCAF adopted the same approach as the RAF, followed the principles laid down by the British Army.
The RCAF was the first of the… “Royal Air Forces to be granted… the privilege of carrying the King’s Colour. The King’s Colour and RCAF Colour were consecrated and presented in the name of King George VI on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, on June 5, 1950 (the King’s birthday) by the Governor-General, Viscount Alexander of Tunis.
After Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, the King’s Colour was called the Queen’s Colour, even though it had the King’s crown at the centre.
At that time, the RCAF chose to have its King’s Colour designed in the army tradition: the Union Flag (informally known as the Union Jack) with the Royal Cypher in the centre….
The RCAF Colour was a light blue flag bearing the current badge of the RCAF – an eagle with its wings outspread – in the centre and a golden maple leaf in each corner. Given the size of the RCAF in the 1950s and its global responsibilities, three stands (pairs) of Colours were approved: two for use in Canada and one residing with 1 Canadian Air Division in Europe.
As airmen and airwomen serve, grow old, and retire, so too do a formation’s Colours.
A new stand of Colours, whose design conformed to new Canadian Armed Forces policy, was presented to Air Command on July 31, 1982 by Governor General Edward Schreyer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Queen’s Colour carried the name ‘Air Command’ on a maple leaf flag and the Command flag had the Air Command badge at its centre, portraying an eagle flying upwards from a crown.
In accordance with tradition and policy, the 1950 Colours were retired or laid up…” (RCAF)
On September 1, 2017, the RCAF “… received its third ‘stand’ of Colours from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada… The stand consists of two Colours. The Queen’s Colour, a Canadian maple leaf flag with the Sovereign’s cypher in the centre, symbolizes loyalty to the Crown. The Command Colour, a blue flag with the RCAF’s badge at the centre, symbolizes the RCAF’s pride, cohesion and valour.
This once-in-a-generation event was marked by a parade, the presentation and consecration of the new Colours, and flypast of historical and current RCAF aircraft…” (RCAF). The following image shows the aircraft involved: