How to Salute (UK Armed Forces): 6 Steps (with Pictures)

The salute is a sign of respect, thought to date back to Roman times or medieval Europe.[1] In the UK, saluting the Armed Forces is considered a mark of tradition for individuals within the Armed Forces.

Method 1 of 2:

Doing the Royal Air Force and Army Salute

  1. 1

    Understand the salute is done on the behalf of the Queen. When an officer salutes another officer in the UK Armed Forces, he is in effect saluting Her Majesty the Queen. So, if a subordinate airman salutes an officer, the officer will return the salute on behalf of the Queen.

  2. 2

    Salute with your right hand and an open palm.

    Officers in the Royal Air Force and the Army both salute the same way. When RAF and Army personnel do a hand salute, they display an open hand. They position their right hand so their fingertips almost touch the band of their hat.

    • The RAF and the Army do not wear white gloves as part of their uniform, so they will salute with their palm facing forward.
  3. 3

    Acknowledge your superiors with a salute.

    Taking the word “salute” literally, it is a way of offering a salutation or a greeting. In the military, you must show respect by saluting your superiors, and your superiors must reciprocate by saluting you.

    • If you are not sure who is your superior officer based on your rank, you can use this chart here to determine who you should be saluting in the RAF and the Army. In the RAF, a Corporal will always salute an Air Marshal, for example, and in the Army a Private will always salute a Major.

Method 2 of 2:

Doing the Navy Salute

  1. 1

    Understand the origins of the Navy salute.

    In the 1800s, naval officers would salute by raising their cap or by touching the brim of their cap with their index finger and thumb. This became the standard Navy salute, done with the right hand. The salute was done with the hand at a diagonal to prevent exposing the palm, as naval officers did not want to show their tar-stained hands to their superiors.

    [2]

    • In the Navy, officers can salute with their left hand if their right hand is engaged or occupied.
  2. 2

    Salute with your right hand and your palm facing down, towards your shoulder.

    Make sure your forearm and hand stay in a straight line. Tilt your hand so your palm does not show as you salute. Keep your hand to the side of your face, just below your cap.

    [3]

  3. 3

    Acknowledge your superiors with a salute.

    The word “salute” means to offer a salutation or a greeting. In the military, you must show respect by saluting your superiors, and your superiors must reciprocate by saluting you.

    • If you are not sure who is your superior officer based on your rank, you can use this chart here to determine who you should be saluting in the Navy. For example, in the Navy, a Petty Officer will always salute a Lieutenant.

Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    What is the position of a military salute?

    The position is standing upright with arm bent up and hand to the forehead.

  • Question

    What British regiment salutes left handed?

    None. Every regiment in the army salutes with the right hand, same in the air force and royal marines.

  • Question

    Which service is senior when saluting in the UK armed forces?

    Royal Navy. However, the most senior officer regardless of branch should be the person saluted.

  • Question

    Do I salute an officer sitting at his desk without his cap on?

    You are expected to salute them, but they do not salute you back, as they are not wearing headdress.

  • Question

    Do I use the left or right hand to salute?

  • Question

    If a serving soldier’s right hand/arm is disabled in any way, or even missing, how then can they offer a salute to a superior?

    If their right hand is disabled, they would salute using their left hand. However, if both hands were disabled, like when not wearing a cap, they would brace up. If they were not able to brace up due to further injuries, they would not be expected to offer a salute due to injury.

  • Question

    Can a military salute without cap?

    No, they can’t. Generally you just stand to attention. This covers every service.

  • Question

    Why are there different salutes?

    Bram Meijer

    Community Answer

    The Navy, Army, Air Force and military police have been separated from one another during wars in the past, and invented different salutes.

  • Question

    Do I need to salute a non-commissioned officer for any reason?

    Yes. Once you outrank them and they pay the complement, you are duty-bound to return the salute.

  • Question

    Which ranks should be saluted?

    All commissioned officers. Do not salute warrant/petty officers, but do address them as «Sir.»

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Tips

  • Civilians are not required to salute. It’s a gesture typically reserved for uniformed individuals.

    [4]

About This Article

Article SummaryX

To salute the UK Royal Air Force or Army, you’ll want to raise your right hand to your right temple with your palm facing forward and your fingers together. This is used to greet your superiors and show your respect. To salute superiors in the Navy, raise your right hand to your right temple, but keep your palm facing down. Make sure your elbow is in line with your hand. Like the Royal Air Force and Army, the Navy salute is used to demonstrate respect for your superiors. For more tips, including how to work out which ranks you should salute in the UK armed forces, read on!

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