The AFL Anzac Australia Day Medal, made in Melbourne by George H. Lilley Regalia - Craig Borrow / Newspix

Regalia, Regalia Everywhere!

As mentioned on our ‘About Us’ page, few of us are aware that regalia is in fact around us much of the time.

Regalia can have significant meaning to society and communities across many cultures. Regalia can also carry immense personal meaning to the wearer or recipient.

Take, for example, the medals and awards presented to our sporting & community heroes, the uniform accoutrements that our police and emergency services personnel wear, the ceremonial robe & chain worn by a mayor at a citizenship ceremony, the gown worn by many teachers at school assemblies, badges on school uniforms, the mortar board & robe worn by happy graduates…

So, what is Regalia?

Typically, you wear it, although it may also be presented to the recipient as a type of award or token. It’s often ceremonial. It signifies achievement, position or rank. It’s symbolic. It’s historical. It’s traditional.

The etymology of the word ‘regalia’ reveals that in the 16th and 17th centuries, it referred to the insignia or marks & decorations of an order. The original Latin term was used to denote ‘royal things’ & is derived from ‘regal’ or ‘rex’ meaning King.


King George V of Great Britain, circa 1910 - Interfoto / Alamy

Sounds a bit out-dated

Sure, regalia may seem out-dated to some and a bit too ‘pomp and ceremony’, especially when the origins of regalia are linked to royalty and the privileged.

Recently we saw an academic wearing thongs with his regalia at a ceremony, obviously having a cheeky dig at what he was required to wear on the occasion! This in itself is quite interesting because the wearing of regalia prompted such a response. A light-hearted response of course, though it suggests that the embellishment of regalia can be a debateable issue and that many people may have strong opinions about it.

What we are interested in is how it does continue to have such significance to both individuals and communities across many different cultures.

Of course, this significance depends on one’s own interpretation of what regalia is. Like many things, meanings and definitions can change over time, and we believe this is the case with regalia. As described above, we consider that there are many examples of regalia in our everyday lives...

 Students_contemplate_their_achievements_and_reflect_upon_their_study_experiences at graduation

 Students reflect upon their study experiences and achievements at graduation - Ben Williams Photography

Our Spotlight on Regalia

We intend to present in a series of blog posts an exploration of the examples, definitions and meanings of regalia from past through to present and across many cultures. To us, this exploration could potentially be huge, but what we are aiming for is certainly not definitive! It could turn into something quite academic, like a sociological study, so we’re going to try to keep it more grass-roots and every-day.

We believe that this approach will highlight just how significant regalia still is.