Field Marshal is the highest military rank of the United Kingdom, equivalent to a General of the Army in other countries such as the United States. It ranks immediately above the rank of General and is the Army equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
The rank insignia of a Field Marshal in the British Army comprises two crossed batons on a wreath, with a crown above. In some other countries, historically under the sphere of British influence, an adapted version of the insignia is used for Field Marshals, often with the crown being replaced with an alternative cultural or national emblem.
The office of Marshal was known in England from the 12th century, but in the introduction of the modern military title Great Britain was a relative latecomer. It was introduced by George I, the first King of the House of Hanover, in the style of the continental armies. The 1st Earl of Orkney became the first Field Marshal in 1736.
During the early part of the 20th century, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff was usually a Field Marshal. After the creation of the office of Chief of the Defence Staff, Army occupants of the office were Field Marshals until the 1990s.
Now no Field Marshals are to be routinely appointed in peacetime, the last being Field Marshal Lord Inge, although members of the Royal Family and certain other very senior officers are still eligible to be appointed (none has, however, been appointed since the general suspension of promotions to the rank). The rank of Field Marshal is the only rank in the British Army where the individual never officially retires, as the rank is conferred for life.
Although traditionally, the British monarch is a Field Marshal, Queen Elizabeth II does not hold that rank. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent are two of the few remaining Field Marshals of the British Army.