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Have you ever wondered about the black rosette worn on the bonnet? Often cap badges are mounted on these, indicating either an organisation, pipe band, regiment, or clan crest.
These come from the eighteenth-century fashion of wearing a ribbon within the loops of material used to pin the brim of a hat onto the crown. Over time both loops and ribbon became less functional and more decorative, and the ribbon colours of were used as badges to indicate a person’s political allegiance or rank within the army. In the British Isles, two colours came to signify the politics of the day: black showed support for the Hanoverian government, of the King Georges.
A Black Ribbon in the bonnet of Farquhar Shaw, a soldier of the Black Watch.
White, however, was adopted by the supporters of the exiled Stuart monarchs, who were known as the Jacobites. An important Jacobite symbol was the white rose, and the ribbons could be worked into elaborate cockade rosettes.
So, in short, we have black as default today, as the Hanoverians won. But, should you wish, we’ve made the Jacobite Rose available too.
After the ’45 and the ultimate demise of Jacobitism as a political force, cockades politics would find further expressions in other conflicts. During the American War of Independence, colourful cockades would denote rank in the continental army, although soon they reverted to black. However, with the arrival of French troops, who wore white cockades, the two were combined, and the Americans adopted white-over-black. When civil war erupted in France in 1789, red, white and blue came to symbolise the Revolution.
By the end of the century the cockades started to be worn on the lapel, breast or even the sleeve, giving rise to the modern rosette.