The Ministry of Defence has sparked outrage after removing the Queen’s title from its official Facebook page amid concerns among top brass that the Army is seen as ‘too elitist’.
Defence chiefs triggered a furious backlash last week when they informed hundreds of thousands of Facebook users that they were altering the page’s name from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to UK Armed Forces – offering no explanation for the change.
Within hours, the page was bombarded with angry messages from people accusing top brass of being disrespectful to Her Majesty. And on Friday, MoD chiefs reversed the controversial decision, after being contacted by The Mail on Sunday.
The furore comes just weeks after the MoS exposed an official plan by top brass to rebrand the Army in a bid to make it appear less elitist.
Defence chiefs triggered a furious backlash last week when they informed hundreds of thousands of Facebook users that they were altering the page’s name from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to UK Armed Forces
General Sir Nick Carter, new Chief of the Defence Staff, dropped the Army’s ‘Be the Best’ motto and its historic crest – but his move was thwarted by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who put the politically correct plans on hold.
Last week’s Facebook debacle brought a new barrage of criticism. One user, Rob Yuill, said: ‘UK Armed Forces? This is simply disgraceful to the Queen and the country. It’s the Queen’s military and not the Government’s.’
And Hayden Edwards asked: ‘Do us servicemen and women no longer fight for Queen and country?’
The move appeared all the more disrespectful as Her Majesty remains Head of the Armed Forces and still holds Honorary Colonel and Colonel-in-Chief titles in more than 30 UK military units, including the Grenadier Guards and Royal Engineers.
Last night, the MoD issued a statement claiming the name had been changed in error and was not part of any overriding plan to rebrand the Army.
The Ministry of Defence has sparked outrage after removing the Queen’s title from its official Facebook page amid concerns among top brass that the Army is seen as ‘too elitist’
But the damage has already been done, according to Colonel Richard Kemp, former British Army commander in Afghanistan. He said: ‘This was a stupid, short-sighted thing to do. Why seek to erase Her Majesty from a Facebook page? There was nothing to be gained. The connections to Her Majesty are one of the reasons why the Armed Forces are such a great institution.
‘I don’t think the advertising agencies who advise our commanders really understand the military community, old or young. Soldiers respect Her Majesty far more than they do any politician. Governments come and go but the Royal Family remains genuinely supportive and intrinsically linked to the Armed Forces.
‘It is a myth to think the Armed Forces benefit from trying to look modern or to rub out the past.’
The Her Majesty’s Armed Forces Facebook page is hugely popular, ‘liked’ by 850,000 users around the world.
An MoD spokesman added: ‘We constantly review our channels to make sure we’re telling Defence’s story well, including our proud links with the Royal Family.
‘On this occasion, we made a title change in error, which has been resolved. The bond between the military and the monarchy is historic and enduring and we will always champion that in the stories that we publish.’