Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, the highest rank in the several European navies that used it. It is best known for its use in Germany as Großadmiral. A comparable rank in modern navies is that of admiral of the fleet.
In Sweden the rank of grand admiral was only ever awarded twice. Once to Prince Charles (XIII), whom was given the title at birth and which was used by him as the commander of the Swedish Royal Navy and once to Crown prince Oscar (I) as a courtesy title to honour his adoptive grandfather, the late king Charles XIII.
In Bourbon Restoration France, the rank was an honorific one equivalent to that of marshal in the French Army.
|Country|| German Empire|
|Service branch|| Imperial German Navy|
|Rank group||Flag officer|
|Next lower rank||Generaladmiral|
In the Imperial German Navy, and later in the Kriegsmarine, the rank Großadmiral was the equivalent of a British admiral of the fleet or a United States fleet admiral; as a five-star rank (OF-10). Like field marshals its holders were authorised to carry a baton.
The rank was created in 1901 and discontinued in 1945, after eight men were promoted to it. The next most junior rank was Generaladmiral (admiral-general).
Before and during World War I, the following were made grand admirals of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine):
- King Edward VII of the United Kingdom (26 June 1902)
- Hans von Koester (28 June 1905)
- King Oscar II of Sweden (13 July 1905)
- Prince Henry of Prussia (4 September 1909)
- Alfred von Tirpitz (27 January 1911)
- Henning von Holtzendorff (31 July 1918)
Großadmiral was the most senior rank of the Kriegsmarine, immediately senior to Generaladmiral. There were no more grand admirals until 1939. The following men were made grand admirals during the Nazi regime:
- Erich Raeder, then-Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine, was made a grand admiral on 1 April 1939.
- Karl Dönitz, commander of the U-Boat fleet, was made a grand admiral on 30 January 1943 upon succeeding Raeder as Commander-in-Chief.
The Austrian grand admirals were all members of the Imperial family, except for Anton Haus, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian navy for part of World War I:
- 1911: Archduke Charles Stephen of Austria (1860–1933)
- 12 May 1916: Anton Haus (1851–1917)
- 9 October 1916: Prince Henry of Prussia (1862–1929)
- 1 November 1916: Kaiser Charles I of Austria (1887–1922)
- 22 February 1917: Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (1859–1941)
The rank of grand admiral (Italian: grand'ammiraglio) was created by Benito Mussolini in 1924. It was established primarily to honour Paolo Thaon di Revel, who had been head of the Italian Regia Marina during World War I — he was the only person to be awarded the rank. It was equivalent to marshal of Italy in the army and also marshal of the Air Force.
In 1967 the rank of Grand Admiral of Peru (Spanish: Gran Almirante del Perú) was awarded posthumously to Miguel Grau Seminario and is equivalent to the army rank of Grand Marshal of Peru.
Among the several grand admirals appearing in fiction and science fiction, one notable figure is Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Star Wars science fiction franchise.
- ^ "127-128 (Nordisk familjebok / Uggleupplagan. 27. Stockholm-Nynäs järnväg - Syrsor)". runeberg.org (in Swedish). 1918. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
- ^ BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 9: 3-7653-3660-2, page 164; definition: «Großadmiral»
- ^ "Latest intelligence - The German Emperor and the King". The Times. No. 36806. London. 28 June 1902. p. 5.
- ^ Trendacosta, Katharine. "Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn and Why Is His Appearance in Star Wars Rebels So Exciting?". io9.