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A standard-bearer or flag-bearer is a person (soldier or civilian) who bears an emblem called a standard or military Regulation Colours, i.e. either a type of flag or an inflexible but mobile image, which is used (and often honoured) as a formal, visual symbol of a state, prince, military unit, etc.
This can either be an occasional duty, often seen as an honour (especially on parade), or a permanent charge (also on the battlefield); the second type has even led in certain cases to this task being reflected in official rank titles such as Ensign, Cornet and Fähnrich. In the context of the Olympic Games, a flagbearer is the athlete who carries the flag of their country during the opening and closing ceremonies.
While at present a purely ceremonial function, in Medieval Warfare the standard-bearer had an important role on the battlefield. It was a honorable position carrying a considerable risk, as a standard-bearer would be a major target for the opposing side's troops seeking to capture the standard or pull it down.
- The regimental system, National Army Museum
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