Nishani Mai – The Queen’s Truncheon

Nishani Mai – The Queen’s Truncheon

The Brigade of Gurkhas has long carried on the tradition of maintaining banners, standards and colours. These are not unique to the Gurkhas, but the Gurkha background of the Indian army and the Brigade’s concept of ‘Kaida’ or ethos, has led to some practices which are unique within the modern British Army.

The most notable of these is the unique silver truncheon kept by the Royal Gurkha Rifles, known as the Queen’s Truncheon, or ‘Nishani Mai’. During 1857 a large-scale revolt against British control in India, known as the Indian Mutiny, occurred, and was only suppressed with great difficulty. Gurkha troops served with great distinction in this campaign and in its aftermath the Sirmoor Battalion of Gurkhas was awarded the honour of another ‘colour’ or unit banner for its service.

However, this was followed by the conversion of the unit to a Rifle Battalion, which posed a problem because Rifle units were not permitted to carry colours. Unwilling to forego the honour they had so recently received, the Sirmoor Battalion was then awarded the Queen’s Truncheon to carry in lieu of their new colour. The Truncheon remains one of the most important pieces within the mythos of the Brigade of Gurkhas and new recruits into the Royal Gurkha Rifles (a descendent unit of the Sirmoor Battalion) still utilize it in regimental ceremonies.

A smaller replica of the Truncheon is held by The Gurkha Museum in Winchester. 

© The Gurkha Museum Trust Winchester - Registered Charity Number 1169920 (formerly 272426)