Flag of a vice-admiral, Royal Navy
Insignia shoulder board and Sleeve lace for Vice-admiral
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The Royal Navy has had vice-admirals since at least the 16th century. When the fleet was deployed, the vice-admiral would be in the leading portion or van, acting as the deputy to the admiral. The rank of Vice-Admiral evolved from that of Lieutenant of the Admiralty (1546-1564) that being an officer who acted as secretary to the Lord Admiral of England and lapsed in 1876 but was revived in 1901 by King Edward VII and is now the most senior rank within the Navy. Prior to 1864 the Royal Navy was divided into colored squadrons which determined his career path. The command flags flown by a Vice-Admiral changed a number of times during this period included.
In the Royal Navy, the rank of vice-admiral should be distinguished from the office of Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom, which is an admiralty position usually held by a retired full admiral, and that of Vice-Admiral of the Coast, a now obsolete office dealing with naval administration in each of the maritime counties.
Vice-admirals are entitled to fly a personal flag. A vice-admiral flies a St George's cross defaced with a red disc in the hoist.
The rank of vice-admiral itself is shown in its sleeve lace by a broad band with two narrower bands. Since 2001, it has been designated a three-star rank, when the number of stars on the shoulder board were increased to three.