British Legion provides clarity on 'How to wear a poppy' debate

Serving personnel hand out poppies and collect donations for the Royal British Legion Appeal at Liverpool Street Station, during London Poppy Day. Picture date: Thursday November 4, 2021. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Royal British Legion has waded into the debate about how to wear a poppy (Getty).

With Remembrance Day on Friday - 11 November - and Remembrance Sunday this weekend, many people across the country are joining the Royal British Legion poppy campaign.

The poppy, which is worn as a sign of respect for the Armed Forces, became a symbol of remembrance because of its prominence on the battlefields during the First World War.

As the British Legion website puts it: "Previously beautiful landscapes turned to mud; bleak and barren scenes where little or nothing could grow. There was a notable and striking exception to the bleakness - the bright red Flanders poppies. These resilient flowers flourished in the middle of so much chaos and destruction, growing in the thousands upon thousands."

Why do people wear poppies?

Wearing a poppy represents all those who lost their lives on active service, from the beginning of the First World War up to present day.

DIKSMUIDE, BELGIUM - JULY 14: Wild poppies grow in the 'Trench of Death', a preserved Belgian World War One trench system on July 14, 2017 in Diksmuide, Belgium. July 31, 2017 marks the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles of World War One, The Battle of Passchendaele, also known as The Third Battle of Ypres in which almost 325,000 Allied troops and 260,000 Germans were killed. The poppy has become an internationally recognised symbol of remembrance after it grew in the war-ravaged and muddied landscape of Belgian Flanders. The sight of the poppy growing by the graves of soldiers inspired Canadian soldier John McCrae to write one of the most famous World War One poems, 'In Flanders Fields'.  (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Wild poppies grow in the 'Trench of Death', a preserved Belgian World War One trench system in Diksmuide, Belgium. (Getty Images)

The Royal British Legion poppy campaign has been running for more than 100 years, since 1921.

It also honours the contribution of civilian services and the uniformed services which contribute to national peace and security and acknowledges innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism.

How should you wear a poppy?

Some say a poppy should be worn on the left, to keep it close to your heart. The left lapel is also the side that medals are worn by the Armed Forces.

However, others argue that the symbol should be displayed on the left by men and the right by women, the traditional positions of a badge or brooch.

The Royal British Legion has said that there is 'no correct way' to wear a poppy, people should just 'wear it with pride' (Twitter).
The Royal British Legion has said that there is 'no correct way' to wear a poppy, people should just 'wear it with pride' (Twitter).

Last week, the Royal British Legion sought to clarify that there is no correct way to wear a poppy, but asks that if people do wear one, they "wear it with pride".

It says: "From paper poppies to pins, bag charms to pet poppies, the best way to wear a poppy is simply with pride."

Much of the discussion is based around where the leaf should be positioned, but the original version of the British Legion poppy did not feature a leaf.

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A leaf was first introduced in the 1960s and they slowly became an optional extra.

By 1984 demand for them had grown to 12 million a year, and in 1995 poppies with leaves included were made available for the first time. But there is no official direction as to where the leaf should be positioned.

The British Legion also makes clear on its website that all of the parts of its poppies can be recycled.

It says: "We are committed to reducing the impact our poppies have on the environment and are working to remove all single use plastic in the future."