The term Aides-de-Camp or ADC derives from the French (literally camp assistant or assistant in the field). First used in the late seventeenth century, the term originally referred to an officer attached to a commander to carry his orders to subordinates. In modern usage the term generally applies to an officer whose primary role is to act as a personal assistant or secretary to a senior military officer.
Outside the military, the ADC has traditionally been appointed to attend Royalty and Vice-Royalty. As the Queen’s representative for New South Wales, the Governor has always been attended by Aides-de-Camp. Until 1996 it was a full-time role with the ADC being part of the household staff. However, the role is now performed on a part-time basis by members of the Australian Defence Force Reserve.
The badge of office for an ADC is the aiguillette, a braided cord in gold, flecked with the colour of their service: dark blue for Navy, red for Army and light blue for the Air Force. Vice Regal Aides-de-Camp wear their aiguillette on the right shoulder, whereas as aides to senior military officers wear it on the left shoulder.
Honorary Aides-de-Camp support the Governor in the exercise of her ceremonial and community responsibilities, accompanying them on Vice Regal engagements and ceremonies at Government House and in the broader community. Banjo Paterson’s comment in 1893 that “the duties of an ADC are manifold and various” ring true today.
At Government House the Aides-de-Camp are responsible for formal procedures, such as receiving, presenting, hosting and farewell guests at official calls, receptions, luncheons and dinners. Aides-de-Camp also make an important contribution to ensuring a welcoming environment for the Governor’s guests. Aides-de-Camp have a special role in investiture ceremonies, where they present the insignia to the Governor who then invests the recipient.
Aides-de-Camp are also called upon to represent the Governor on official and ceremonial occasions. These include attending services or other functions, or greeting Heads of State or senior dignitaries on the Governor’s behalf as they arrive in or depart from New South Wales.