Drawing many influences from its colonial origins, RMC-D is steeped in customs and traditions which are unique to the Australian Army.
Pre-dating the establishment of Canberra, Duntroon was one of three properties owned by the Campbell family before its suitibility to be an officer training school was identified by Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges in 1910.
In 1902, the first Commander of the Australian Military Forces, Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, recommended that a military college be established. The government instructed then Colonel William Throsby Bridges to visit and report on the military colleges in England, Canada and the United States. As its first Commandant, with the rank of Brigadier-General, Bridges chose the sheep station at Duntroon, then owned by the Campbell family, as the site for the Military College. By June 1911, the essential buildings had been constructed, the staff appointed and the first intake of 32 Australians and 10 New Zealanders admitted.
On the 27 June 1911, the Governor-General, Lord Dudley, opened the college and announced that it would be called the Royal Military College of Australia (RMC). The curriculum at RMC was designed as a four-year course, with half military and half academic subjects. Due to the outbreak of the First World War, the first intake was specially graduated for overseas service. The next three intakes were also shortened and the majority of cadets in the first four intakes served with either the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) or the New Zealand Army.
At the start of the First World War, Major-General Bridges was given command of the 1st AIF Division. He died at Gallipoli and his body was returned to Australia and buried on the slopes of Mount Pleasant, overlooking the college. In total, forty of the 117 Australian graduates died in the First World War.
In 1931, the Royal Military College was transferred to Victoria Barracks, Sydney. With the new location in Sydney, the Royal Military College became known as 'Duntroon Wing, Victoria Barracks' but the college returned to Duntroon in Canberra on 27 June 1936.
On the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the four-year course was reduced to two years. Additional special entry classes were admitted for six, nine and twelve months. By 1943, the improved military situation made it possible to extend the course length and a three-year curriculum was introduced. In 1947, a revised four-year course was introduced which included alternative academic courses in Arts or Science, and later, in Engineering. These courses enabled graduates to receive exemptions, up to half a degree, on the civilian courses conducted at Universities. The military curriculum was aimed to achieve the balance between the short-term requirements of a junior regimental officer and the broader foundation necessary for senior ranks within the Army.
RMC affiliated with the University of New South Wales to deliver its Bachelor courses, commencing in the 1968 academic year. In order to graduate, cadets had to achieve passes in both military and academic studies, as well as leadership. In 1974, the decision was made that all initial Army officer training would be centralised at RMC. Accordingly, in 1986, RMC took over the training responsibilities from all other full time Army officer training establishments including the Officer Cadet School at Portsea (Victoria), the Women's Officer Training Wing at Georges Heights (Sydney) and the Specialist Officer training wing at Canungra (Queensland). It was at this time that responsibility for providing degrees transferred to the newly established Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the curriculum was condensed to eighteen months of pure military studies. ADFA Army graduates were granted six months advanced standing because of training conducted during study breaks. This practice continues today.
In 2011, the college’s centenary year, the Commandant of RMC was appointed and given legal authority as a formation commander by the Chief of Army to command Army’s key training establishments: the RMC - Duntroon (now known as RMC-D), the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka (Wagga Wagga) and the Land Warfare Centre at Canungra (Queensland). Thus the Commandant is responsible for the delivery of all common ‘point of entry’ and ‘career milestone’ courses for all ranks from private to major. The formation is now known as the Royal Military College – Australia (RMC-A).
RMC-D has produced many highly-esteemed graduates who have been, and continue to be, leaders in their respective fields throughout Australian society.
- Major General Peter Arnison, AC, CVO – Governor of Queensland
- General Sir Phillip Bennett, AC, KBE, DSO – Governor of Tasmania
- Rodney Cocks, CSM – author and Australian of the Year
- General Peter Cosgrove, AC, MC - Chief of the Defence Force and Australian of the Year
- Lieutenant General Sir Donald Dunstan, AC, KBE, CB – Governor of South Australia
- Brigadier Adrian d'Hagé, AM, MC – novelist
- Professor Alan Dupont – strategist, diplomat, policy analyst and scholar
- The Honourable Doctor Jim Forbes, CMG, MC – Minister for the Army
- Hon Martin Hamilton–Smith MP – Minister for Defence Industries
- Major General Sir James Harrison, KCMG, CB, CBE – first Australian–born Governor of South Australia
- General Sir Francis "Frank" Hassett, AC, KBE, CB, DSO, LVO – first Chief of the Defence Force
- David Horner, AM – author and strategist
- Major General Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC - 24th Governor-General of Australia, first Australian career soldier to be appointed governor-general, Governor of Western Australia
- Lieutenant General Rhys Jones – Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force
- Major General Duncan Lewis, AO, DSC, CSC – Secretary of the Department of Defence
- The Honourable Campbell Newman – 38th Premier of Queensland
- Professor Robert O’Neill, AO – academic and first Rhodes Scholar in the Australian Army
- Lieutenant General Sir Horace Robertson, KBE, DSO – first RMC–D graduate to be knighted
- Lieutenant General Sir Sydney Rowell, KBE, CB – first Australian–born Chief of the General Staff
- Lieutenant General John Sanderson, AC – Governor of Western Australia
- Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger, KBE, CB, DSO, AFC – first Air Chief Marshall in the Royal Australian Air Force
- Harvey Shore – film and television writer/producer
- Brigadier Sir Charles Spry, CBE, DSO – first Director–General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
- Major General Alan Stretton, AO, CBE – player in the Victorian Football League and Australian of the Year
- His Royal Highness The Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand
- Lieutenant General Sir Eric Woodward, KCMG, KCVO, CB, CBE, DSO – first New South Wales–born Governor of New South Wales
- Benjamin Wyatt – Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Using colours to provide a rally point in the confusion of battle dates back to the sixteenth century to maintain the morale of troops. Although no longer carried into battle, colours are the symbol of a regiment which display battle honours in recognition of gallant deeds.
Today in the Australian Army, colours are carried by the Corps of Staff Cadets at Duntroon and by battalions of infantry regiments. The Corps has two colours: the Queen's Colour and the Regimental Colour. The first set of colours was received by the Corps on 10 May 1927 from His Royal Highness The Duke of York (later His Majesty King George VI). Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has presented all subsequent sets of colours; the second set on 17 February 1954, the third set on 27 April 1970, the fourth set on 10 May 1988 and the fifth set during RMC-D's Centenerary celebrations on 22 October 2011.
The Queen's Colour
The Queen's Colour, when uncased, is deemed equal to the presence of the Sovereign herself. In the Australian Army, the Queen's Colour was the Union Jack until 1969 when royal approval was granted for the current design which is based on the Australian National Flag. The Royal Military College was the first unit in the Australian Army to receive the new design when it was presented to the Corps of Staff Cadets by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 27 April 1970.
The Regimental Colour
The Regimental Colour represents the embodiment of the spirit and history of the Corps of Staff Cadets. Given the Royal title bestowed on the College, the base colour of the Regimental Colour is dark blue (for units without a Royal title, the base colour is dark green). The Corps of Staff Cadets Regimental Colour bears a device, centrally placed, and composed of the unit badge.
The Sovereign's Banner
The Sovereign's Banner is currently held by Alamein Company
When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Duntroon in 1954, she granted permission for title 'The Sovereign's Company' to be bestowed on the Champion Company of cadets each year. Her Majesty subsequently gave permission for her Banner to be carried by the Sovereign's Company on ceremonial occasions. When the Corps parades, the position of each Company on the inspection line is determined by their relative position in the Lee Shield Competition. This competition determines the Sovereign's Company and company seniority generally. The Sovereign's Company is the senior company and is always on the right of the line.
The original Sovereign's Banner was presented to the Corps on 26 February 1958 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The then Governor-General of Australia, The Honourable Bill Hayden, presented the current Sovereign's Banner to the Corps on 12 June 1992. Other than the Royal Military Academy - Sandhurst, the Royal Military College - Duntroon is the only military institute in the world to have the privilege of such a device.