Anzac poppies

Artificial poppies placed as Anzac Day tributes on a cenotaph in New Zealand; mostly red poppies marketed by the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association, with a lone White Poppy specimen

The White Poppy is used as a symbol of peace, worn as an alternative to the red poppy for Remembrance Day or Anzac Day. Some individuals choose to wear both a white and a red poppy.

In 1926, a few years after the introduction of the red poppy in the UK, the idea of pacifists making their own poppies was put forward by a member of the No More War Movement (and that the black centre of the British Legion's red poppies should be imprinted with "No More War"). Nothing seems to have come of this, until in 1933 the Women's Co-operative Guild introduced the White Poppy. Their intention was to remember all the war dead of all wars, with the added meaning of a hope for the end of all wars; the red poppy, they felt, signified only the British military dead. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) took part in its distribution from 1934, and white poppy wreaths were laid from 1937 as a pledge to peace that war must not happen again. Anti-war organisations such as the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship now support the White Poppy Movement.

Those who promote the wearing of white poppies argue that the red poppy also conveys a specific political standpoint, and point to the divisive nature of the red poppy in Northern Ireland, where it is worn mainly by the Unionist community. They choose the white poppy over the red often because they wish to disassociate themselves from the militaristic aspects of Remembrance Day, rather than the commemoration itself.[1]

Opponents of the white poppy argue that the traditional red poppy already encompasses the sentiments claimed for the white poppy, such as "remembering all victims of war", and consider that it undermines the message of remembrance. In the 1930s, when the white poppy was first established, some women lost their jobs for wearing them.[2] Others object that the money raised by the white poppy appeal is diverted from the funds raised for the Royal British Legion by the red poppy appeal.

In 1986 British prime minister Margaret Thatcher expressed her "deep distaste" for the symbol[3].

The Royal British Legion has no official opinion on the wearing of white poppies, stating that it "is a matter of choice, the Legion doesn't have a problem whether you wear a red one or a white one, both or none at all". [4]

White poppy in New Zealand

White poppies

Natural white poppies among red ones in a field.

In New Zealand in 2009 a White Poppy Annual Appeal was promoted by Peace Movement Aotearoa from 17 to 24 April, with all proceeds going to White Poppy Peace Scholarships[5].

White poppies have been worn in New Zealand to mark both Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. In recent years, the annual white poppy appeal was run as a fundraiser for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament around the time of Hiroshima Day in August. Responsibility for organising the annual appeal was transferred to Peace Movement Aotearoa, as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in New Zealand closed down in 2008.[5]


  1. John Montgomery, quoted in the Irish News, 10 November 1986, p.1
  2. {{|url= the Poppy?|date=2008|work=Ninety Years of Remembrance|publisher=BBC|accessdate=2008-11-09}}
  3. Bill Hetherington, "Symbols of Peace", Housmans Peace Diary 2007
  4. Red, white, or none at all? The great poppy debate
  5. 5.0 5.1 2009 White Poppy Annual Appeal on, retrieved 2009-04-25

External links

News articles

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