why do the British salute differently to the Americans
the origin of the salute is unknown, but one idea is that the salute goes back to Roman times as a way to show you were unarmed. another theory is that it originates from medieval Knights, when they raised their visors and revealed their face before combat as a mark of respect.
in the British Army before the 18th century, it was customary to salute a superior by taking off your hat but as hats became more cumbersome and it created wear and tear it transformed into simply touching the hats when an officer passed. this may explain why in the modern day soldiers do not salute if they are not wearing a headdress or headgear.
later on this salute evolved into a new version performed with the palm facing outwards and is used by the British Army and the Royal Air Force the Royal Navy however, does not salute like this instead they salute with the palm downwards the reason behind this it is thought is because sailors had dirty palms from working on ships all day, and that displaying them to superiors was disrespectful they would often have white gloves for the task of working with the torrent pitch which was used to seal the ships timber from sea water an anecdote goes .
that it was Queen Victoria who changed the palm salute 90 degrees downwards when she was visiting a warship and was saluted by a sailor with a dirty palm.
these two salutes are also used in this way depending on the branch in Commonwealth countries. Meanwhile, all of the branches of the French military perform their salute with the palm outwards, the Royal Navy’s version of the downward salute influenced the US military.
the US Army, Navy Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard all salute in this style with the palm downwards.
another type of salute is the two finger outwards salute found in the Polish military, the reason behind this is because the soldier is pointing out the white eagle on the coat of arms on their headdress, its origin is also mysterious like other salutes, but one legend goes that a wounded soldier who had three fingers blown off in battle saluted a superior before his death.
during World War two Polish soldiers fighting under the British Army changed this salute to the full hand version this was because it was being misinterpreted as disrespectful due to its resemblance to the Cub Scout salute it even led to some arrests until it could be explained