Royal Blue

Why was Royal Blue a famous pigeon?

Learning objective

To understand how and why homing pigeons were used in war.

Challenge 1

Why was ‘Royal Blue’ a famous homing pigeon?

Observe the following video clip Click on the Image.

royal blue

Challenge 2

Complete an Internet search on Royal Blue and list the main facts about the bird.

In small groups decide on the three main facts.

Produce a presentation on Royal Blue.


Differentiation or Expected outcomes from Challenge 1

·      Which country did Royal Blue fly home from?

Produce a map showing the countries involved in WWII and the route home for Royal Blue.

·      Where was Royal Blue’s home?

·      What is the medal around Royal Blue’s neck?

·      What was the consequence of Royal Blue’s mission?

·      Who was the owner of Royal Blue?

·      Why was the homing pigeon called Royal Blue?

·      Can you explain how a homing pigeon finds its way home?


You may wish to complete Challenge 3 or Challenge 4. Challenge 4 could be done in small groups contributing to one large wall map.


Challenge 3

Produce a family tree of the Royal Family and indicate which monarchs have had homing pigeons at Sandringham.


Challenge 4

Using the following site, produce a large wall map showing all the flights home of the homing pigeons, which won the Dickin Medal. Label the flight paths with the name and basic information of each pigeon.

Photograph your map and email it into the monthly competition. Details of the competition will be posted on the website.


Further Investigation

Coo Dares Wins - The Sun - Tim Spanton

What is a Secret Message? (Look at the resources on Secret Messages).


How does a homing pigeon carry the message?


Observe the Walt Disney film Valiant.

Watch the trailer and read the reviews and you will see it makes a useful end of term fun activity and review. The Flying Back To Nature project should be aware of this recent (2005) Disney film.


National Curriculum Areas (This needs finishing).

KS1 (Y1 – Y2 5 – 8 yrs) History

KS2 (Y3 – Y6 8 – 11yrs) History



Answers to Challenges

Challenge 1.

Homing pigeons were used to carry coded Secret Messages from the person released them back to their home in the UK or their mobile home. When all other forms of communications had failed the homing pigeon was able to fly home and take the message. Homing pigeons had a 95% success rate in carrying messages home.


Challenge 3

Having watched the video extract pupils could simply tick the members of the Royal Family, which have been involved with keeping racing pigeons at Sandringham. A mention of Prince Leopold of Belgium who sent the first birds to King George V. Will the lofts at Sandringham continue with Prince Charles or Prince Andrew? Will George enjoy them in the future?


Challenge 4

Large map of Europe required.

Photograph of the Dickin Medal (Next Page).


The Animals VC



The Dickin Medal


What was the name of the person who founded The Dickin Medal?


© Peter Humphries 2014