Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Rule Britannia - The Lyrics and the history

Detail of a patriot postcard from 1903

 Yesterday (25/08/2020) I read an interesting column by a certain peer of the Realm in the Sun, (I don't often read the Sun but it was the only newspaper in the Lunch room). While he agreed with my viewpoint over the recent controversy the British Broadcasting Corporation has brought upon itself I was a little bit taken aback aback at what he said was the history behind the lyrics and suggesting that most people who enthusiastically sing the song while waving flags were ignorant of the said history. 

I am not going to say here if patriotic songs like Rule Britannia or Land of Hope and Glory should or should not be sung enthusiastically or even sung at all at the Last Night of the Proms nor am I going to attack the BBC decision. I am however going to look at the history of the song and you the reader can make up your own mind on the subject. 

Who or what is Britannia?

Firstly lets look at the question of what is Britannia. Britannia is the Latin name for the island Great Britain which is also applied to the personification of the United Kingdom which is inspired by the Goddess Athena from Greek and later Roman mythology. Although she has appeared on coins minted by every British monarch since Charles II she became a more widely accepted symbol for Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria, probably in no small part because she is a female personification. She is generally depicted in a white toga wearing a Corinthian style helmet and armed with a trident and a Union Shield. She is often although by no means always depicted seated with a lion. Of there is tones of symbolism in the white being seen a symbol of purity or even peace, the trident symbolic of mastery of the sea etc etc (I will suggest reading the chapter on personifications in my book on Northern Ireland flags and emblems for more details) 

Origins of the Song

The music was written as part of an opera about Alfred the Great by Thomas Arne, David Mallet and James Thompson. It was first performed for the Prince of Wales in 1740. Arne wrote the music for this work. Alfred the Great was the King of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Wessex which was the most powerful of the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. He was viewed by antiquarian historians as the father of the English nation (although he himself was never king of England) for defending the islands against Viking conquest. He is sometimes called the father of the Navy as he was the first English King recorded to construct and man ships for war. 

Thompson was a Scottish unionist and believed in embracing a British identity shared by English, Scots, Irish and Welsh people. This is probably his motivation when he wrote 'Rule Britannia' in 1740 for the opera. 

1759 is known as Britain's year of Wonders for it saw British forces triumph over the French and their allies on land and sea all over the world (the Seven Years War is sometimes refereed to as the first ever world war). The land as a result was full of patriotic zeal not least of which resulted from the numerous achievements of the Royal Navy and this is the backdrop to which Rule Britannia a song from an opera which about great victories on land and sea against a foreign enemy became popular. (It is also the year the Royal Navy's quick march 'Heart of Oak' was written and is the "wonderful year" referred to in the first verse of that song)

The Lyrics

Thompson wrote six verses to 'Rule Britannia' although since 1759 usually on three are actually sung (as is the case in the below clip) or in some cases only two. In any case I will examine and explain all of Thompson's lyrics as the three verses that are sung (with the exception of the first verse) usually vary.

Verse One:

When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And Guardian Angels sang this strain:

To understand the first verse we must remember the song is written for an opera about Alfred the Great. Alfred who is being regarded as the father of the nation, defeated the Great Heathen Army of the Vikings and thus preserved Christian civilisation in England and arguably Great Britain as whole. Hence the line "at heaven's Command." Azure is a shade of blue and in heraldry is the tincture for blue, hence the second line is referencing the island nation identity and possibly even the creation of the land itself. 
The Charter is a little bit more difficult to determine as Britain has an unwritten constitution (which is misleading term as the British constitution is long and complex with an awful lot of witting) it could be referring to Magna Carter (which means Great Charter) regarded as the founding document of British Rights and Freedom, it could be the much more recent Bill of Rights from the reign of William III and Mary II or it could be one of the numerous documents of Alfred the Great or even the Bible. 
Then the last line returning back to the theme of Christian civilisation triumphing over the Great Heathen Army sets up the Chorus

The Chorus:

Rule Britannia!
Britannia Rule the Waves!
Britons Never, ever ever will be slaves!

Throughout this song you see the poet in Thompson but particularly in the chorus, for rather than simply evoke Britain ruling the waves he personifies the nation in the figure of Britannia. The lyrics about ruling the waves were originally references to Alfred defeating the Vikings who were of course excellent sailors who'es exploits can be found throughout the Northern hemisphere. Since 1759 however its been used to evoke the victories of the Royal Navy in that year and the years since. 
The line "Britons Never will be slaves" is the particular line the BBC thinks is controversial despite the fact its clearly about fighting slavery rather than practising it. What is this line about, were British people (Britons) ever faced with slavery?
Well during Anglo-Saxon times they were. Viking raiders often took slaves as did many of the people of raided the British coast in the centuries since. Slavery was (and still is) also not enforceable in Britain under British Common Law (there were numerous court cases between the reign of Elizabeth I and George III that proved this most notably the case of Somerset vs Stewart in 1772) although such laws admittable did not extend to the colonies, and Britain benefited from trade with the colonies. 
There is also a line of thinking that this line was inspired from one of Thompson's earlier works. The 'Tragedy of Sophonisba' (1730) is about a Carthaginian (another naval power form antiquity) princess who ultimately commits suicide rather than submit to Roman slavery.

Second Verse:

The nations not so blest as thee
Must, in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shalt flourish great and free:
The dread and envy of them all

Again in the context to the original opera the song was written for the first two lines of this verse references the peoples who fell to the Vikings. The last two lines simply compare the free peoples of Britain who's greatness is both envied and dreaded by other nations. Admittable there might be a bit of chest thumping here but that is hardly unique to British patriotic music. 

Third Verse:

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke,
As the loud blast that tears the skies
Serves but to root thy native oak.

The first two lines of this verse is simply saying in a more poetic manner that Britain always comes out of fight stronger. Likewise the last two lines imply that whenever British people or British values are threatened and attacked, rather than scare or submit British people become more defiant and more entrenched in the position they held. This is being visualised with an oak tree representing the British people, which is rooted rather than felled by a blast.  

Fourth Verse:

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame;
All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame,
But work their woe and thy renown.

The first line of this verse follows the theme of the previous verse simply stating the nation will never be tamed by tyrants. The tyrants in question probably originally intended to be Vikings but since 1759 the word referring to the French and other foreign foes. France at this time of course being an absolute monarchy whereas Britain was a constitutional monarchy with restrictions on royal power. The second and third lines really repeat the theme of the last two lines of the previous verse. This time it compares Britian to a flame which burns brighter when tyrants attempt to bend Britons down. Of course there is great symbolism in flames and light being associated with freedom and enlightenment as well as with passion which Thompson is attempting to convey to the audience. 
Renown mean highly acclaimed or highly honored hence The last line simply states that while others work their woe (a word meaning sorrow or distress) Britain is also at work to the opposite effect.

Fifth Verse:

To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles, thine.

As is with many patriotic songs it talks about riches and resources and hence the first two lines speak of resources of the land (rural reign) and the cities shining with commerce. 
The last two lines are open to be misinterpreted as being colonialist as they are talking about territorial possession. However they are in fact talking about British territorial integrity. The 'subject main' being the island of Great Britain and the "shores it circles" being the numerous other islands of the British Isles. 

Sixth Verse:

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coasts repair.
Blest isles! with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.

The "Muses" are minor Gods in Greek mythology and personify the musical, literary and visual arts as well as Science. Hence the first two lines of this verse are stating that Britain is a welcoming place for culture and science. The third verse salutes the natural beauty of the British Isles where as the last verse describes the people of the said isles as fair and guarded by manly hearts. This probably has subtle notes to 18th century notions of femininity and purity as well as manhood and strength.

Concluding Remarks

Of course the song could well evoke different things for different people for a variety of reasons. However I think it is clear from the examination of the history and lyrics of the song that it is neither intended to be about Slavery or Colonialism. While it is a song that evokes naval and military power Thompson was careful to frame that power in a defensive nature. It is true the song was written in an era of colonialism when Britain benefited from the triangle trade but . However that can be said of numerous songs and poetry from history. Shakespeare wrote his plays in a time where English people were persecuted for their faith, yet no one is saying we shouldn't enjoy those plays. The same is true of Rule Britannia, enslavement and subjugation are not what I think is evoked in the song. It could be argued that the lyrics are at worst hypocritical of what Britain was or is, but I think the lyrics are more an expression of what Britain can achieve and what we as Britons should aspire for our country to be.
Those are merely the conclusions I have drawn from this examination of the song, I invite you you to draw your own.

Monday, 13 July 2020


 one of the oldest if not the oldest tune you might hear on the twelfth. It dates directly to the Glorious Revolution.
The melody was first published by English composer Henry Purcell in 1687, as a quick step on the basis of a traditional song.

In either case it became popular in 1687 when the MP for Buckinghamshire Thomas, Lord Walton composed a satirical poem about the appointment of the Earl of Tyrconnell as Lord Deputy of Ireland. The poem quickly took on musical form being set to Purcell’s quickstep and gained popularity as James II brought regiments of the Irish Army to England. Wharton would later boast that his song had sung James out of the Three Kingdoms. It sometimes being said that James made the final decision to flee the crown when he heard the sentry outside his personal quarters whistling the tune!
The tune was carried back to Ireland by troops in the Williamite Army. The tune continues to be used as a military march to this day. Over the time other songs and lyrics have been set to it, most notable ‘The Protestant Boys’ but also the tavern song ‘Nottingham Ale,’ and the American Civil War song ‘Overtures of Richmond’ which keeping in the theme of the original song is a satire of Jefferson Davis the president of the southern Confederacy.
The song was adopted in World War II by the BBC as the opening for the program ‘Into Battle.’ Later being used as the interval signal, its use continuing long after the war until the 1990s when the World Service finally dropped the practice.
It continues as a march today being the formal march of the Corps of Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers and the Corps of Royal Australian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers. Both of whom were formed in WW2 and given rise with some debate with the BBC as who adopted the tune first.


The 1688 lyrics feature two satirical Irish Jacobites looking forward to the completion of James’ perceived policies in Ireland under Tyrconnell:

Ho, brother Teague, dost hear the decree?
Lillibullero bullen a la
We are to have a new deputy
Lillibullero bullen a la
Lero Lero Lillibullero
Lillibullero bullen a la
Lero Lero Lero Lero
Lillibullero bullen a la
Oh by my soul it is a Talbot
Lillibullero bullen a la
And he will cut every Englishman's throat
Lillibullero bullen a la
Though, by my soul, the English do prate
Lillibullero bullen a la
The law's on their side and the devil knows what
Lillibullero bullen a la
But if dispense do come from the Pope
Lillibullero bullen a la
We'll hang Magna Carta and themselves on a rope
Lillibullero bullen a la
Who all in France have taken a swear,
Lillibullero bullen a la
That they will have no Protestant heir
Lillibullero bullen a la
Now Tyrconnell is come ashore
Lillibullero bullen a la
And we shall have commissions galore
Lillibullero bullen a la
And everyone that won't go to Mass
Lillibullero bullen a la
He will be turned out to look like an ass
Lillibullero bullen a la
Now the heretics all go down
Lillibullero bullen a la
By Christ and St Patrick's the nation's our own
Lillibullero bullen a la
There was an old prophecy found in a bog
Lillibullero bullen a la
The country'd be ruled by an ass and a dog
Lillibullero bullen a la
Now this prophecy is all come to pass
Lillibullero bullen a la
For Talbot's the dog and Tyrconnell's the ass
Lillibullero bullen a la

The Lyrics explained

Teague derived from the Gaelic masculine name Tadgh identifying who is speaking. The Deputy referred to is the new Lord Deputy of Ireland Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell. The two conversaionists then talk with one saying that Tyrconnell will cast out the English slitting their throats, while the other one points out that the law is on the side of the English to which his fellow states that the law of the Catholic Church overrules that and would allow them to do away with English law and hang its liberties first laid down in Magn Carta.  The Commissions galore refers to the cashiering of Protestant officers from the Irish Army and replacing them with officers from the Catholic gentry as well as Catholic middle classes. Following that the subjects of the song talk about persecuting non Catholics. Followed by the widespread believe at the time in prophecies and ancient writings among people in Ireland. The Refrain ‘Lillibullero’ is apparently based on the watchword of insurgents in Ulster during the rising of 1641.Although it has also been interpreted as a garbled version of the Irish words Lile ba léir é, ba linn an lá, "Lilly was clear and ours was the day" referencing the heraldic symbol of the Kingdom of France.
We know that the tune was played at the Battle of the Boyne. Accounts of who witnessed the advance of the Dutch Blue Guards across the river recall that their corps of drums were playing “the popular lillberlero.” This means Lillibullero is probably the only tune you might hear on the twelfth that was actually played at the Boyne. 

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Mississippi State Flag

Mississippi State flag 1894-2020
On 28th  June 2020, the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill to repeal the sections of the Mississippi State Code which made provisions for a state flag, mandate the removal of the former flag from public buildings within 15 days of the bill's effective date, and establish a commission to design a replacement that would exclude the Confederate battle flag and include the U.S. national motto. The Governor signed the Bill into law on 30th June.
The current flag being the subject of controversy due to the inclusion of the Confederate Battle flag in the Canton. 
Interestingly however this is neither the first State flag nor the state flag used in the US Civil War. 
The first flag to be formally adopted by the Mississippi Convention was a white flag featuring the state tree of Mississippi the Magnolia tree. It had a blue canton with a single white five pointed star. Everything surrounded by a red border. 
Mississippi flag 1861-1865
Public Domain
After the Civil War official use of this flag ceased and the current flag was adopted in 1894. 
So Given that a new a law has been passed to change the flag I'm going to throw my metaphorical hat into the ring with a proposal. It is largely based off the Mississippi design in my American State flag redesigns post but as I am not seeking to redesign all the state flags to conform to a uniformed patter without the restrictions I placed on myself in that post.
So here is my first attempt:
It is features all the colours of the current/old flag and the layout is reflective of the three blue, white and red bars of that flag. However rather than bars I used white waves to symbolise the Mississippi River. Above is a heraldic representation of the flower of the Magnolia tree which is the state tree of Mississippi. I would rather not have put text on it but given the law states a new flag for some reason must have the US national motto on it, I have placed it in a circular layout in the centre of the flower. 
Considering that flags are moving objects I thought it might be better if the Magnolia blossom was off centre towards the hoist almost like a canton. This way it should be more visible both when the flag is waving and at rest. 
I am a big fan of American state flags featuring a star as if that is their star in the national flag.

I would like to put a star in the centre of the blossom so that is the case with this flag, however with the motto I think the addition of the star might clutter things. Generally speaking less is more when it comes to flag design, however I still tried this anyway to see how it would look and I don't think it looks to bad.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Boris' Plane: the flag is correct!

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The aeroplane used by the Prime Minister among other VIPs recently received a new paint scheme. The aircraft is a Royal Air Force Voyager Multi Role Tanker Transport(a military version of the Airbus A330) and before that wore the standard grey livery used by combat aircraft (the aircraft continued to be and evidently still is used to perform air to air refuelling operations when not transporting VIPs). Operated by No 32 (The Royal) Squadron who fly Royalty and Government members & officials it was though a paint scheme that marked the aircraft out as something more high profile would promote the UK better. The price tag has received some criticism in the media but I will not talk about that here as I generally like to avoid politics (although apparently the aircraft had other upgrades and maintenance performed on it as well as a new livery).
RAF Voyager VIP refueling a pair of F-35B Lightnings

 What I am going to talk about is the comments that many social media commentators picked up on is that the Union Jack pattern seems to depict the design upside down.  Firstly I am pleased at the number of people who apparently can tell if the Union Flag is the correct way up, as incorect Union Flags are one of my pet hates.  However I digress to my opening statement about a little knowledge. For the flag is displayed correctly. While it is true when drawing the flag the hoist side (the pole end) is generally depicted on the viewer's left this is not always the case. When painted on the side of a vehicle or aircraft the hoist is depicted in the forward direction. This is evident in the UK flag protocol. There is a fair point that the stylised paint-job implies that the hoist is at the rudder end of the tail but even in this the RAF (who I am sure know about aircraft markings) evidently decided the protocol still applies. If one looks at the port side of the aircraft you will notice not only is the hoist forward facing but appears on the viewer's left.

Despite statements pointing out the protocol the print media has picked up on the story and is recirculating the myth that the flag on the plane used by the PM, members of the Royal Family and other British representatives is upside down which is erroneous (this Red Top even shamelessly linked to the Flag Institute protocol page that states how the flag should be displayed on an aircraft while saying the flag was upside down. The journalist evidently not taking the time to read the whole thing!). So I hope this post corrects the record.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Railroad Tycoon 3: Alternate USA

Railroad Tycoon 3 might not be the greatest strategy game or have the best graphics but I like it. Particularly with the coast to coast expansion pack. One of the scenarios 'Alternate USA' begins in an early 20th century America were the Revolutionary War never happened. As such the continental USA is divided into 10 different nations. The player starts in the Great Plains Union in the centre and has to build relations with the other countries by building a railway to each one and then transporting a select number of a certain type of cargo to it each year. It is a hard but fun scenario. Anyway being the flag geek I am I wondered what the flags of these countries might be so I have some designs.

Great Plains Union 

There is not a lot of information given about the country you start in other than its mostly agricultural. I suspect it might be predominantly of Native American origin although that might be me thinking of the Plains Nations factions from Empire Total War.

The flag is based on that of Colorado, but with an arrow head emblem in the centre

 New England

New England is the nation from which most of the other nations trace their origins from. It remained loyal to the British Empire during Dixie's war of independence in the 1860s and eventually gained its own independence through diplomacy and politics. 
Even though it is independent the fact that it gained its independence through diplomacy leads me to believe that New England might be a Dominion like Canada and share the British monarch as head of State so an ensign based flag is still in use. The badge with the Cross of St George and the pine tree is based on historic New England Flags.


 Originally the southern British colonies were administered from New England but they broke away in a civil war in the 1860s. They  eventually gained their independence from both Britain and New England with help from France to form a country called Dixie.

Inspired by the real life US flag. At first the Dixie rebels used the New England flag but with the Union Canton replaced with stripes. As Dixie broke away from New England the shield was replaced with one solely representing Dixie. This featured the rattlesnake which was a symbol of the American colonies.


Originally part of Dixie the territory was given to France in exchange for French intervention in securing Dixie's independence. 

As the American Revolution never happened its probably a good bet the French Revolution also never happened in this alternate history or at least happened at a different time. So the Fleur de Lys is the French element, the cross representing Catholicism and the rattle snake the historic link to Dixie.

Great Lakes Confederation

  Consisting principally of German settlers who moved west after arriving in New England. These settlers founded the Ohio Territory. This territory eventually grew enough until it was offered membership in New England but instead it declared itself a republic. The other territories around the Great Lakes allied themselves with Ohio; Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. This collection of states became the Great Lakes Confederation.

The Great Lakes flag features four bars of black, red, yellow and white representing the German origins of the citizens. The centre blue bar represents the water of the lakes with a star representing each of the republics in the confederacy. 


Consisting of nearly all the west coast of what we would recognise as the Continental United States, Pacifica was settled by colonists moving west from New England and its the territories. During the civil war between New England and Dixie, Pacifica took advantage of New England's distraction and also declared independence. New England focused on the war with Dixie was in no position to constest this, and the game states that "its said New England's true lose in the war with Dixie was Pacifica"

Pacifica's flag is based on the current flag of California as that region makes up the majority of its territory plus who doesn't like the California flag? However as the territory of pacifica is more than California I have included the colours of the Cascadian region (I'm actually a little disapointed the game didn't use the name Cascadia for this country) as Pacifica's borders nearly matches the US part of that region. 

Arizona Republic

One of the problems that Pacifica suffered from was that it had poor relations with the natives who originally occupied the land. In an attempt to pacify the region's tribes Pacifica offered the Navajo People the region of Arizona to settle if they would cease hostile resistance and encourage the other Native Nations to follow their example and lead. This the Navajo and many other tribes accepted but instead of living under Pacifica rule they declared Arizona an independent nation.

The flag is based on that of the real Navajo Nation but with the gold star of Arizona in the centre.


Like Arizona, Roosevelt was initially part of Pacifica. Roosevelt is the largest of the American nations in terms of landmass consisting of all the territory west of the Great Plains Union as far as the Rocky Mountains. It borders Pacifica, the Arizona Republic, the Great Plains Union, the Great Lakes and Canada. It has a largely rural lifestyle with ranches being the main contributor to the economy. Disagreement with Pacifica over industrialisation, failure to provide protection from hostile native peoples and local government led the region to revolt. Lead by Theadore Roosevelt the rebellion was a success and Roosevelt became the nation's first president given his name to the country.

The roses in the hoist come from the Roosevelt coat of arms with the bull's head a reference to the ranch culture of the country.

Texahoma Republic 

Last but not least are Spanish speaking nations to the south. First is Texahoma which mainly consists of the territory of Texas and Oklahoma. Originally settled by the Spanish the country was initially the northern province of Mexico before fighting for and winning its independence.
The flag is mostly that of Texas but with the crossed peace pipe and olive branch of the Oklahoma flag under the star.


Florida's history is mostly that of it being contested by the Spanish, French and British, as a result its current territory is less than what it once was. Originally a Spanish colony Florida gained its independence from Spain in the 1820s with the help and leadership of Andrew Jackson.
The flag of Florida consists of the Spanish Cross of Burgundy defaced with a Sun. 

Thursday, 14 May 2020

the Formal Surrender of Hitler's U-boats

U-Boats moored at Lisahally, Londonderry.
 IWM Public Domain

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle of the Second World War beginning with the sinking of the liner SS Athenia by German submarine U-30 a matter of hours after the British declaration of war on 3rd September 1939. German submarine or U-Boat activity continued until the VE Day on 7th May 1945. During this battle the German Navy the Kriegsmarine attempted to cut off the United Kingdom’s overseas supply lines most notably the transatlantic routes. The U-Boat was the Kriegsmarine’s workhorse in this regard. So critical was this battle to the survival of the United Kingdom that Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill described it as his greatest fear.
Though the command of Western Approaches was in Liverpool many of the escort vessels that protected Allied convoys were based in Northern Ireland ports most notably the port of Londonderry. Derry as the city is also commonly called is the UK’s most western port and a stone frigate (naval shore base) HMS Ferret was established there in 1940. Londonderry is Northern Ireland’s second city and is situated on a tidal section of the River Foyle just before it flows into Lough Foyle and into the North Atlantic. The importance of Derry to the battle is shown that by 1943 more ships were stationed there than Liverpool, the Clyde and Belfast. At its peak the city and its outlying port facilities at Lisahally just beyond the city limits catered to 139 ocean going vessels. Following the entry of the United States into the war the city hosted a strong American presence although the bulk of Allied naval personnel were British and Canadian.
On 4th May 1945 as Berlin fell Grand Admiral Karl Donitz who had following Hitler’s suicide three days earlier inherited the leadership of Nazi Germany ordered his U-Boats to ceasefire. The message he sent them read “Undefeated and Spotless, you lay down your arms after a heroic battle without equal.” From that date U-Boats began surrendering whenever they met an Allied ship although some commanders scuttled their submarine before it fell into Allied hands.
Allied warships docked at the Londonderry Quay
While many of the crews did fight a heroic battle, Winston Churchill himself paying tribute to the ‘fortitude of the U-Boat Service’ they had quite decisively been beaten in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Commander in Chief of Western Approaches Admiral Sir Max Horton took issue with this statement. He was a veteran of the 1st World War (ironically as a submarine commander) and was aware that the Germany had blamed its defeat in that conflict on the stab in the back myth. This was the myth that the German armed forces in the field were undefeated and that Germany had lost the war because the civilians and politicians at home gave in and betrayed them. This was a myth but Horton was aware that the Nazis had used this belief to their advantage during their rise to power and it played into their rearmament and expansionist policies. Fearing that a similar myth regarding the German armed forces in the Second World War might lead to history repeating itself. Horton sought to dispel it before it could take hold so he planned a formal surrender ceremony.
Londonderry was chosen to be the place where this ceremony would take place due to the role it played but also probably for practical reasons regarding the range and seaworthiness of some of the U-boats. The first eight U-Boats sailed into Lough Foyle on Monday 14th May 1945 with a skeleton Kriegsmarine crew and under the Royal Navy command. The U-Boats flew the British white ensign and were escorted by the British, Canadian and American destroyers HMS Hesperus, HMCS Theford Mines and USS Robert I Paine. The U-Boats docked at Lisahally and their crews led by Oberleutnant Klaus Hilgendorf commander of U-1009 formally surrendered to Admiral Sir Max Horton, who had flown into nearby Royal Naval Air Station Eglington (HMS Gannet) that morning specifically for the occasion. Horton was joined by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Sir Basil Brook and Colonel Dan Bryan the Irish Free State’s Director of Military Intelligence. The event was also witnessed by many of the locally based Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen, most notably the WRNS from HMS Ferret and Fleet Air Arm personnel from HMS Gannet and HMS Shrike (RNAS Maydown).
Free Polish destroyer ORP Krakowaiak toes U-2337 out of Lough Foyle
for scuttling as part of Operation Deadlight 28th November 1945
Following the surrender more U-Boats found themselves moored on the Foyle from where they were towed of the coasts of Counties Londonderry and Donegal and systematically sank in what was known as Operation Deadlight. 116 boats were destroyed this way, being towed to three main zones where they were sunk either by scuttling, naval gunfire or aerial target practice depending on which zone they were towed to. This operation commenced on 17th November 1945 and completed on 11th February 1946.

Thus the end of Hitler’s U-Boat fleet happened in Northern Ireland. Winston Churchill said of Northern Ireland’s role

“By the grace of God Ulster stood a faithful sentinel”
“That was a dark and dangerous hour. We were alone, and had to face single-handed the full fury of the German attack raining down death and destruction on our cities and, still more deadly, seeking to strangle our life by cutting off the entry to our ports of the ships which brought us our food and the weapons we so sorely needed.
Only one great channel remained open. It remained open because loyal Ulster gave us the full use of Northern Irish ports and waters, and thus ensured the free working of the Clyde and the Mersey.
But for the loyalty of Northern Ireland we should have been confronted with slavery and death and the light which now shines so strongly throughout the world would have been quenched.
The bonds of affection between Great Britain and the people of Northern Ireland have been tempered by fire and are now, I believe, unbreakable.”
“We have traveled a hard and darksome road to victory in Europe, and at every turn in this memorable journey the loyalty and courage of Ulster have gleamed before the eyes of men.
The stand of the Government and People of Northern Ireland for the unity of the British Empire and Commonwealth and for the great cause of freedom, for which we all risked our survival will never be forgotten by Great Britain. A strong loyal Ulster will always be vital to the security and well-being of our whole Empire and Commonwealth”

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Personnel Flags of the Government (Part 2)

Continuing from Part One the next ministerial department is:

Department for International Trade

It is within this department that the Board of Trade sits and the Board of Trade has its own maritime ensign.  Although I am not sure if it is currently in use at sea I have noticed from pictures on Twitter that this flag is still used at various other department functions and I have read a news article that stated that the flag is flown from warships if the President of the Board is embarked.
Ensign of the Board of Trade
 The Department for International Trade is one of those departments that has its own insignia and the badge of the Board of Trade seems to be a part of it, I have included it in the banners for continuity.
Flag of the Secretary of State for International Trade & President of the Board of Trade
 There are currently five junior ministers within the department although two of them appear to be in relation to the current Secretary of State's twin role as Minister for Women & Equalities (which doesn't seem to have its own department)
1st Minister of State with no specific title

2nd Minister of State with no specific title
Minister for Investment

Minister for Equalities

Minister for Women

Department for Education

The insignia I thought for the Department of Education is a torch representing enlightenment on an open book which represents learning and manifestation. It is flanked by the national plants of the UK.
Flag of the Secretary of State for Education
There are currently  five junior ministers under the Education Secretary of State, two ministers of state and three parliamentary under secretaries
Minister for Universities

Minister for School Standards
Minister for Children and Families

Minster for Apprenticeships & Skills

Minister for the School System

Department for Work and Pensions 

I admit I found it difficult to think of appropriate symbolism for this but eventually settled on a book with a torch with a snake around it supported by the Royal Supporters. The book is closed which contrasts with an open book as a closed book is traditionally associated with counsel and can hence be representative of careers advice. The department mandate also includes apprenticeships which is a form of training so hence the torch of enlightenment. The Department is also responsible for Health & Safety at Work legislation and this is reflected by the snake which is in effect turning the torch into a Rod of Asclepius
Flag of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
there are five junior ministers in this department under the Secretary of State all of whom have a title
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work

Minister for Employment

Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion
Minister for Welfare Delivery

Minister for Work and Pensions

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

The badge for this department features a flaming Grecian brazier representing the food part of the title. The rural element is represented by a heraldic crown usually only found in the heraldry of Scottish unitary authorities and that is the Wheat Sheaf Crown. The Wheat Sheaf Crown is used by Scottish councils in a similar manner as to how English and other European unitary authorities might use a mural coronet. I initially wanted to use a simple wheat sheaf, but being placed above the brazier thought it might look like it was catching fire! So instead decided to use this Scottish heraldic device instead. The wreath of oak leaves represents the environment. Trees being a prominent symbol of the environment and being used in the logos of  bodies like the environment Agency in general and oak being used specifically by organisations like the National Trust.
Flag of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
There are currently four junior ministers in this department under the Secretary of State, with one also being a minister in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Minister for the Pacific & the Environment

Minister for Rural Affairs & Bio Security
1st Parliamentary Under Secretary with no title

2nd Parliamentary Under Secretary with no title

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

The badge for this department is a cross design of the floral emblems of the UK entwined. I remember seeing this design on an old coin probably a Victorian shilling. Around this is a chain which along with the floral emblems represents local communities being linked together on a national scale. Unlike the other emblems which are topped with a royal crown this is topped with a mural coronet, which is reflective of a city's wall in ancient times and is generally used by unitary authorities hence representing local government and housing.
Flag of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
There are only three junior ministers under the Secretary of State for this department.
Minister for Housing

Minister of State with no specific title
Minister for Local Government and Homelessness

Department for Transport

Like the Department for International Trade the Department of Transport had its own maritime ensign which featured a railway wheel and anchor:
Ensign of the Ministry of Transport
I am not sure if this flag is used at all in any capacity, however its badge makes a good base for the department's insignia, although I added a pair of wings so that land, sea and air transport is represented.
Flag of the Secretary of State for Transport
There are currently five junior ministers under the Secretary of State for Transport but strangely none of them seem to have any titles

1st Minister of State with no specific title

2nd Minister of State with no specific title
1st Parliamentary Under Secretary without a title

2nd Parliamentary Under Secretary without a title

3rd Parliamentary Under Secretary without a title

Northern Ireland Office

I initially started to sort of design an Irish variant of the Royal Coat of Arms similar to the Scottish replacing the Order of the Garter with the Order of St Patrick and replacing the Scottish Unicorn with an Irish elk like on the Northern Ireland coat of arms. However I stopped short of rearranging the shield and instead added an inner shield of the De Burgh arms like on the Great Seal of Northern Ireland (which I thought was more appropriate as the Secretary of State is also the Keeper of the Great Seal of Northern Ireland).
Flag of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Like most of the regional departments there is only one junior minister in this department.
Minister of State with no specific title

Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland

The Scotland Office use a Scottish variant of the Royal Coat of Arms as used by HM Government and I see no reason to change this.
Flag of the Secretary of State for Scotland
There is one Junior Minister in the Scotland Office
Minister for Scotland

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

The Wales Office had until recently used the original Royal Badge of Wales. I am not sure why they stopped but I decided to bring it back.
Flag of the Secretary of State for Wales
Like the other regional departments there is one junior minister
Parliamentary Under Secretary with no title

Office of the Leader of the House of Lords

One of the two houses of Parliament the Leader of the Lords Office hence uses the Portcullis badge of the Palace of Westminster and the UK Parliament, coloured red which is the colour of the House of Lords. 
Flag of the Leader of the House of Lords
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

This was a difficult badge to create as it had to have traditional heraldic images for modern concepts like digital technology. Starting with the arts, I decided to focus on music and hence used a lyre harp which is the symbol of musicians. Inside this is a beacon which represents broadcasting, behind this is two crossed lightning bolts representing digital technology. Above the beacon are two crossed quills which can represent both written journalism and visual art. In heraldry sport and sportsmanship is often represented by symbols of hunting and so at the very top is a bugle horn which as well as sport also doubles as another musical symbol.
Flag of the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
There are five junior ministers within the department at present all of whom have titles.

Minister of Digital and Culture
Minister for Media and Data
Minister for Digital Infrastructure

Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage

Minister for Civil Society and Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Department for International Development

 It literally appears to be a copy of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office with the same people in the same roles. However since I did not know this when I designed the flags I thought I might as well share them anyway. I reused the symbolism of a globe but in order to distinguish it from the foreign office I used an armillary globe with the torch of enlightenment.
Flag of the Secretary of State for International Development
There are five junior ministers in this department who are also junior ministers in the Foreign Office.

Minister for Middle East and North Africa

Minister for Pacific & the Environment

Minister for Asia

Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth
Minister for Africa

Minster for European Neighbourhood and the Americas

Minister for the Overseas Territories & Sustainable Development

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

One of the two houses that make up the UK Parliament the flag of the Leader of the House of Commons is the same as that of the House of Lords but with the portcullis coloured green (the colour of the House of Commons)
Flag of the Leader of the House of Commons

Attorney Generals Office

The badge on the Flag of the Attorney General is the Sword and Scales of Justice with the Royal Arms imposed upon it.
Flag of the Attorney General
This flag is distinguished from the Advocate General by the non Scottish variant of the shield and the Cross of St George in the 1st quarter. Under the Attorney General is the Solicitor General who's flag also features the sword and scales of justice but with the St Edwards Crown imposed upon it.
Flag of the Solicitor General
 Last but by no means least is the Cabinet Office (there is still the office of HM's Advocate General for Scotland and the Office of UK Finance however both those offices have no junior ministers and their Secretaries of State have already been mentioned).

Cabinet Office

The Cabinet Office is the Prime Minister's office. Hence with a few exceptions its junior ministers use the Royal Coat of Arms as used by HM Government unless they have a flag for a relevant title.
The current Minister of the Cabinet Office is also the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. This is usually a ceremonial role given to a minister without a portfolio or title. The badge is of course the coat of arms of the Duke of Lancaster
Flag of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Another ceremonial title that is often given to a junior minister in the Cabinet Office is Paymaster General. The badge I designed for this is the lion passant from the Royal Crest standing on a key.
Flag of the Paymaster General
All the other junior ministers with the exception of the Minister for Defence People & Veterans (who uses the MOD flag) use the royal coat of arms.

1st Minister of State without a title

2nd Minister of State without a title

3rd Minister of State without a title

Parliamentary Under Secretary without a title
There are in addition three titles relating to the Privy Council that are usually held by members of the Government; Lord High Chancellor,  Lord President of the Council and Lord Privy Seal. At present these are held by Secretaries of State so there is no need for them to use a separate flag. However in case that should change in the future the holders of these offices could use the variant of the Royal Arms used by the Privy Council in a flag, that is the same as the Home Office but with a round shield.
Flag of the Lord High Chancellor
Flag of the Lord President of the Council

Flag of the Lord Privy Seal
That concludes the ministerial flags. I think this system works better than simply defacing Union Flags as by using the labels the same badge is able to be used more than once.