Friday, 15 June 2012

Falkland Islands Flag

It has been announced this week that Falkland Islanders will hold a referendum on their "political status" which currently is a self governing British Overseas Territory. While it is expected that nearly everyone will vote to keep British sovereignty I think now is a good time for a what if scenario. What if the islands became an independent country in the Commonwealth of Nations. What would their flag be? or what if the United Kingdom trying to find some middle ground with Argentine ports(which refused access to vessels flying the Falklands flag) decided to change the flag to a non ensign based design in a similar way the Gibraltar flag is no longer based on an ensign. Now I believe the people should determine their own future this is in no way political its only a 'what if' or alternative reality for fun.
Now the current flag of the Falkland Islands approved by the Ministry of Defence and used by the Islands Government is this:
                              File:Flag of the Falkland Islands.svg
It is a British Blue ensign defaced with the Islands coat of arms. A red ensign version of is used on Civil Ships registered in the islands. 
Now if the islands did become independent I think it is more than likely they would continue to used this flag. Same way Fiji and the cook islands kept their flags. But if they decided to change to a new flag or again alternatively if they change to a different flag like Gibraltar I propose a design featuring the coat of Arms on an uneven Blue and White striped field. 
    Here the shield is off centre towards the hoist which is very common on flags and is my personal favourite
                              The shield is centred which to be honest I don't think works as well

                                         The shield is less prominent and placed in the canton 

Now if the islands go independent the elected leader the chief executive would become the national leader and like any nation would deserve a personal flag:
A relatively simple flag an equal blue and white field with the island coat of arms in the centre. Assuming that they stay in the Commonwealth they would likely keep the Queen as head of state and therefore keep a governor or representative of the Queen. The current governor's flag is the standard design with governors of all UK territories. A union flag defaced with a wreath and the territories coat of arms: 
                               File:Flag of the Governor of the Falkland Islands.svg
My designs for a new post independence governor's or Royal representative flag are:
              The islands coat of arms on a plain blue field topped with Royal crown and the Queens initials

The other version is based on the flag of the Chief Executive but the coat of arms is flanked by the Royal Cypher 

What about the flag of the armed forces? Apart from the UK military personnel who regularly are deployed there is a small territorial unit of local volunteers in the Falkland Islands Defence Force(FIDF), which is funded and equipped by the local government. I have been unable to find out if they have a flag and if so what it looks like but they do have a unique cap badge. So I based a possible flag on that:
 It clearly has the badge in the centre on the a field that resembles the badge and the colours of sea, air and land forces behind them. This unit operates on all 3 fields and so would do more so if independence was given. Which leads on to what symbols would be used on the water and in the air? The naval section FIDF I think would fly their own ensign on patrol craft:

These are the Naval section flags for used at sea in ensign form only hence the crowned anchor. It appears I am not the only one thinking what if? As I have come across these aircraft roundels on the internet(not my design):

All just a what if situation for fun. I certainly enjoyed making these designs.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

American State flag alternatives part 1

I think American state flags are often(but not always) dull and unimaginative. Many simply consist of the State seal. On top of this a lot of these seals are anything but simple. While this is OK for use on official letters and documents it can be extremely hard to identify flags. The flags are also often overly complicated which i think is not good for a working flag. All current USA state flags are below:
Because there are so many states I think it would be a good idea to introduce a standard design for State flags, that both represent the individuality of the state and its Nationality aka American. For example most UK overseas territories use a deface blue ensign with the regions coat of arms(see link).
While this is not idea for ALL US States as many don't have coats of Arms I think it is a good place to start. I propose the fallowing standard design:
It is clearly influenced by the standard design of flag for UK Overseas territories. I should highlight at this point that I am not comparing states to territories. The 50 stars in the canton symbolise the sovereignty to the whole USA. The single star symbolises the state, and the coat of arms is self explanatory.
I have made a couple of flags loosely based on this standard design:
                                                                           New Jersey
                                                                           New York
                                                                          North Dakota

New England presents a good opportunity as it is not a state but a body of states. So I have developed flags representing their New Englander identity.  I have developed state flags based on defaced historic New England flags and ensigns: 
                                                                       New Hampshire

There are two states which have coat of arms that I left out. Because their coat of Arms are relatively simple and work well in the form of a banner for this I designed a standard version and banner based version:

                                         Alabama standard state flag (top) and banner (below)

                                                          Missouri standard state flag version
 Missouri banner version (note I replaced the USA seal with a star and added the red, white and blue design from the original flag. As I feel that the USA seal need not appear on it but that's just my personal taste. 

I will make another post on other state flag ideas. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Welsh Union Flag

The United Kingdom is made up of four countries. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Three of these countries have representation in the national flag.
The lack of Welsh representation is clearly noticeable when the flag is broken down like this.The reason for this is that at the time of the 1606 union Wales was seen as a Principality of England. But in modern UK Wales is a self governing region with equal status of the other three nations within the UK. However unlike when the Kingdom of Ireland became an equal partner in the UK no adjustments or changes to the flag have been made. The flag of Wales used by the devolved Welsh Government, Wales Office and sports teams is a red dragon on a green and white field:
                           File:Flag of Wales 2.svg
This flag was adopted in this form in 1959 although its origins are very ancient. A number of proposals have been made to incorporate the dragon in the Union Flag:
In my opinion this is ugly and unimaginative. But I do feel there is a solution. If one looks at the Northern Ireland flag (Which as is mentioned in my last post was only official between 1953-73) and NI's representation you will see that they are completely different. the NI flag bearing the red hand of Ulster, where the Union Jack bears St Patrick's cross. NI is in effect represented by the flag of it's patron saint. So therefore I would include the cross of St David to represent Wales:
                      File:Flag of Saint David.svg
Some people have come up with designs featuring this:
The problem with these is that they change the flag completely, and generally speaking British people don't usually like big radical changes. My solution to this is very much in-line of putting St David's cross behind that of St George:

It is still recognisable as the Union Jack and the change is minimal but all four nations are represented. The cross of St David is clearly visible behind that of St George which has retained it white edge.

Northern Ireland Flag?

My cousin is going to the states and for some reason needed a flag from where she was from. Living in Northern Ireland I gave her an Ulster Banner but I can't help think she's taking a flag that does not officially represent her.
Flags in my part of the world can often be a delicate and controversial subject. The Fact is that Northern Ireland is the only constituent country of the United Kingdom that does not have its own official legal flag.
The story of the Northern Ireland flag really begins with the creation of Northern Ireland as a constituent country of the UK. The Irish Free State(later the Republic of Ireland) broke away from the UK in 1921/2. In 1925 the local Northern Ireland government was its own coat of arms by Royal Warrant. Shown below: 
 The main feature of this is the Red hand in a crowned six pointed star(representing six counties). This comes from province of Ulster Flag,
 The NI government was also granted the right to display their arms on a flag or banner. However this was not done until 1953 the year Elizabeth II was crowned. This is what it looks like:
    File:Ulster banner.svg
This served as the official flag until the Northern Ireland was brought under direct rule from London due to the NI government failing to control a recent outburst of violence and was abolished in 1973. This flag is still used by sporting bodies that represent NI international such as the International football team and Commonwealth Games team for example. But since the new Local Assembly has been established it has failed to adopt or readopt any flag. Part of the problem is political sensitivity.
I have drawn up several designs most spread across the internet. But here is my first design of a flag and coat of arms:

The coat of Arms is basically an improved version of the old one, featuring the six flax flower logo of the Northern Ireland assembly and Giant's Causeway stones with shamrocks.  The flag staffs bear St Patrick's Saltire  and  Ulster Flag. The symbolism of the tricolour is to represent more than peace between Unionism and Nationalism but as fallows:
Blue: Unionism, Royalty, Close links with Scotland, Maritime heritage, the Sea, beauty of the inland waterways,constancy, faith, good health, truth, clean air,healing, hope, friendship,patience, wisdom, peace, loyalty.
White: Peace, truth, purity, peace, protection, happiness,joy, glory 
Green: Nationalism, natural beauty, countryside, agricultural heritage,reshness and renewal, fertility and growth,harmony, vitality, healing,Green is associated with the direction of North.hope 
The symbolism of the crowned harp is important, the harp is mostly an Irish Nationalist symbol but also appears of the UK coat of Arms and the Royal Coat of arms and flag. Its also been incoperated into the badges of police and Irish regiments in the British Army. The crown is based on an ancient Irish crown. The inspiration for this was the Scottish crown which replaces the UK crown on many symbols. The Royal Mail in Scotland has the Scots crown but the UK crown everywhere else. Hopefully creating a N.Irish identity that does not conflict with Irishness or Britishness, but weaves into both.
I also picked these colours as they are prominent in (mostly unionist supported) Northern Ireland Football team supporters flags. I have played about a little though and come up with the fallowing flags in case a tricolour based flag even if different from that of the Irish Republic is rejected by unionists(even though I designed it):

This demostrates how it can be turned on its side. The Red hand and hexagon is symbolic of not only the 6 NI counties but also the Giant's Causeway. the last flag with text bears "Northern Ireland" in English, Irish and Ulster-Scots the three main languages and dialects spoken in the province.

  St Patrick's Saltire has been used to represent Ireland for centuries and features in the UK flag(the only flag with any legal status in NI) and the badge of the  reformed police service(below) which all political parties agreed on:
One wonder's why a design based on this cross was not used in the first place? Most importantly this design is politically neutral (supposedly) and I have incorporated it into some designs. The first one:

The crown of state symbolises the British identity of Northern Ireland and its relationship with and place in the United Kingdom. The Harp symbolises the Irish identity of Northern Ireland and its relationship with the rest of the island. The flag on the flag staff represent the Loyalist and Republican traditions the orange flag with the purple star is based on the 'Boyne Standard' associated with the Orange Order. The green flag is a prominent Nationalist symbol.
I have also designed a yellow version of the flag making it more like the Ulster Flag and a version that replaces the Unionist/Nationalist symbols with symbols of peace:

The main problem (I have) with these flags is that there is a lot going on, and I feel that often the simpler a flag is the better. So my latest design is as fallows:

The main difference with the other designs is that the flag is not simply a banner of the coat of arms. But rather displays the shield of the arms. Replacing the Unionist/Nationalist flags on the coat of arms with St Patrick's Saltire(neutral) which is also on the flag itself, and a blue harp flag similar to the one on the Royal Standard and personal flag of the president of the Republic. So if you look to London or Dublin you should be able to associate with these arms. I also included an olive wreath in the design of the shield representing the peace process which I think goes very well. I also used a lighter paler yellow which does not conflict with the red too much.

These are what I consider my best designs. I might post the other ones in a later post, I will also make a guide to flags in Northern Ireland in a later post. Bye for now.