Tuesday, 31 December 2013

No flag Deal

Well the "Hass Talks" end with no real deal, while flags is only a minor issue compared with the other topics, it is good to see the frame work and progress made, hopefully local politicians will continue the process and build on the regional Northern Ireland flag idea in the near future.  

The First Minister has said that compared to six months ago significant progress has been made.  Of particular interest a "Commission on Identity, Culture and Tradition" who's immediate but not only role would be to look at flags and the roles they play was proposed.
To see a PDF of the final draft proposal click here and fallow the link, of particular interest on flags are pages 15 - 18. This could still be implemented.

I'd like to wish everyone a most happy New Year
Blythe Ne'er'd Day!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christian Flag

As this is probably going to be the last post before Christmas I thought I should focus on a Christian flag, as Christmas is (or at least is supposed to be) a celebration on the birth of our Lord Jesus. The Christian faith is separate from a lot of the other main world faiths and religions in that it has no universal recognised faith flag. However a lot of the different denominations, sub denominations and sects often have their own flags some examples of which are below:


The Church of England uses a St Georges Cross with the arms of the relevant deaconess in the canton, (in this example the deaconess of Canterbury).
The Church of Australia feature a St Georges Cross with the traditional headdress of a Bishop. The blue field reflects the colour of the national flag, with a commonwealth star which represents all the states and territories in each quarter.

The Church of Ireland simply uses the Cross of St Patrick although it the UK flag has been observed being flown from Church of Ireland buildings in Northern Ireland.

 This is the general flag used by the Anglican Communion all over the world .


The Church of Scotland uses the Cross of St Andrew defaced with its Burning Bush insignia from the Book of Exodus

 The Presbyterian Church in America uses a flame cross logo rather than the bush used in Europe on a white field

Although the Churches in America also seems to use unofficial flags like this one with the cross logo on the cross of St Andrew.

Roman Catholic

According to Flags of the World the official flag of the Roman Catholic Church is an elongated bannerette type flag divided into a gold and white field.

 However I think most people are more familiar with the flag of the Vatican City, and associate more with it.


Salvation Army
Greek Orthodox Church

There have proposals for an interdenominational Christian flag such as the one below which appeared in the early 20th Century USA.
This is a popular flag with churches of various different denominations throughout America, the symbolism of the cross in the canton is self explanatory, the colours represent the blood of Jesus (red) faithfulness (blue) and purity white. It is sometimes defaced with the symbol of church or denomination in the fly. Although it is used in the USA, Latin America and to a lesser extent in Africa it is little used in Europe and Asia (possibly because of its similarity to the American flag).
My proposal for a Christian flag is simply a white field with a gold cross:
Or a fish which was used in the early days of the Church when the Christians were persecuted by the Romans, because there are unfortunately parts of the world were people of various faiths are prosecuted, this could be used where people for whatever reason might want to identify themselves to other Christians but at the same time try to disguise the fact from others:

or alternatively a trexelon or trillium to represent the three faces of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).


Er Yin Hae Blythe Yule an a haud Hogmanay!

Everyone have a Happy Christmas and a good New Year!

Monday, 16 December 2013

CG3: Australia

As it is nearly Christmas and I don't think I'll be typing too much over the holidays and there are a few Commonwealth flags I want to write about before the Commonwealth Games begin, I think I should get a move on!
The next flag on my list is that of Australia:
According to the Australian Government website, the flag became the flag of Australia 1 January, 1901, when the Australian states became federal parts of a new commonwealth of Australia. However it did not gain official Royal Assent until 1954. So unlike other flags and as some people think, it is not something left over from the "colonial Days" (there was no colony known as Australia, but six separate British colonies which became the federal states). However as the Union Flag was used collectively by the former colonies, and despite its commonwealth status, I think its fair to say in 1901 Australia was still a dominion of empire or at least still maintained strong British links and influence. Likewise most of the colonies would have used their own versions of British ensigns on sea if not on land, and the Australian flag was evidently the next stage from that.
There are some who want a new flag primarily without the Union Jack, while others wish to keep it for historical, ancestral or cultural reasons, I can understand and respect both sides in this. In the commonwealth games quite a few nations and territories taking part have Union Jacks in their flags and it is from the view point of avoiding confusion that I think a new flag could be used, for the games at least.
Alterative Australia flags are nothing new, even before 1901, people were designing flags for an Australian nation such as the national colonial flag and similar federation flag and Eureka flag (below):
File:Eureka Flag.svg
In modern sport it is also not uncommon for the Australian fans to carry their own versions of the Australian flag, even if these are only in a fun sporting context, such as the boxing kangaroo flag that is easily available in flag shops:
Of course a flag like that couldn't be used in any formal or official context, however different flags are used in formal roles in sport. The Australian Football Federation has its own flag, although it is used alongside the Australian flag it does demonstrate the will of a formal 'sporting' flag:
I am not normally in favour of the use of coats of arms in flags however, I think the colour scheme makes a difference, If the text is removed and perhaps the complete coat of arms reduced to a shield, while not perfect I think this flag might have potential.
But the flag I would propose for the Commonwealth Games would be a simple flag in the green and gold sports colours with the Southern Cross and Commonwealth/Federal star:
However if you asked me to propose a new national flag then I would have to direct you to my favourite Australia flag proposal by Paul James on the Flags Forum:
Don't forget to look out for the "CG" in the title for more flag ideas and related posts in the count down to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. You can see past CG posts below

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

New NI Flag picking up momentum

Despite the idea of a new NI flag generally getting the cold shoulder (with a few exceptions, such as the Enterprise Minister supporting St Patrick's Saltire getting official status) lots of people have been thinking of designs (both good and bad but that's not the point), Here is last Weeks Belfast Telegraph. Some regular readers of my blog might see one or two of my designs there :)


Also I'd like to direct you to some other blog posts by different people on the subject. They might be political analyses but make interesting reading:
Am Ghobsmacht!
A Yellow Guard
I particularly like Yellow Guard's idea:
"The Single Transferable Voting system that everybody in Northern Ireland is very familiar with is designed for this sort of thing.  Put the Ulster Banner on the ballot with 5 others and let everybody decide on the same day as the Assembly elections in 2015."
I think its a very practical and realistic way of democratically choosing a flag. (that is the people choose a flag rather than a government committee).
Of course most political voices have responded negatively if at all, but to quote Cpt Jack Sparrow:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Siege Flags on the Walls of Derry

Apprentice Boys of Derry Club assisted by the Police Service and City Marshals placing the siege flags on Walker's Plinth on Royal Bastion of the historic city walls of Londonderry, and preparing the effigy of the traitor Lundy on Saturday 7th December 2013. This is done annually on the first Saturday of December to mark the anniversary of the Shutting of the Gates of Londonderry on 18th December 1688.
On the 18th December 1688 thirteen Apprentice Boys seized the keys and shut the city gates against the Earl of Antrim's Regiment know as the Redshanks, who had been ordered by the viceroy of King James II to take over the garrison of the city. Thus beginning the siege of Derry.
The siege flags are flown from the walls on the anniversaries of both the Shutting of the Gates, and Relief of Derry at the beginning and end of the siege respectfully.
The Cross of St George on the left and Green Ensign on the right were the flags used in Ireland on land and at sea at the time of the siege. St George's Cross being used on Garrisons like Londonderry and the Green Ensign used on Irish ships although it is debated if this flag had any official status, there is evidence it was used none the less.
The flag in the centre is known as the Crimson Banner and it was first hoisted on the walls and later St Columb's Cathedral by the cities Governor Colonel Mitchelburne as a symbol of defiance or distress or possibly to boost moral, depending on who you talk to. Local legend says the crimson colour comes from the flag being stained by the blood of the city's defenders although sources differ on what the original flag was, some say it was a rag dipped in blood one says it was an unused maritime ensign stained with blood. Col Mitchelburne founded the forerunner of the Apprentice Boys Clubs in 1714 and left money in his will to hoist his Crimson flag from the Cathedral on the anniversaries of the beginning and end of the siege, which continues today. As well as the walls and Cathedral the crimson flag is flown from the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, and versions are carried by Apprentice Boys clubs on parade.
At the end of the video is the effigy of the traitor Lundy. Lundy was Governor at the beginning of the siege but wanted to surrender, he is even accused of leaving the gates open one night, and of various attempts to sabotage the city's defence. He later fled the city disguised as a common soldier which is why he is remembered as a traitor. His effigy is ritually burned on the anniversary of the shutting on the gates.
For more information on the city walls, the siege, or the commemorations you can visit:
Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Website
Derry's Walls Website
Siege Hero's Trail
Or various documentaries about the siege on YouTube
BBC "The Siege"
BBC "Battle Field Britain" Clip
Museum audio-visual displays: One, Two and Three.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A short history of NI flag proposals

I wasn't going to do a post this week but I have just heard on the News that the chair of the all party talks, US Diplomat Richard Hass has asked the five main political parties in Northern Ireland about their view on a new NI flag. He is expecting a response before he arrives in the province next week to chair further talks. I sent in some ideas on possible flags to the chair and vice chair a while ago, but ever since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement of 1998 various individuals and organisations have proposed new designs.
  • 1922

Perhaps the most obvious flag is St Patrick's Saltire used in various flags including the Union Flag and Ulster Nation Flag.

It was used to represent NI alongside England, Wales and Scotland between NI's creation in 1922 to 1953 and more recently on occasion in the 21st century. it is also the centre piece on the NI police badge.
  • 1944

The World Book Encyclopaedia (Chicago 1944) shows the NI flag as a blue ensign defaced with a harp:
I am not aware of any such flag being used in this capacity and is probably just an Irish symbol inserted in the fly of a British ensign to meet the vexillologist's perceived need for a Northern Ireland flag. Or it is confusing a corrupted version of the green ensign with the Northern Ireland flag or is possibly even a proposal.
  • 1946

Another Flag is the Ulster Nation Flag:

Ever since a small movement for Northern Ireland independence was created in 1946, a flag would be needed. Initially they wanted Dominion status like Canada and Australia. The flag of this "Ulster Nation" was to be a St Patricks Cross on a St Andrews Cross with the Red Hand of Ulster and Star in the centre. This flag can still be seen today although(Ironically) mostly by unionists
  • 1953

 Next is the only NI flag proposal to ever be officially used in that capacity the Ulster Banner:
Although this is a banner of the Northern Ireland coat of arms granted in the 1920s it was not used as a flag until 1953, initially to celebrate the Queen's coronation. It was the official NI flag between 1953 and 1973, when the Northern Ireland Parliament was dismantled, This flag is still the most popular flag among unionists after the Union Jack, and still used by the Northern Ireland international football team and commonwealth games team.
  • 1998

Fallowing the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Good Friday agreement in the 1990s the Flag Institute proposed some designs for a new flag:

Both were based on a combination of the former Ulster Banner and provincial flag of Ulster, the first featured the six pointed star, however aware this might be disapproved of by nationalists proposed a second version based on a Celtic cross, neither design was officially adopted.
  • 2003

The Northern Ireland Alliance Party which sees itself as cross community proposed a flag in 2003
This rather unattractive flag was simply a map of Northern Ireland on a blue field, their was also suggestions the Giant's Causeway might be used, thankfully this flag did not gain support.
  • 2009

In 2009 the British Comedian Eddie Izzard ran around the United Kingdom for charity. In each region he carried that regions respective flag, but used his own design for NI:
It featured a green field with a dove at the top end of the fly. When asked about it he said green represented Northern Ireland, and was taken from the national football top, and the dove represent peace.
Another proposal came from Palomca and was later rebloged by the Conservative Councillor of Reading Richard Willis:

His flag consisted of St Patrick's Cross on a green field with the red hand of Ulster in a hexagon, which could symbolise both the six NI counties and/or the Giant's Causeway. Although his design received largely negative feedback on the blog the hexagon idea has been adopted in numerous other proposals.

  • 2010

In 2010 Dr Dominic Bryan of Queens University Belfast was interviewed about the Northern Ireland flag by the BBC he came up with the fallowing proposal:

It featured the colours of both UK and Republic of Ireland flags with the red hand in the centre, he also suggested an alternative red hand based on a child's hand to symbolise the future. His proposal was taken by the BBC to the streets of East and West Belfast and got a mixed response with no real progress.

If the Hass Talks reach their deadline of before the new year Northern Ireland could have a new flag by 2014!
links to the current news report

 Unfortunately but not unexpectedly the Hass talks made little to no progress on flags and emblems

Friday, 29 November 2013

Scottish Independance and the rest of the UK

Fallowing the publish of the Scottish National Party's (SNP) plan for how an independent Scotland should work, Scottish independence is once again in the news. As far as I am aware no plans have been adopted north or south of the boarder regarding heraldry and Vexillology if (and that's a big if) Scotland votes yes. Now this post does not reflect my views on the issue, its for the Scottish people to decide, but I am only exploring some of the flag issue for Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom if they vote yes.
It is unquestionable what the national flag of Scotland on land will be, it will clearly be the cross of St Andrew, and the Royal coat of arms will probably change from the current variant to the original pre union of the crowns version:
File:Royal Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg
What about flags at sea? The Scottish saltire is almost exactly the same as the maritime signal flag M(Mike). Its probable that the Scottish Red Ensign would regain official status, firstly to avoid confusion with a signal flag and secondly to fallow the red, white and blue ensign traditions of many of the Commonwealth countries.
File:Scottish Red Ensign.svg
Historic Scottish Red Ensign
My proposal for a Naval Ensign
What about Royal Standards? Would the current Royal Standard used in Scotland which also has the Royal Arms of England and Ireland on it continue to be used, or would the ancient Royal Banner of Scotland be used in stead?
I think that the current one would continue to be used, perhaps with the Queen's personal badge in the centre like the Royal Standards of other Commonwealth Realms:


Their are a few reasons why I think this. The first is the popular lion rampant is very popular, among Scots, and is often thought as an unofficial second flag of Scotland. indeed although it is still heraldically a royal standard and technically illegal to use it (both Glasgow Rangers Football Club and the SNP have been fined for unauthorised use) people often use it privately without prosecution.  
Secondly it is currently flown over the Royal residences in Scotland when the monarch is Not in residence.
Thirdly Scottish heraldry differs slightly form that of the rest of Europe, in the fact that people that represent an individual can use their coat of arms and banner in their name. As such their are a number of people who use the Lion Rampant in this role, including:
  • Heir Apparent, Duke of Rothesay (Prince Charles)
  • Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland (office currently twined with that of First Minister)
  • Scottish Lord Lieutenants (within their respective areas)
  •  Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
  •  Lord Lyon King of Arms
  • Commanding Officer of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (the senior Scottish regiment) who also has it painted on his/her vehicle.
It is also probable that a Prime Minister of Scotland or a representative like a Governor General would also use it in an independent Scotland. Likewise if an independent Scottish navy is given the title of Royal it may also be used as a naval jack.

Of course the above design is assuming that the Royal Coat of Arms of Great Britain remain, however if the monarch uses separate arms for North and South of the boarder then the Lion Rampant might be altered slightly for the monarch, perhaps with an Ermine boarder or personal badge of the queen or both:

 Thus freeing the ordinary standard for use by the appropriate people and buildings (and unofficial use as a second national flag)

But what about the rest of the United Kingdom; England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Would the Union Flag and coat of arms still keep the Scottish representation, would it be adapted or would a new flag be used?
If the Royal coat of arms is split, then it is probably likely on the arms of the remainder of the UK, that the Scottish lion, unicorn and thistle would be replaced with Welsh representation:
The Scottish lion rampant is replaced with the four lion passants of the historic royal arms of Wales. The unicorn supporter is replaced with a Welsh Dragon, and the thistle at the base replaced with a leek.  

The royal standard would also look like  this:
 Alternatively if the royal coat of arms doesn't change then it would be inappropriate for the government departments of the remainder of the UK to use a variant as is currently the case.
Perhaps HM Government would be granted a civil coat of arms using the national badges of the remaining three countries:
Of course the Northern Ireland quarter is only a proposal. However it is more than likely that if the United Kingdom was partitioned in this way, their would be separate royal arms for the separate states. But civil arms could still be worth a thought. A state flag based on the above arms is below:
This could be used as a navy jack, or personal standard of the Prime Minister, in the latter case a Westminster badge could also be used rather than a crown, and a crown reserved for Lord Lieutenants.
Of course with state coat of arms we move onto the national flag, many in the relevant flags forum thread are of the opinion that the blue of Scotland on the UK flag would be replaced with black, with perhaps some yellow for the cross of St David. Thus actually keeping the flag very similar to what is currently is.  

 However I thought of using some no Union Jack based designs:
This one I made a wee while ago and really uses the cross of St George for England, and the dragon and red hand of Ulster for Wales and Northern Ireland.
This flag based on the flag of Montreal uses the flowers of England, Wales and N.Ireland, and the cross of St George which was historically used in all three countries (although that may be unpopular outside of England).
 This flag which is probably the most practical of the three. It features the Cross of St George for England, Cross of St David for Wales and the De Burgh cross used on the Ulster flag for Northern Ireland. 
All comments welcome but remember this is a heraldic and Vexillology experiment, not any political statement of my views on the subject.

 Some other related posts

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Iberian Penincular

I got the idea for this post after watching a video on YouTube about the evolution of the national flags of the Iberian Peninsular (Spain and Portugal). See below:
I thought what if there was a flag for the Iberian Peninsular? Perhaps for a political union, or for a monetary union or joint sport team or even just as a geographical flag? 
I admit I am not the first person to think about this, and quick search on YouTube will find flag designs for both fictitious states and alternative history. Here are a few of my favourites:

 This flag for a fictitious state, possibly inspired by the UK Flag, combines the early flag of Portugal, with what appears to be a saltire cross in the Spanish colours probably based on the cross of Burgundy.  Both the Spanish and Portuguese coat of arms (including the supporters) are combined.
This flag combines the Current Spanish flag, with the flag that was used by the old Portuguese Monarchy. Again the coat of arms are combined but with the Portuguese shield being placed in the centre. The use of the old flag of Portugal and use of the crown suggests this alterative history state is a monarchy.
Some flags are/were used by the Iberian Federalism movements, which also use the colours of spain and the old Portugal flag:
This flag of Iberia was created by a Catalonian diplomat in  1854, although it has no official status in any country it is technically older than the current flags of both Spain and Portugal. Despite the fact it is a little outdated supporters of Iberian Federalism continue to use these colours today. Personally I don't like it, it looks like some sort of signal flag and reminds me of the House Flag and Jack of the ship company P&O :
Which is no coincidence as in its early days the company initially sailed ships between England and Spain an Portugal. 

Personally I think the best flag I saw and the one I am going to base my proposal on is this:

It combines the current flags of the two countries, it also combines the coat of arms two.
My design is based on this but only using the shield of the coat of arms:
Normally I don't like putting coats of arms on flags but without one I don't think the flag works as well without it. I left out any monarchist or republican symbols so it would be acceptable in a non political context like sport. Perhaps an alternative to the arms are two stars representing the two countries:

 Stars I think are more neutral in any kind of environment as coats of arms seem to suggest a political union, where stars allow it to be used in sport, or simply in a geographical nature.