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.

Friday, 15 November 2013


the second in a series of posts in the countdown to the Commonwealth Games. The first team I am going to look at is Anguilla.
Like most British Overseas Territories the Anguilla flag consists of a British blue ensign defaced with the territories arms:
File:Flag of Anguilla.svg
While the use of ensigns at sea (which is where the flags were originally only meant to be used) is good. I think events like this highlights the impracticality of flags like this on land and at sporting events. For example a lot of countries and territories in the games use similar flags like this, these could be easily mistaken on a scoreboard.
I am of the opinion that Overseas territories at least should fallow the example of Gibraltar. At sea Gibraltar vessels use an ensign with the territories arms:
However on land and for sporting events a banner of arms is used as the territories flag:
As a result Gibraltar has a more distinct and recognisable flag than any other BOTs and has not lost any of its identify or sovereignty as some people might say in regards to changing flags.
Anguilla also has the advantage as it doesn't need a new flag, it could use the rather good Dolphin flag that was used when it declared independence from the former Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, in 1967 until it chose to regain UK sovereignty in 1969:

 This flag is still in used in the form of arms on the current flag, and is still used unofficially today, so it is perhaps the best option for a flag in the Commonwealth Games at least.
To see the first Commonwealth Games Post click here, and remember to look out for the 'CG' in the title for future Commonwealth Games posts.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

N.Ireland close to New Flag?

Northern Ireland might be close to getting a new flag.
In NI at the moment their is a panel made up representatives of the main parties in the Northern Ireland Executive, to try to find a solution to issues like flags and symbols, parading and how the past is dealt with, things that hamper community relations and have still not yet been resolved. the media has dubbed these negotiations the "Haass Talks" as it is independently chaired by the former US Envoy to Northern Ireland, Ambassador Richard Haass. In the run up to these the "Independent Chair and Vice Chair of the Panel of Parties in the NI Executive on Parades and Protests, Flags, Symbols and Emblems, and Related Matters and the Past" (a long name, but I guess it says it all!) asked for the opinions and ideas of organisations and members of the public.
I sent in a query about an official new Northern Ireland Flag, and have received a replay suggesting that a new NI Flag will be one of the things the panel will be discussing. Although the politicians here would disagree on the colour of the sky, I am hopeful as this is probably the closest Northern Ireland has come to getting its own flag since 1973, and I didn't want to keep this to myself.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Chelsea Pensioners

Coming up to Remembrance Sunday I wanted to do something veterans related. My first thought was the Royal British Legion, who support ex service men and women, the wounded and their families and those bereaved as a result of war through the poppy appeal.  However as they already have a standard design for a flags and ceremonial colours, this seemed a little pointless.
So my attention turned towards the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is a retirement and nursing home for old soldiers. Its in-pensioners (affectionately known as the Chelsea Pensioners)  are famous throughout the country and are easily identified by their long scarlet coats and tricorne hats and shakos. Chelsea Pensioners contain many Second World War Veterans and often play a key role in Remembrance events across the country, they also have their own local parade called founders day, when they celebrate the hospital's founder Charles II. Despite their long history and military based culture, I was surprised that the Chelsea Pensioners don't have any colours (although their is a ceremonial mace that is carried on Founders Day). So I had ago at designing a colour for the hospital:
Its pretty basic, its a gules field with the hospital insignia in the centre (I overlooked the fact their is no Welsh or Irish representation!) The cyphers of Charles II and the current patron of the hospital are counter changed with dates, in the coroners. 1682 is the year the hospital was founded and 2002 was when the Sovereign's Mace was presented. Below the insignia is the date (Hour. Day. Month. Year) the exact time and date WW1 ended and the time and day of the national silence every year.  I wasn't completely satisfied so I changed some things:
My aim here was to make things more simple, I kept one cyher, that of Charles II and moved the time and date of the WW1 armistice to the bottom fly. I changed the field to a brighter scarlet to better reflect the Chelsea Pensioner uniform. (I also put Irish and Welsh representation into the badge ;-) )
here is link to the Chelsea Pensioners website or for their blog click here.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Celtic Nations

These designs are part of an alternate history idea from the flags forum, for a flag of a Union of Celtic Nations. Specifically, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany and England, (although it isn't really Celtic). The flag often sold in flag shops as the "Celtic Nations" Flag is rather unimaginative, and in my opinion ugly:
Although the Ancient British Isles and Northern Europe coastline consisted of many different groups of people (Britons, Saxons, Vikings, Romans, Picts etc) the regions represented in the above flag are generally considered to have been overwhelmingly Celtic, although various historians dispute the extent, as this is alternative history, we don't have to worry about any of that. For the interest the regions represented in the above flag are from left to right: Brittany(France) Isle of Mann (UK) Scotland (UK) Ireland (Irish Tricolour in this case representing the island) Cornwall (UK) and Wales (UK).   The trilogy/treskilion being used as an uniting symbol.  
Given the fact that all of the regions (except Brittany) are in the British isles my first design was based on the Union Flag:
Like the Union Flag it is a combination of Crosses for the respective regions. The Crosses in the flag are St Patrick's Saltire (Ireland), St Andrew's Saltire (Scotland), Cross of St George (England, including Cornwall), Cross of St David (Wales) and Kroaz Du(Brittany). Unlike the Union Flag the saltires of Ireland and Scotland are on top of the other crosses as these nations are often regarded as the most Celtic. I also added the treskilion to the centre.
Given the fact that this flag has an awful lot to take in on it, and the fact it has to represent a union of six countries and the fact I forgot about the Isle of Man (I apologise to any Manx readers), I felt a different design was necessary.
This design is also based on a cross, the Celtic Crosses that were erected by early Christians throughout the British Isles (particularly Ireland and Scotland):
Again I have included a central treskilion. Their is no representation of any individual country of region, allowing the flag to be more flexible. The colours don't have any official meaning, but green and blue can be connected to Ireland and Scotland if the individual wishes. To see more designs visits the forum by clicking the link Here.