Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hong Kong protest flag

A quick post about some protest flags in Hong Kong. The situation there is attracting a lot of interest in the UK as Hong Kong used to be a British colony and the decision of the Chinese government is seen as a treaty violation of guaranteeing Hong Kong's democratic institutions.
Flag of British Hong Kong
Interestingly the colonial flag appears to have been popular with protesters in Hong Kong, although I haven't seen any in what's being called the "umbrella revolution":
Another flag appears to drop the Union Jack and white disk, leaving the coat of arms on a blue field:
Another flag I saw on the internet keeps the white disk, but drops the colonial coat of arms. I am not sure if this so called pearl of the sea flag is used or if its just a proposal:
I made a protest flag design based on the colonial flag:
It keeps the white "Pearl of the Sea" and replaces the Union Flag with an orchid tree petal, representing Hong Kong sovereignty. If you want to put a coat of arms in the disk, you could use:
A version of this coat of arms design I based on the colonial arms:
I refined the design to this:

Sunday, 28 September 2014

New Council Logo

As of April next year (2015) my local council along with several councils in Northern Ireland, will merge with neighbouring councils. This is part of a program of reducing the twenty six district councils in the province to about eleven so called super councils. Derry City Council will merge with Strabane District Council.
There will of course be the political winners and losers as a result of this, however my concern is that the Londonderry coat of arms, which in its current form date from the modern city established in 1613, (but elements are possibly much older) may officially become defunct.
The Londonderry coat of arms are:
City coat of arms carving in the Guildhall
I think that the city coats of arms belong to the city rather than council, it is certainly used by various organisations from the city, It was not until 1952 that letters potent gave the Londonderry Corporation, the predecessor of the current city council,  the legal right to use the arms (which it already was doing) and linked to the city, On all documents the arms are referred to as the city coat of arms rather than council or corporation arms. So no doubt the historic arms will legally survive in some form.
For those interested the city arms feature: Sable, a human skeleton Or seated upon a mossy stone proper and in dexter chief a castle triple towered argent on a chief also argent a cross gules thereon a harp or and in the first quarter a sword erect gules
The cross and sword in the chief come from the arms of the City of London, which was added to the original Derry arms of "ye picture of death (or a skeleton) on a moissy stone & in ye dexter point a castle." when the new city was granted its charter and London prefix in 1613. 
The symbolism of figure of death and the castle is debateable, as the exact origins are unknown. The most popular theory is that the castle represents a 14th century castle near Greencastle north of the city, belonging to the Norman Earl of Ulster Richard de Burgh. The Skeleton representing a Norman knight who starved to death in the castle dungeon on the order of the above mentioned Earl of Ulster. 
An official report in 1979 stated that there is no evidence that the figure of death represented any individual but was only "symbolic."
The most recent document in reference to the city arms is in 2002 when the College of Arms and Norroy & Ulster King of Arms issued letters potent restoring the harp to the arms (which appears to have been accidently dropped and forgotten about). 
To stop the coat of arms from disappearing completely from the local government of the city I designed a new logo for this new "super council."

The logo is primarily based on the current Derry City Council logo. The name of the new council hasn't yet been decided, it is currently being called Derry and Strabane District Council. I used Foyle (&) District Council for two reasons. 

  1. It avoids using Derry or Londonderry which have sadly become politicised, where Foyle (as in the River Foyle) is used as a neutral alternative. The electoral constituency is officially called Foyle. the local BBC radio station is called Radio Foyle and the Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners use the corporate brand of Foyle Port, although its official name has not changed.  The River Foyle also begins at Strabane with the merging of two other rivers. 
  2. Derry & Strabane District Council is a lot of words to play with in a logo. Especially if one uses the politically correct (or rather equally offensive lol) Derry/Londonderry rather than one or the other.
The coat of arms features the impaling of the above mentioned Londonderry coat of arms, with a coat of arms for Strabane. The coat of arms of Strabane District Council are:
 This isn't very good to work with so I used an older coat of arms from 1906, that was similar. It featured a boat on a river, below three towers.
The supporters are oak barchs, taken from another heraldic design I did, and reference to the supposed meaning of the word Derry. 
The crest, something I am particularly proud of features a mural coronet, which could reference Londonderry's walls, or symbolise a settlement, which is what it is normally used for in heraldry. Out of this coronet is a red hand of Ulster grasping a fish, reference to the wild life in the Foyle river basin, which is home to wild salmon amongst other species and top spot for fishing. The motto is a new motto neutral to the Vita Veritas Victoria (life, truth, victory) of Londonderry or the Con Cordia Crescit (Let Goodwill Increase) of Strabane. Duos Quasi Unum a Latin motto meaning "two as one" referencing the two councils coming together. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Development & History of Irish Flags Pt4 St George in Ireland.

Enniskillen Castle, Co Fermanagh still flies the flag of St George
A flag that is not often associated with Ireland, however it is one that has a long, complicated, and sometimes misunderstood and to a degree still controversial history on the island. In a way it is the oldest Irish flag still in use today. (by Irish flag I mean used in Ireland)  By the sixteenth century the red cross of the patron saint of England was well established as the national banner in Ireland, although it was possibly the Normans who were first to use this flag in Ireland. In 1515 the order went out the government forces in the Pale region (most of Leinster) the region of Ireland under the direct rule of the crown (the king ruled most of the island indirectly via Anglo-Irish-Norman nobility and loyal gaelic chieftains), should march under "a standard of the arms of Saint George" and a guidon of the arms of St David. (probably the Welsh dragon on the tudor colours of green and white, rather than the later St David's Cross), "in token that the King of England and of France (English Kings had a long standing claim to the French throne sine the Hundred Years War) is Lord of Ireland."
In 1537 a Portuguese ship carrying a cargo of wine fir Wexford took shelter from a storm in Co Cork. she was captured by the local chieftain who stole most of the wine. Following a rescue mission the government garrison in Waterford returned, destroyed a village and "put up St George's Standard" on the castle.
In 1557 each of the baronies of County Dublin were ordered to provide themselves "a convenient and warlike ensign with a red cross of St George therein against the day of musters." These flags were of course to be provided at the baron's own expense.
Example of Tudor ensign (not an original)
 similar flags may have been used by armies.
Government forces throughout the sixteenth century followed the practice of the English in displaying a red cross in their company colours and calvary guidons. The flags of infantry companies were usually a large square flag (although there are also reports of triangular ones) with the cross of St George in the canton, the rest of the flag was either plain or consisted of a series of horizontal stripes, the number and colours of which varied from unit to unit, but presumably not unlike the tudor naval ensigns. The flags of infantry units at the battle of Blackwater are described as having "fawn, white, red and lime yellow stripes."
The flags of this period were rather large with relatively short poles, compared to todays standards. Not much more than a handgrip or two below the flag. Accounts tell that when a company or battalion were in action, the flag bearer would hold his flag at arms length from himself and twirl it over his head! Sounds like something you might see at an American high school sporting event, rather than an Irish battle field! Exactly how this was done, or the significance or meaning behind it is not clear. Standard and guidon bearers were well paid soldiers many getting around a shilling a day, and some up to three shillings.
Depiction of an Irish battle, note the flag bearer appearing to twirl St George's Cross.

The cross of St George also appears on many of the artistic maps of Ireland, particularly those from the late sixteenth/early seventeenth centuries. In many of these the cross is accompanied by the harp. however it is interesting to note that on these maps the cross of St George occupies the position of honor. In fact it may appear that the harp only compliments the cross like a regional  sub-national symbol, while the cross is the national emblem. Sometimes both symbols are impaled on the same shield, like the arms of a married woman.
By the seventeenth Century the Cross of St George could be found flying over government garrisons, forts, towns and cities in all the four provinces of the island. Although Irish infantry colours in the 1600s grew into something distinctly different from English colours, the flag flown from garrisons was still St Georges Cross. It could be found on castles up and down the kingdom. It is even depicted on an artistic map flying over the ruins of the castle of Hugh O'Neill the former Earl of Tyrone, who led a nine year rebellion against Elizabeth I. Also depicted on this map is the stone chair which the chief of O'Neills were crowned. The symbolism clearly saying who was now in charge.
St George's Cross was probably used as a garrison flag until the Union Flag replaced it in 1707. One castle is known to still use it today though. The castle at Enniskillen in County Fermanagh flies the 'flag of St George almost daily'
the founding of the Inniskings 
In 1688 a regiment was raised in Enniskillen for the town's defence from the Jacobites of James II. Originally called Tiffins Inniskilling Regiment of Foot, it would become the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, (the incorrect spelling of Enniskillen stayed throughout the regiments history) and serve with distinction at the battle of the Boyne two years later. King William III was so impressed by the regiment that he gave them permission to use the image of a castle flying St George's Cross on their regimental colours and insignia. This castle represented Enniskillen castle were the regiment was formed, the inclusion of St George's Cross was because this was the flag they fought under in the defence of their town. This insignia was used as the regimental badge right up until 1968 when it was amalgamated with other Irish units to form the Royal Irish Rangers. However this regiment still wore the castle with St George's Cross on the collar badge of their parade dress uniforms, a tradition still carried on today by the Royal Irish Regiment.

Information board about the flag at Enniskillen Castle
Cap badge of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
depicting Enniskillen castle

Another place that annually flys St Georges Cross is the garrison city of Londonderry. Here it is flown with other flags on the city walls on the anniversary of the beginning and end of the Siege of Derry 1688-89. All three flag are those used at the time of the siege:
The green flag in the above clip is an early green ensign, the Irish flag used by ships, this flag will be covered in more detail in the Chapter about flags at sea, but as can be seen it also has a St George Cross in the canton.
Colour of the Foot Guards Regiment of Ireland
Colour of Bulkeley's Irish Regiment in the French Army
While St George's Cross on a white field was a universal garrison flag, the same was not so of the colours of Irish regiments. By the mid-late seventeenth century Irish military colours had evolved into their own unique style from the earlier striped designs of the late 1500s. The common Irish colour featured a red cross of St George with white fimbriation, The field of the flag was one or two different colours. A crowned harp was a common symbol in the middle of these flags. A symbol may also have been in the corners these varied depending on the unit, but crowns, crosses or heraldic arms were common. The Food Guards Regiment of Ireland had the arms of England, Scotland, Ireland and France in each corner. It is notable that in this divided period of Irish history, this style was used by all sides. In the glorious revolution both the Irish Jacobite army of James II and the Irish and Ulster-Scots regiments of William III used this style. This style was used until the 1707 act of Union when the Irish regiments became part of the new British Army and adopted a more standardised style. However the Irish regiments that followed James II into exile and fought in the French army's Irish Brigade continued to use this style of flag.

Flag of the Commissioners of Irish Lights until 1970
former NI flag still in  unofficial use
There are still some examples of St George's Cross in use in Ireland today, or at least its influence on modern flags. The flag of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, featured a cross of St George right up until 1970. The same basic design is still used by Irish Lighthouses, north and south but St George's Cross was changed to a St Patrick's Saltire. The cross of St George was used on the Northern Ireland flag from 1952-73, a flag still used as a de facto NI flag especially in sport and still  popular among Ulster unionists.
Likewise the Orange Banner a historic flag popular with the Orange Order and loyalist marching bands all over Ireland and Scotland feature a St George Cross in the canton. Although said to have been carried before William III at the battle of the Boyne, there is no reference to it being used by an Irish or Ulster-Scots unit. Its not just Northern flags as already seen by the Irish Lights flags the cross of St George in Ireland also has a nautical history, and a red cross still features in the flag flown from Lifeboat stations not only in the United Kingdom but also in the Republic of Ireland.

Although it may not have been a symbol unique to the island, St George's Cross could arguably be said to be the first national flag of Ireland, in the sense it was the first flag to be used by an authority for good or ill over the whole island. It is certainly a flag that has influenced other flags in Ireland directly and indirectly, and if one is to fully understand the development of flags in Ireland cannot overlook it. 

For more in this series see the links below or click the label History of Irish flags:

Also in the Series

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Federal Britain

With a clear 'No' vote on Scottish independence the question on Scotland leaving the United Kingdom has been answered, for now at least. There are many good things about this, not least of which is I won't have to buy a new Union Flag ;)  Unless Wales gets representation:

However the the question on how the UK should be governed is still being asked, and big constitutional change is coming our way. 
The question of England being included in a nation wide devolution is interesting and raises, many question, like will their be a separate English parliament and first minister, or will the UK be federalised and what would this mean for England?
Although no expert and far be from me to tell the English how they should be governed, but I think the best way for a federal UK with a similar administrative system to the USA, Germany and Brazil to name a few. In this England would be to divide into three 'federal provinces' and a Greater London Area; these along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be the federal administrative regions:
What will flags will the "English Federal Assemblies" uses? I think a standard design featuring St George's Cross is most likely. As England would no doubt retain its National identity. At first I thought about defacing the Cross of St George with an individual emblem for each 'province.'
Southern England

Central England

Northern England
The Southern England emblem is taken from a possible coat of arms of Richard I, although the number of lions is disputed.  I also put it on a blue background, as I wanted it based on the arms but not an exact copy. The central England emblem is based on the medieval royal crest. The Northern England flag is based on another North England flag, with a tudor rose as Lancashire also falls into this 'province.' The colours represent the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria which dominated the north before England was united by the saxons under Alfred the Grate. 
The emblems are generic English symbols as it was pretty impossible to use county symbols that could truly represent the region. For example one could use the Northumberland flag, for Northern England, to symbolise Northumbria. But this flag is used as the county flag of Northumberland so therefore not truly represent everyone. 
I also decided it would be better if St George's Cross remained intact, moving the emblems instead to the canton. However the above flags could be the personal flag of the First Ministers.

Southern England

Central England

Northern England
I based these flags on those of Sark and Herm . My flag design for the Grater London Administrative Area is the London flag I did a while back:
Alternatively the central portcullis could be placed in the canton of a St George flag bringing the region in line with the other English regions:
I expect Scotland and Wales would continue to use their current flags, but as Northern Ireland has no official flag perhaps it could use a St Patrick's Cross with a red hand:

Last what about the coats of arms used by the regional assemblies (or parliament in Scotland's case)? None of the devolved administrative regions currently use a coat of arms (although Wales has a Royal Badge). I think this should be corrected:


Northern Ireland

Greater London

Southern England

Central England

Northern England
The arms of the English Federal Provinces are relatively uniformed, each with lion supporters and St George's flag. The Scottish Parliament can use the pre union of the crowns coat of arms. The Welsh arms are designed by Paul James from the flag forum. The Northern Ireland arms are an old design of mine as is Greater London.
However if England is not divided but gets an English Parliament it could use a version of the English Royal Arms:
However this is about a Federal UK, so in conclusion a Federal Britain could look like this:

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Union Flag & Scotland flag on traffic lights in my neighbourhood.

Today Scotland votes on if wants to remain in the United Kingdom or not. Here in Northern Ireland where many people have strong cultural, ancestral, business and family links with the land of the Scots, the prevailing view is that the United Kingdom remains United. Today in my neighbourhood I woke up to find out these popped up overnight:
The symbolism being clear. While it is not uncommon to see flags mounted on street furniture during the Summer, two lone flags on a pelican crossing, is unusual. Just thought I'd share this picture.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Anglo-American Union

This is the result of a suggestion from a friend on Facebook of a possible union between the UK and USA. The basic scenario that the United Kingdom, whose (global influence has declined with her empire) and the United States (who is expected to lose her superpower status in the future), unite as a single state to reaffirm their old positions in this unstable world  and perhaps to prevent  China or even Russia becoming the next superpowers. The flag used in this post was the 'Grand Union Flag' or 'Continental Colors.'  The thirteen red and white stripes with the pr-1800 Union Jack in the canton often regarded as the first American flag, used during the first year or two of the US war of independence, before independence was the official aim of the Continental Congress.  I suggest a design based on that flag:
It features the modern Union Jack and all 50 stars of the current United States. However I decided to improve on this, I increased the number of stripes to 17, to represent to original 13 colonies and former home nations and added the cross of St David of Wales to the Union Jack so that all British home nations and US states are represented equally. I also alternated the stripes to red, white blue, white etc, which I personally think compliments the colours in the canton better:

The problem with this is that it may be confused with the flag of Hawaii. so perhaps red and white stripes are better:
Alternatively one could be a civil flag and one a state flag, to say distinguish naval vessels, similar to the red, white, blue ensign system used by the UK & some commonwealth countries.
As far as naval jacks go I also have two designs, the first one is simply the canton design used by itself:
The other is a Union Jack defaced with a rattle snake with the text "Don't Tread on Me". A little combination of the current British and US naval jack:
Again one could be for naval use and the other for civil used, or for auxiliaries and support ships. The aircraft roundel could be the US roundle used in the inter war years and beginning of WW2 as this is also similar to the British red, white and blue rings:
The national coat of arms is quartered with the British and American coat of arms. The British arms are quartered with the ancient arms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, where the American Arms feature a blue chief with red and white stripes:
I am operating here that both UK and USA would literally be up in arms if they gave up complete sovereignty, and some some sort of arrangement has been made where the American leader pays symbolic homage to the monarch who in turn promises to uphold American Democracy. thus keeping both constitutions intact. Alternatively a more anglicised version might be:
I also thought the supporters could be an American continental soldier and British 'red coat' the synbolism being obvious, but decided to stay with the lion and eagle, but perhaps the soldier supporters could be used in military heraldry, a typical seal might be:
Who knows what the future holds, although I don't think anything like this could happen in my lifetime, but still fun to think what if. Feel Free to comment.