union jack

Move Over St George The Union Flag Lives Another Day

It is a pleasure to know that our national flag lives to fly another day.  I thought there was a distinct possibility it would be as dead as a dodo on Friday.  I had looked at alternatives being mooted and they didn’t fill me with immense pride the way our flag does when it is hoisted at special events.

I have long wondered why we seem a bit ashamed to fly our flag.  In America you see their national emblem everywhere you go.  But in this country we seem to make an apologetic effort at flying it generally.  I get embarrassed when sports personalities, racing drivers in particular, don’t pay as much attention to it or the national anthem as they should. They often seem more interested in the champagne dowsing. But it is lovely when you see top sports personalities, Olympians in particular, running around the athletics track draped from head to toe in a flag.

But I am sure the Flag Institute UK, the organisation which lays down rules and regulations about the flag would be very stuffy about it.  They definitely don’t approve of mugs and chair covers and that sort of thing bearing the national emblem, so I am sure they take a dim view of sports people using it for pr. I take the view that if you love it you should flaunt it.  Why not?

I had heard that in this country, you weren’t allowed to fly the flag when you want to.  But it seems that isn’t quite the case.  I gather no permission is needed to fly  national flags as they are excluded from most planning and advertising regulations.  However the flagpoles they fly on, may need permission. I knew there was something that was an issue.  Perhaps my readers can enlighten me further?

According to the Flag Institute, National flags should never be flown in a worn or damaged condition, or when soiled.  To do so is to show disrespect for the nations they represent apparently. Fortunately the one I am pictured with today, is pristine as it has come straight out of a packet.  But I am sure I bought it for a carnival or similar sort of event.  In fact I recall having difficulty finding a decent flag because most of them were plastic trinkets on sale with joke masks, magic tricks and carnival novelties and bunting.  I haven’t actually noticed a proper shop where you can buy the sort of classy flag fluttering on a local authority or famous building. I expect there is a flag maker by Royal Appointment somewhere.

Although I think the Flag Institute is a bit stuffy I agree with them that the union flag or union jack as I always called it, is taken for granted and not loved as much as it should be loved.  Children are generally not taught about it at school although when there are special occasions like the Queen visiting, flag sellers suddenly turn up pushing prams loaded with flags to wave.  I expect the flags have ‘Made in China’  on them but at least they look the part.

For those who don’t know, the Union flag has been around in its present form for about 400 years and represents the unity of the nations which make up the United Kingdom. The design goes back to the Royal Proclamation following the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.  It is made up of the Cross of St George and Cross of St Andrew blended with the Cross of Saint Patrick.  There is a difference of opinion about why it was called the Union Jack.  Some people think that it was a naval term but this is disputed.

What made me particularly laugh today was an email sent to me  in error by Made.com .  They had obviously prepared a Scotland No vote email and a Scotland Yes vote email .  They sent pictures of furniture in lovely Scottish colours at first because they sent the wrong one first.  Ooops, they got it right the second time with furnishing sporting Union flags.  The Flag Institute would definitely NOT approve.  But it is all in the best possible taste……..

Personally, I also like the Cross of St George and think we should have a St George’s Day and make much more of it as a day to be proud of.   That is the subject of another debate.  And so is the wonderful flag which I revere and grew up with because I come from a naval family.  That is the British ensign…..another blog topic I think.