Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Question: The Queen's Personal Flag

Last week on television I caught a brief glimpse of old footage of the Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, under the balcony was a large banner with Royal Insignia. The banner was blue and it had various insignia, mostly round, and it looked like the banner was in embroidery and goldwork. Do you know anything about this banner?

It sounds like you're referring to the Personal Flag of Queen Elizabeth II. This particular flag was created in 1960, It was flown for the first time on the BOAC Britannia in which she landed at Delhi airport on January 21, 1961. The personal flag consists of the initial 'E' ensigned with the Royal crown, surrounded by a chaplet of roses. The design is in gold (or yellow) on a blue field and the flag is fringed with gold (or yellow).

The Queen has standards for her various realms. The Royal Standard, which is flown whenever she is in residence at one of her Royal palaces, her car on official journeys and her aircraft - when on the ground. The Royal standard represents not only the Sovereign but also the United Kingdom. Her personal flag is meant to symbolize her as an individual instead of associating her with her role as sovereign of any commonwealth realm.  This is personal to her alone and cannot be flown by any other individual. Her personal flag is flown from any building, ship, car or aircraft in which she is staying or travelling.

Although it is not a 'Head of Commonwealth' flag, it has become The Queen's personal Commonwealth flag. A number of Commonwealth countries have adopted their own version of the flag, incorporated to include the country's arms, to be flown as a personal flag when the Queen is visiting their country. Canada's version is at right. It is also flown in non-monarchial Commonwealth countries that have not adopted a personal flag specifically for the Queen.

The design has been adapted - for instance, during her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, a version appeared as a banner on Buckingham Palace (see below). In this case it incorporated the Commonwealth symbol and circles with symbols from her various realms. A fine tribute from the Head of the Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth at Golden Jubilee Parade

© Marilyn Braun 2010

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