Yet another rUK idea

Something a bit more radical, which works with or without Scotland:

For a single, unified flag for England plus one or more Celtic countries (Scotland, Wales, NI), we could dispense with St.George (who was not English, and never came anywhere near England) and replace his cross with the cross flory from the attributed arms of St. Edward the Confessor and other Saxon kings. Then add a circle in the middle to produce a “Celtic cross flory”.

If all the symbolism is in the design, the colours wouldn’t really matter, but I’ve used the blue and gold of the attributed Saxon kings’ arms, plus one version in the traditional red, white and blue.


The only trouble is that the “Celtic cross flory” looks familiar to me, but I can’t think where from.

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A couple more UK-without-Scotland ideas

Two more weeks to go before we discover whether the UK will need a new flag or not, so unless and until the need goes away, I’ll keep dreaming things up! These keeps all the crosses and their backgrounds intact:

uk england on roundel

uk england on diamond

Of course, if Scotland does remain in the UK, there’s still the little matter of getting Wales into the flag.

Copyright © 2014 Vexaldry

Another rUK flag

I’ve just come up with this idea for a UK without Scotland. Trying to keep it simple while representing all three remaining nations (England, Wales, Northern Ireland), I’ve taken my inspiration from South Africa. Here the colours are from the three flags (red and white St.George’s Cross for England, red and white St.Patrick’s Cross for Northern Ireland, and the red, white and green Ddraig Goch flag of Wales), but no specific national symbols are included. The three arms represent the three nations:


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New Australian flag

Someone on a Facebook flags group cam up with designs for a new Australian flag which included the colours of the present flag (red, white and blue), the colours of the Aboriginal flag (black, red and gold), and the “national colours” (green and gold). I wasn’t overly keen on his designs because they were a bit too “stripey” and fussy, so I came up with one of my own, which also incorporates a boomerang-like curve:

Australia flag idea australia-idea1-flying2

The black and red are kept in the horizontal configuration of the aborginal flag rather than put side-by-side which makes the flag too “stripey”, in my view.

This same idea, without the aborine colours, could be used like this:

australia-idea2 australia-idea2-flying

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UK local flag ideas : Bristol (England)

bristol-flag-mini A flag for Bristol?

The City of Bristol, in the west of England, straddles two of England’s historic counties – Gloucestershire and Somerset, although the extension into Somerset (south of the River Avon) only occurred in the late 19th century. However, it has been a City and County in its own right since 1373, except for the 22 years between 1974 and 1996 when it was part of the now-departed and unlamented County of Avon.

For centuries, Bristol competed with Norwich for the status of England’s second city, until both were overtaken by rapidly-expanding industrial cities further north (Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool …). It was a major port, accessing the Atlantic Ocean via the River Avon, which flows through the city and into the Severn Estuary. Bristol has the honour of being the home port of John Cabot, who, in 1497 set sail in his ship The Matthew to become the first European since the Vikings to set foot on the North American mainland. The city also has the dishonour of having been heavily involved in the slave trade, from which much of its wealth emanated.

city bristol

Bristol has a history of innovative engineering achievements, such as the SS Great Britain, which was the World’s largest ship when it was launched in 1843, and the first screw-propelled, ocean-going, wrought iron ship. The same engineer who designed the Great Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was also responsible for the Great Western railway which ran from London to Bristol, and for the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge in the west of the city. In the 20th century, Bristol developed an aircraft industry, producing aircraft for use in both World Wars and later becoming the British centre for the construction and testing of the World’s first supersonic passenger airliner, Concorde. It is now involved in the construction of the Airbus A380, the World’s largest passenger airplane.

The shield of Bristol’s coat of arms dates from the 14th century, and the full arms were granted in 1569. They reflect medieval Bristol’s status as a well-fortified city and a port. These arms now belong to Bristol City Council, and I think I have seen the banner of arms in use by the council.

For a city (as opposed to Council) flag, I opted for simple representations of the city’s maritime and engineering heritage. Maritime activity has to be represented by a ship, as it is in the coat of arms, although I have chosen to use Cabot’s Matthew rather than the medieval vessel in the arms. For engineering and innovation, in the interests of keeping things simple, I opted for nothing more than an inverted arch, indicative of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The colours – red, white and blue – are from the coat of arms.

bristol-flag-idea bristol-flag-clifton

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UK local flag ideas : Swansea (Wales)

There’s been a big surge in recent years in the adoption of flags for British counties, normally for historical counties rather than the more recent local government areas. Once adopted, by various means, they are registered on the Flag Institute’s “UK Flag Registry” and can be seen here.

There has been less activity in the adoption of more local flags – for cities, towns and districts, or (shock, horror!) present-day local government areas, although there are a few city and town flags on the Flag Institute’s registry. While in many areas there is still a strong identification with pre-1974 counties, I suspect that isn’t true everywhere (especially among the young), and that many people feel more affinity with their city or town than their county. So why not have more local flags as well? I thought I’d make a start with some ideas for places I know:

swansea2a-flying-noback The City and County of Swansea

The City and County of Swansea became a local government area in 1996. It covers almost the same geographical area as the old semi-independent Lordship of Gower, which existed from the 12th to the 16th centuries, and which itself was a Norman-English re-incarnation of the native Welsh Commote of Gŵyr. From a historical point of view, perhaps it is a shame that the City and County of Swansea wasn’t called the County of Gower.

city swansea3
Coat of arms of Swansea, granted in 1921

In medieval times, the town of Swansea was the capital of the Lordship of Gower and a seaport, and the remainder of the lordship was primarily engaged in agriculture and fishing.

Coal was being exported from Swansea by the 16th century, and during the industrial revolution the ready availability of coal led to the town becoming a major copper-smelting centre. Copper was brought from southwest England, and later from much further afield, because it was cheaper to transport the ore to the coal source than the other way round. For a time, about 80% of the World’s copper supply was smelted in, and exported from, Swansea, giving the town the nickname “Copperopolis”. Other coal-dependent industries, such as pottery, also thrived in the town.

To the west of the city lies the Gower Peninsula, the UK’s first officially-designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Agriculture is important on the peninsula, but tourism is also significant, with visitors coming for the beautiful countryside, beaches, castles and other attractions.

So … I wanted a flag which represented the city, its industrial heritage, the peninsula, the sea, the rural environment and agriculture. I didn’t want a heraldic banner of the arms (which rightfully belong to the City & County Council, not to the area or people in general), nor anything with complex charges. This is what I came up with:

swansea2-flag swansea-flag-mumbles

The widening band, left-to-right, west-to-east, represents the Gower Peninsula stretching into the rest of the county. The battlement comes from the Swansea coat of arms, representing the city and the area’s medieval castles (mostly ruins). Blue is for the sea and maritime activity, yellow beaches, green countryside and agriculture, and copper for Swansea’s industry. I would have liked to include black for coal-mining, but I didn’t like the look of any configuration I tried, so the copper colour stands homage to all industry, including the coal-ming without which the copper smelting could never have taken place.

There’s plenty more which could be represented, from past and present, but flags need to be kept simple! No flag can be a complete narrative about what it represents.

Copyright © 2014 Vexaldry, except … 
The map is from Wikipedia, derived from Ordnance Survey OpenData, licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, © Crown copyright and database right.

Uk flags without Scotland (again)

So, if the remaining UK (“rUK”) flag is to change when Scotland leaves, what should be it become? Many wierd and wonderful ideas have been put forward in various places, but I think the most obvious is to retain the general look-and-feel of cross and saltire, but replace Scotland with the St.David’s Cross of Wales. This would keep a dark background – black instead of blue – and avoid complicating things with other shapes, such as the red dragon.

The question is, how should the crosses be configured? I assume that England, the largest constituent nation, will retain pride of place, but there are various ways of interweaving Wales and Ireland. Here are three:

uk-no-scot-variantsThe simplest is to place England on Ireland on Wales, but I’m not keen on the Irish white fimbriation overlaying the Welsh yellow.

Next is to interweave Ireland between the yellow St.David’s Cross and its black background,

And finally … interweave both England and Ireland between a narrowed St.David’s Cross and the black background.


uk-no-scot-flyingMy preference, for aesthetic reasons, is the middle one. The third one is OK too, but it completely breaks the Welsh cross from its background.

So here is a “full set” of the national flag, royal standard and engisns in this new guise. I have changed the RAF roundel to match the new flag colours, but somehow I doubt that will ever happen (actually, I expect none of this will ever happen, because polls still suggest that the Scots will reject independence, but it’s fun to speculate!):


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UK Royal Arms without Scotland

So what if Scotland votes for independence? Should the remaining UK (“rUK” for short) keep its flag? Should the Queen keep her present UK coat of arms?

There are those who say “yes”. Some want to keep the Union Jack because it is such an established, iconic and famous flag. I understand that sentiment. Others come up with arguments against change on the grounds that there is no need to change royal emblems because the Queen will still be Queen of an independent Scotland as well as the rUK. This idea may have made sense in past centuries, when a personal union of Crowns meant at least some degree of personal union of government too, as in the seventeenth century when the separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland shared a monarch.

We don’t live in that world any more. The Queen today is already Queen of sixteen different independent realms. Although one natural person, she is sixteen different legal personalities, with sixteen different crowns, different titles, different flags and different coats of arms. If Scotland becomes independent, it will become the seventeenth Commonwealth realm, no different in status from Canada, Australia or Jamaica. The Queen of Scots will become a separate legal entity from the Queen of the UK, and you can bet your life that she won’t be displaying the arms of England, Northern Ireland and Wales north of the border on the grounds that “she’s Queen of the UK too”!

If this logic was applied now, if the Queen’s other realms were to be represented in her British royal arms, we would have something like the image below. I didn’t attempt to include all the crests and supporters, and I can’t even imagine what the combined flag would look like!


If Scotland leaves, the remaining United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be a different realm from the UKGBNI, despite being its “continuator state”. Times will have changed. Just as the royal arms and national flag changed when England and Scotland united, and again when Ireland joined the union, so too they should change to reflect the new reality of a union without Scotland, and not try and cling on to a lost past. This didn’t happen when 26 counties of Ireland left the Union, but in that case the remaining six counties could be used to justify the retention of the Irish harp and St.Patrick’s Cross. That justification won’t exist if the whole of Scotland leaves.

There has been plenty of talk about a post-Scotland flag. I posted some ideas in a previous blog, and I’ll write another one about it shortly. The royal arms get less attention, though, but they should be an easier proposition. Without Scotland, Wales will be the second nation of the rUK, in size and population, and so it should take Scotland’s place. The Red Dragon would return to the royal arms for the first time since 1603, while Scotland would return to its pre-union arms:

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Wales in the UK

For partly historic, partly spurious (“Wales is only a principality”) reasons, Wales is not represented in either the national flag or the royal arms of the United Kingdom. Since Wales was conquered by the English many centuries ago, it is supposedly covered by the English symbols, St.George’s Cross and the three lions. Whether the people of Wales ever felt that these were their symbols too is not for me to say, but regardless of the history they certainly don’t now, and in today’s Britian the idea is clearly nonsense.

Wales is one of the four nations of the UK. Although it is more closely linked to England than are the other Celtic nations (e.g. there is a common legal jurisdiction), nobody imagines that it is actually part of England. Even in law, the combined area has, for decades, been called “England AND Wales”, not just “England”, as it once was. Wales has its own devolved government and legislature, it’s own royally-designated capital city and national flag, national sports teams, and de jure official language.

Surely, therefore, it is time that our national emblems caught up with reality and gave Wales and the Welsh their proper recognition.

There have been suggestions, in Parliament and elsewhere, that the Welsh red dragon should be added to the Union flag. I can understand resistence to this, because the flag is so iconic and it is difficult to add anything new without undermining that internationally-famous image; an image which is present not only in the UK and its remaining overseas territories, but also in flags outside British jurisdiction (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and even a state of the USA). One could add a small dragon without doing too much “damage”:


However, I think the reality is that the existing Union Jack will remain the flag of the UK as long as the UK exists in its present form.

The royal coat of arms is another matter. Although famous, it is not as iconic, not as commonly used, and has, historically, been subject to more change than the flags, even though the last change was as long ago as 1837. Also, it has a space just waiting to be used for Wales! The fourth quarter of the arms duplicates the English first quarter, and could easily be replaced by the four lions of Wales : four quarters, four nations. It should be a no-brainer, shouldn’t it?

The royal arms of the UK as they are and as they should be (in my humble opinion!) :

Copyright © 2014 Vexaldry.

Coats of arms for Wales

It’s St.David’s Day, the national day of Wales (UK).

Officially, the coat of arms used for Wales is that of the ancient kings of Gwynedd, who eventually became Princes of Wales, ruling the entire country except the south. This shield, Quarterly Or and Gules four lions passant guardant counterchanged armed and langued azure, has been included in the arms of the last two princes of Wales, and in the royal badge for Wales since 2008:-
wales royal badge

However, as far as I know there has never been a full coat of arms for Wales, including supporters and crest, although a Welsh red dragon was used as a supporter in the English royal arms by the Tudor monarchs. So I thought I would put one together> No element of this is new, except putting the dragon on the crown as a crest:
And then I thought, since the kings/princes of Gwynedd never ruled all Wales : in fact, well over half the population probably lives outside the areas ruled by the “Princes of Wales”, and the capital itself – Cardiff – is outside the medieval principality. So perhaps a coat of arms for the whole of Wales should incorporate more than the arms of Gwynnedd. The old Welsh kingdoms and principalities changed considerably over time, but I think those of Morgannwyg, Deheubarth, Powys, Gwent and Gwynnedd covered the whole territory between them at one point or another, which could give us this:
wales multi

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