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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