Thursday, 9 September 2010

What flag for the Queen's Irish visit?

The Times today carried an article by Mary Kenny over the Queen's planned official visit to the Republic. It was an interesting article all round, discussing the attitudes of the Irish to the royal family and ending on the cheery note that there is a 'traditional' fear amongst the harder nationalists that the public might like the Queen more than is good for them.

Once question that came up, though, was what flag the Queen should use. The Union Jack is out, in part due to being linked in the Irish consciousness to hardline loyalism, according to Kenny. On previous visits even the 'popular' Edward VII used his 'racing colours' for his official visit there. So what should our Queen use?

I've always been a fan of St. Patrick's Saltire. It's still used by the Church of Ireland, doesn't have the red-white-blue colour scheme that may cause offence to the more sensitive nationalists in the south. Nonetheless, whilst it might make an excellent flag for Northern Ireland, it nonetheless probably isn't suitable for official use by the Queen.

The Royal Standard? Again, as with the saltire, it bears an explicit acknowledgement of the Queen's Irish territories (the harp). It does have the advantage of being relatively obscure and not in any way a part of the Union flag.

I'd really like to hear if people have better suggestions - and have a newfound sympathy for the poor folk who have to manage the protocol of official visits like these.


  1. Union flag, and royal standard - no compromise, these are Her Majesty's royal territories, lets no apologise for that!

  2. That would be my natural take, but if these are unacceptable, can you think of any alternatives?

  3. The Northern Irish flag is okay. Though as I say, they ARE acceptable. They are so long as N.I is in the Union, and loyal to Her Majesty.

  4. Northern Ireland doesn't actually HAVE a flag at present - the Ulster Banner stopped being the official flag at some point in the 70s (when we suspended Stormont I think).

    Also, whilst they are acceptable to us, in principle, in pragmatic terms to the southern Irish things might be different and event organisers have to be pragmastists.

  5. The Royal Standard will be the flag used by the Queen.

    I don't see any need for any other flags - although I suspect the Irish Government will fly the Union Jack (maybe get some of the old ones out of mothballs!) alongside the Tricolour, as they would for any other visiting head of state. I don't see that as particularly controversial.

    It is never proper protocol to go to a foreign country and put up your own national flag: it is a courtesy extended to a guest by their host.

  6. Perhaps that is true - I mainly brought it up because the Times article suggested that it would be an issue, as laid out in my post. If there is no flag issue then so much the better.