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.