Royal Standard of the United Kingdom
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- For other monarchs' standards, see Royal Standard.
The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom is the flag used by Queen Elizabeth II in her capacity as Sovereign of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. Different standards are used in the Queen's other realms, and the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom is varied for use in Scotland.
Although almost universally called a standard, such flags when used in the United Kingdom are banners of arms, as they comprise the shield of the Royal Arms. Outside the United Kingdom, the Royal Standard is usually a nation's banner of arms with a blue disc containing a wreath of gold roses encircling the crowned letter 'E', (for 'Elizabeth'), superimposed upon it (the Personal Flag of Queen Elizabeth II).
The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom is flown when the Queen is in residence in one of the royal residences. It may be flown on any building, official or private, during a visit by the Queen, if the owner or proprietor so requests. The Royal Standard was flown aboard the royal yacht when it was in service and the Queen was on board. The only church that may fly a Royal Standard, even without the presence of the Sovereign, is Westminster Abbey, which is a Royal Peculiar. Other churches generally are not allowed to hoist a Royal Standard.
The Royal Standard is flown at royal residences only when the sovereign is present. If the Union Flag is flying above Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle instead of the Royal Standard, the Queen is not in residence. If the ancient Royal Standard of Scotland is flying above Holyrood Palace or Balmoral Castle, instead of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom used in Scotland, it also indicates that the Queen is not in residence.
Unlike the Union Flag, the usual rule is that the Royal Standard is never flown at half–mast, even after the demise of the Crown, as there is always a sovereign on the throne. Strictly speaking, however, the Royal Standard may be flown at half–mast above a building or on board a boat in which the unburied body of a deceased monarch is lying (as long as the present monarch is not in attendance). When controversy arose regarding the lack of a flag at half–mast over Buckingham Palace following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, a compromise was reached whereby the Union Flag was flown at half–mast. (The Queen was then in summer residence in Balmoral; previously, no flag had flown over Buckingham Palace when the monarch was not present. Since then, the Union Flag has been flown in the Queen's absence.) However the Union Flag can be lowered to fly at half–mast over Buckingham Palace, in times of national mourning (for example after the death of the Queen Mother, the September 11 attacks and the 7 July 2005 London bombings. The Union Flag was also flown at half–mast over Buckingham Palace as a mark of respect on the first anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on Bank Holiday Monday 31 August 1998).
England, Wales, Northern Ireland and overseas
In England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and outside the United Kingdom, the flag is divided into four quadrants. The first and fourth quadrants represent the ancient Kingdom of England and contain three gold lions, (or "leopards"), passant gardant on a red field; the second quadrant represents the ancient Kingdom of Scotland and contains a red lion rampant on a gold field; the third quadrant represents the ancient Kingdom of Ireland and contains a version of the gold harp from the coat of arms of Ireland on a blue field. The inclusion of the harp remains an issue for some in Ireland. In 1937 Éamon de Valera, then Taoiseach asked Dominions Secretary Malcolm MacDonald if the harp quarter could be removed from the Royal Standard on the grounds that the Irish people had not given their consent to the Irish emblem being included. The request was denied and the harp remains.
The modern Royal Standard of the United Kingdom, apart from minor changes, (notably to the form of harp used to represent Ireland), dates to the reign of Queen Victoria. Earlier Royal Standards of the United Kingdom incorporated the Arms of Hanover and of the Kingdom of France, representing the title of Elector (later King) of Hanover and the theoretical claim to the throne of France (a claim dropped in 1800). The Hanoverian association was terminated in 1837 with the accession of Queen Victoria who, being a female, could not accede to Hanover.
Famous Royal Standards of former British Monarchs include the Scotland Impaled Royal Standard of Queen Anne, the Hanover Quartered Royal Standards of King George I to George III, and the Hanover crowned Royal Standards of George III to William IV. The latter contained the Royal coat of arms of Hanover superimposed over what became the modern Royal Standard of the United Kingdom, although this particular standard's artistic representations of the banners of England, Ireland and Scotland in their respective quadrants was marginally different to the versions used today.
In Scotland a separate version of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom is used, whereby the red Lion Rampant of the Kingdom of Scotland appears in the first and fourth quadrants, displacing the three gold lions passant gardant of England, which occur only in the second quadrant. The third quadrant, displaying the gold harp of Ireland, remains unaltered from that version used throughout the remainder of the United Kingdom and overseas.
Other members of the Royal Family also use this Scottish version when in Scotland, with the only exceptions to this protocol being the consort of a queen regnant and the heir apparent, the Duke of Rothesay, each of whom has his own individual standard.
The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom used in Scotland differs from the ancient Royal Standard of Scotland in that the latter portrays the Lion Rampant in its entirety. As the banner of the Royal Coat of Arms of Scotland, the Royal Standard of Scotland remains a personal banner of the monarch and, despite being commonly used as an unofficial second flag of Scotland, its use is restricted under an act passed in 1672 by the Parliament of Scotland.
The Royal Standard of Scotland is used officially at Scottish royal residences, when the monarch is not in residence, and by representatives of the Crown, including the First Minister, Lord Lieutenants in their lieutenancies, the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and Lord Lyon King of Arms. A variation of the Royal Standard of Scotland is used by the heir apparent to the King of Scots, the Duke of Rothesay, whose personal Royal Standard is the Royal Standard of Scotland defaced with an azure-coloured label of three points. (The banner of the Duke of Rothesay also features the same, displayed upon an inner shield).
Other members of the Royal Family
Variants of the Royal Standard are used for other members of the British Royal Family.
Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales has a number of distinct standards and banners for use throughout the United Kingdom; those for use in England and Northern Ireland, those for use in Scotland, those for use in Wales, and those for use in Cornwall.
|Standard||For Use In||Description|
|England and Northern Ireland||The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom is used, defaced with a white label of three points. In the centre, the crowned arms of the Principality of Wales — four quadrants, the first and fourth with a red lion on a gold field, and the second and third with a gold lion on a red field — is superimposed. This is the standard that is used outside the United Kingdom by the prince.|
|Scotland||The Royal Standard of Scotland is used, defaced with a blue label of three points. This is the standard of the heir apparent to the King of Scots.|
|Scotland||The flag is a banner based on two Scottish titles of the heir apparent: Duke of Rothesay and Lord of the Isles. The flag is divided into four quadrants. The first and fourth quadrants include a blue and white checkerboard band in the centre of a gold field. The second and third quadrants include a ship on a white background. In the centre, a gold inner shield bearing the lion rampant of the Kingdom of Scotland defaced with a three point label.|
|Wales||The flag is a banner of the coat of arms of the Principality of Wales and is divided into four quadrants, the first and fourth with a red lion on a gold field, and the second and third with a gold lion on a red field. Superimposed is a green shield bearing a crown.|
|Cornwall||The flag is "sable fifteen bezants Or", that is, a black field bearing fifteen gold coins, which Prince Charles uses in his capacity as Duke of Cornwall.|
Princes and princesses of royal blood
Other members of the Royal Family have personal standards of their own. These are variants of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom, (including that which is used in Scotland), with the bearing of a white label and either three points or pendants (for children of a sovereign), or five points (grandchildren of a sovereign). Traditionally all princes and princesses of royal blood (i.e. descendants of the sovereign) are granted arms on their 18th birthday, thus giving them a banner to fly from their residences:
The following members of the Royal Family have personal standards
|Standard||Member of the Royal Family||Description|
|The Duke of York||The middle point bears a blue anchor, while the first and last points are blank.|
|The Earl of Wessex||The middle point bears a red rose, while the first and last points are blank.|
|The Princess Royal||The first and last point each bear a red cross. The middle point bears a red heart.|
|The Duke of Cambridge||Unlike other grandchildren of the sovereign, Prince William uses a label with three points (as he is a direct heir to the Throne). The middle point bears a red shell, while the first and last points are blank.|
|Prince Harry of Wales||The first, middle, and last points each bear a red shell, while the second and fourth points are blank.|
|Princess Beatrice of York||The first, middle, and last points each bear a bee, while the second and fourth points are blank.|
|Princess Eugenie of York||The first, middle, and last points each bear a thistle head, while the second and fourth points are blank.|
|The Duke of Gloucester||White label with five points, three with St George's Cross, two with red lions passant guardant.|
|The Duke of Kent||White label with five points, three with blue Anchor, two with St George's Cross.|
|Prince Michael of Kent||White label with five points, three with St George's Cross, two with blue anchors.|
|Princess Alexandra||White label with five points, two with hearts, two with anchors, one with St George's Cross.|
Consorts of the British monarch
Queens consort of the British monarch are granted arms based on the Royal Standard and their own personal arms from before their marriage, or the arms of their family. In Scotland, a queen consort will use the Scottish version of the Royal Standard. They do not have different standards for the Commonwealth realms that have their own Royal Standards.
Consorts of a queen regnant are not granted use of the British Royal Standard. They use standards based on their own family arms.
Consort of Elizabeth II
|Standard based on the Duke's Greek and Danish roots. The flag is divided into four quarters:
The first quarter, representing Denmark, consists of three blue lions passant and nine red hearts on a yellow field. The second quarter, representing Greece, consists of a white cross on a blue field. The third quarter, representing the duke's surname, Mountbatten, contains five black and white vertical stripes. The fourth quarter, alludes to his title as Duke of Edinburgh, and includes a black and red castle which is also part of the city of Edinburgh's arms.
Consort of George VI
|The royal standard impaled with the arms of her father, Claude Bowes-Lyon, Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.|
Consort of George V
|The Royal Standard impaled with the arms of her father, Francis, Duke of Teck and the Hanoverian coat of arms as used by her grandfather, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge.|
Consort of Edward VII
|The Royal Standard, impaled with the royal coat of arms of Denmark.|
Other members of the Royal Family
Other members of the Royal Family may use the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom, but within an ermine border, (a white border with black spots representing the ermine fur). This standard is mainly used for the wives of British princes, or members of the Royal Family who have not yet been granted their own arms. Diana, Princess of Wales and more recently, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester  had this standard draped over their coffins at their funerals. The Duchess of Cornwall also enjoys the right to use this version of the Royal Standard- although she rarely exercises it on her own. When the Prince of Wales of ascends to the Throne, this will most likely also function as Camilla's "Consort Standard," as the Duchess' family has no Family Standard.
During her marriage, the late Princess of Wales used a Personal Standard. This Standard married the Prince of Wales' with the Spencer Arms, much like her Coat of Arms during her marriage. After the divorced was finalized in 1996, the Princess used the Royal Standard with ermine.
Uses of Standards
The Royal Standard is reserved only for the monarch, and is the most used. Most famously it signals the presence of the monarch at a royal residence, and is also used on official vehicles, primarily the Bentley State Limousine, but also on other road vehicles at home or abroad, often a Range Rover. The Royal Standard is also flown from aircraft and water vessels, including HMY Britannia and MV Spirit of Chartwell  during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. The flag is also draped over the coffin of the Monarch upon their death.
The use of personal standards of other members of the Royal Family vary in frequency. The Prince of Wales flies his standard at Clarence House in the same way the Royal Standard is used over Buckingham Palace, but other members of the family tend not to fly theirs from their respective residences (though this may be due to the fact that many share official London Residences, as is the case at Kensington Palace). Family members also do not use their standards on road vehicles, neither privately or on official engagements (when more discrete cars are used, such as Jaguar) or state occasions (when the Liveried cars of the Royal Mews are used), this seems reserved for the Queen only, although when Prince Philip travels alone at state occasions, his standard flies from the roof of his car, as seen with the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales (when the Queen Mother also flew her personal standard from her car) and that of the Queen Mother, also, when a visiting Head of State on a state visit uses the British royal cars, their own standards are used. That said, when abroad, the standards of members of the family may well be flown: examples include Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William. There have been some occasions when personal standards have been seen in the UK: St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle home of Banners of Knights of the Order of the Garter, at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant Prince Andrew's standard flew from MV Havengore.
- Norman Davies, The Isles: A History (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999)
- "Welcome to the official website of the British Monarchy". Royal.gov.uk. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- "Discover Ireland Media Room". Discoverirelandmedia.com. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
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- "British Flags - Royal and vice-regal flags". Flags.net. Retrieved 2011-12-29.