The national symbols of England are things which are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of England or English culture. Some are established, official symbols; for example, the Royal Arms of England, which has been codified in heraldry. Other symbols may not have official status, for one reason or another, but are likewise recognised at a national or international level.
The national flag of England, known as St George's Cross, has been England's national flag since the 13th century. Originally the flag was used by the maritime state the Republic of Genoa. The English monarch paid a tribute to the Doge of Genoa from 1190 onwards, so that English ships could fly the flag as a means of protection when entering the Mediterranean. A red cross acted as a symbol for many Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. It became associated with Saint George, along with countries and cities, which claimed him as their patron saint and used his cross as a banner. Since 1606 the St George's Cross has formed part of the design of the Union Flag, a Pan-British flag designed by King James I.
Fish and chips has been a recognisable cultural and culinary symbol of England since the mid-19th century. A strong contender for the unofficial title of England's national dish, it remains hugely popular as an affordable and nutritious takeaway meal.
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is a widely consumed part of English cuisine, and is symbolic of England. It is another contender for the title of England's national dish.
Tea is symbolic of England. In 2006, a government-sponsored survey confirmed that a cup of tea constituted a national symbol of England. By an alternative view, it may be considered symbolic of Britain rather than England alone for its historical British connection with Empire and India, and is not specifically pre-Union of the Crowns or pre-Union of Parliaments. It is also drunk widely and equally in England, Scotland and Wales.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658): English soldier and statesman, who raised England's status once more to that of a leading power following a decline after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. A man of outstanding gifts, he believed deeply in religious toleration, and continued to influence political and social ideas until recent times.
London taxi / black cab / Hackney carriage: Inimitable and timeless taxi design. Only licensed hackney carriages can pick up passengers on the street and without pre-booking. London's traditional black cabs are specially constructed vehicles designed to conform to the standards set out in the Conditions of Fitness. Traditional London taxi drivers are licensed and must have passed an extensive training course (the Knowledge).
King Arthur: legendary sovereign of the late 5th and early 6th centuries who appears in a cycle of chivalric romances (known as the Matter of Britain). It is not known how his legend originated or whether the figure Arthur was based on a historical person.
John Bull: a national personification of the U.K. in general and England in particular, Bull is typically represented in literature and political caricature of the 18th century and after as well-intentioned, frustrated, full of common sense, and entirely of native country stock.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901): her reign (1837-1901) is known as the Victorian era; it was a period of great industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change, and was marked by a grand expansion of the British Empire.
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower. The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower: it was renamed in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Previously it was known simply as the Clock Tower. "Big Ben" has become one of England's most prominent symbols.
Morris dancing is a form of English folk dance normally accompanied by music. It involves rhythmic stepping and choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Morris dancers may use sticks, swords and handkerchiefs when dancing. The earliest known, surviving English record of Morris dancing is dated to 1448.
The White Cliffs of Dover: The cliffs have great symbolic value in England because they face Continental Europe across the narrowest section of the English Channel, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard. Before air travel, crossing from Dover was the primary route to the continent, so the cliffs also formed the first or last sight of England for those making the journey.