Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Royal Standards and Conventions

A RIGHT royal row has broken out after an historic flag flown to signify that the Queen is in residence appeared on a flagpole above a block of town flats. The Royal Standard is regularly seen flying proudly above Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Westminster to signify that Queen Elizabeth is in residence. However, it recently appeared in Clarendon Road above the newly refurbished Balmoral Apartments. Its use has prompted an official rebuke for the building's owners, who have been advised to take it down. David Filipponi, chief officer at the Bailiff's Chambers, said that the flag should not be flown. He added: 'The Royal Standard should only ever be used if the Queen is in residence.'(1)

As can be seen from the above news story, this seems to have caused some upset at the Bailiff's Chambers. However, even in the United Kingdom, there are no specific regulations regarding flags, but it is left to be a matter of custom. This can be seen in the Minutes of Hansard, on 22 October 1902, where Mr Balfour, First Lord of the Treasury commented:

The questions which have been raised as to the proper use of flags have received careful consideration by the Government, but they are unable to adopt the course of action suggested. Nor does it appear desirable to undertake the legislation that would be necessary in order to regulate the general use by civilians, or any class of civilians, of any particular flag on land. It is a matter which is best left, as hitherto, to the guidance of custom and good taste.(2)

This is reflected in a 1902 Home Office Minute on the question:

There is no power by law to interfere with the use on land of any flag even the King's Standard. Any such warrant as proposed would therefore be accompanied by no means of enforcing it. (2)

Historically, the "Royal Standard" as the Queen's flag has in fact a very short history. Back in the reign of Queen Victoria, it was considered to be the Standard flag of the United Kingdom, not the Sovereign:

It was used by members of the Royal Family; flown at certain military parades; displayed on fortresses and official buildings in the United Kingdom, and at Government House in the colonies, on the Sovereign's Birthday and on the days of Coronation and Accession; and flown on government buildings when the sovereign was passing in State. It was also flown by private individuals and organisations who thought that it was an appropriate way of displaying their loyalty to the crown (2)

The change came with the Prince of Wales, on his accession to the throne as Edward VII, who wanted to appropriate the flag as a one for the King or Queen. The Home Office noted "that the King was aware that legally no one could be prevented from flying the Royal Standard, but he wanted it to be discouraged."(2)

It was stated in the JEP article that the developer would not state where he obtained the flag from, but this is not hard to find. In America, they are made and sold quite easily, for a mere $14.95! Is this part of America's love/hate relationship with the British crown, or simply an opportunity for an American entrepreneur to make money. Obviously, there are no laws against its display in the United States of America!

British Royal Standard Colours Flag [FF1010]$14.95 New Made Item: Top quality 3' x 5' flag. Ready to display. Complete with 2 hang side Grommets. Constructed of Synthetic Material. (4)

Whether a new prestigious building can be termed "national rejoicing" is another matter, but as stated before, until recent times:

The common practice on occasions of national rejoicing of displaying the Royal Standard and the Union Flag indiscriminately with other Flags must be regarded as an attempt to express loyalty by means of decoration.(4)

This was such a common practice that It was for this reason that in 1893 a question was asked about the failure to fly the Standard, asking why the "Royal Standard was not hoisted on the Victoria Tower yesterday in honour of the Royal Wedding".(5) - clearly it was expected that public buildings would display the Royal Standard as a mark of celebration (This was the wedding of the HRH the Duke of York).

However, by the time of the 1911 Coronation, Edward VII's sea-change had effected custom if not law, and when a question was asked in Hansard, the reply was now in the negative:

Mr. CATHCART WASON asked whether private persons, corporations, or local authorities would be allowed to hoist the Royal Standard on the day of His Majesty's coronation?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill) The answer is in the negative.(6)

The Royal Standard is of course, as was pointed out, "the Standard of the United Kingdom, the quarterings of which were settled by the Royal Proclamation of the 1st January, 1801, which followed on the Act of Union of 1800"(7). Jersey does not form part of the United Kingdom, so it is debatable whether it would apply to Jersey anyway. There is no legislation applicable to the general public, and as we have seen, even customary usage in the United Kingdom has changed since Edward VII.

Nevertheless, it seems discourteous to display the flag as an advertising gimmick, and perhaps a more conciliatory approach by the Bailiff's office than that reported in the Jersey Evening Post will persuade the developer to remove it. Certainly there is no legal powers by which they can force the developer to remove it.

(1) http://www.thisisjersey.com/2009/08/17/flag-causes-a-royal-rumpus/
(2) http://flagspot.net/flags/gb-hist.html#civ
(3) http://www.ima-usa.com/product_info.php/products_id/187
(4) http://www.fotw.net/flags/gb-use.html
(5) http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1893/jul/07/the-house-and-the-royal-marriage#S4V0014P0_18930707_HOC_129
(6) http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1911/may/22/coronation#S5CV0026P0_19110522_HOC_43
(7) http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1914/jul/16/kings-visit-to-scotland-royal-standard#S5CV0064P0_19140716_HOC_260


Anonymous said...

A very well researched article.

Basically, the bayleaf can do nothing about it. Not as powerful as you thought there buddy?

For me, if the issue gets up the bayleaf's nose, then great.

TonyTheProf said...

I suspect getting up the authorities nose, but more the crown rather than the Bailiff, was possibly as a result of the belligerent attitude of the Bailiff's office, and the fact that the developer is Scottish, which has a history of a love/hate relationship with England.

I don't think it is necessarily "great", except that it may need to more conciliatory tones from the official channels, which would be all to the good; they cannot treat adults as if they were naughty children to be told off, and expect a subservient response - especially from a Scot!

Anonymous said...

What's the bet that the developer will have difficulty in getting any further planning applications approved?