Re-Imagining the Royal and Vice-Regal Flags of the Commonwealth

From the August 2017 Vexilloid Tabloid #65
By Max Liberman

Queen Elizabeth II reigns as monarch of 16 sovereign and independent countries.  Although they share the same person as queen, each country’s throne is legally distinct:  she is simultaneously and separately Queen of the United Kingdom, Queen of Australia, Queen of Papua New Guinea, etc.

Some of these countries have adopted royal standards for the monarch’s personal use, usually a banner of the national coat of arms, defaced with Elizabeth’s  personal badge of a crowned “E” in a wreath of roses.

The royal standard of New Zealand, shown below, is a typical example.

New Zealand royal standard.

Since the queen lives in the United Kingdom, in her other 15 realms she is represented by a governor-general, who fulfills the day-to-day functions of the head of state.

Most of these viceroys (governors-general) fly nearly-identical flags:  blue, with the lion-and-crown crest from the British royal arms above a scroll bearing the country’s name.

Flag of the governor-general of Belize.

The flag of the governor-general of Belize is shown above.

From a heraldic and constitutional perspective, the symbolism of all this is not very satisfying.  The crowned-“E” badge serves as an armorial mark of difference, indicating that someone other than the actual bearer of the coat of arms is represented.  But as monarch, the queen is the personal embodiment of the state; the nation’s arms are her arms, and there is no reason for a person to bear his or her own arms differenced.

In accordance with heraldic custom, I suggest that in each realm she should use a banner of the  national arms without defacement or difference—as illustrated by proposed standards for the Queen of Grenada, the Queen of Tuvalu, and the Queen of Canada below.

Proposed Grenadian royal standard.
Proposed Tuvaluan royal standard.
Proposed Canadian royal standard.

What of the governors-general? They do not represent the United Kingdom or the British government, so there seems little justification for their flags bearing the crest of the British monarch.  Rather, since each governor-general is the personal representative of his or her own country’s queen, I propose that he or she should fly a differenced version of that country’s royal standard.

A bordure ermine for difference might be especially suitable; this has often been employed in heraldry as a mark of difference, and is used today in the United Kingdom by members of the royal family without banners of their own.  Proposed flags for the governors-general of New Zealand and Barbados are pictured here.

Proposed flag of the governor-general of New Zealand.
Proposed flag of the governor-general of Barbados.

For the governor-general of Jamaica, ermine will not do, since the field of the Jamaican royal standard is already white.  In this case, I suggest a bordure compony of the national colors of green, gold and black.

Proposed flag of the governor-general of Jamaica.

Something similar could be done in the Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (see below), and St. Kitts and Nevis, where the same problem arises.

Proposed flag of the governor-general of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Australia (below) and Tuvalu present another problem—how should the vice-regal flag be differenced when the royal arms already have a bordure?

Current Australian royal standard.

The overall result, in my view, is a series of flags which clearly denote each realm’s independence and distinct national identity, combining existing national symbolism and centuries-old heraldic principles to accurately reflect today’s constitutional realities.

Queen Elizabeth II’s personal flag.

Chicago Flags Finds a New Home in Gresham

From the August 2017 Vexilloid Tabloid #65
By Michael Orelove

About two years ago I wrote a  letter to the Chicago Fire Department requesting an old Chicago flag that had flown over a fire station.  I just received the flag.

It flew over Engine 83 which was 2.6 miles from where I used to live in Chicago.

Michael Orelove at Troutdale Fire Station 75.

I wanted to find a new home for the flag so I went to Troutdale Fire Station 75 and asked if they knew any firefighters with a Chicago connection.  They referred me to Joe Griffin of Gresham Fire Station 76.

I connected with Joe, who has family in Chicago and goes to back there about once a year.  I gave him the flag.

Joe Griffin and fellow firefighters at Gresham Fire Station 76.

As with other flags the stars and stripes represent different things.  On the Chicago flag each point of the stars has a different meaning.  For example, the second red star represents the Chicago Fire of 8–10 October 1871.  The points of the second star signify religion, education, esthetics, justice, beneficence, and civic pride.

Chicago adopted the original version of the flag in 1917.  Since then, it has added stars, and now flies extensively throughout the city.  The design has been voted one of the best in the country and has inspired other city flags.




Flag Burning in Portland

From the August 2017 Vexilloid Tabloid #65

As the recent 4th-of-July-weekend Blues Festival began, Portlanders continued their tradition of protest, often using flags.  At times that involved burning them.

The right-wing group Patriot Prayer planned a two-hour “Freedom March” at Tom McCall Waterfront Park with “a small amount of speeches to promote freedom   and courage”.  On Facebook it said “Fear will not silence Americans in these liberal strongholds.  Please bring your best behavior.”

Members of the Rose City Antifa burn a flag at the Portland Waterfront, 30 June 2017. Sarah Silbiger / The Oregonian

The opposition group Rose City Antifa [anti-fascist] organized an opposition rally called “Enough: Stop Patriot Prayer Now!”  On Facebook it said “We will not allow our community to be overrun by fascists and those who make excuses for them.”

Most demonstrators had passionate but peaceful conversations.   However, one fight started after some Antifa protesters burned flags.  One man tried to hit others with a broken flag pole.

Anti-Trump protesters burn an upside-down flag downtown, 20 January 2017. Beth Nakamura / The Oregonian

This behavior follows an incident where anti-Trump protesters burned American flags (and one Texas flag) in Pioneer Courthouse Square downtown on 20 January, Inauguration Day.

Eric Post

In response to that event, veteran Eric Post went to Willamette National Cemetery and recorded an emotional Facebook video at gravesites of Medal of Honor winners, inviting protesters to take a tour.  It went viral, with over 2 million views in three days.




Vexilloid Tabloid #68


Our first newsletter of 2018 (Issue 68) features:

  • Of Arms and Silks (David Ferriday)
  • Flags in Ireland: A Field Report, Installment 1 (Ted Kaye)
  • A New Flag for Coral Springs, Florida (Scott Mainwaring)
  • Forthcoming Books (Scott Mainwaring)
  • Sutherlin — City of Flags (Michael Orelove)

And, as always highlights from our last meeting, a roundup of flag news and notes, sightings of the Portland city flag, and the What’s That Flag quiz.




Vexilloid Tabloid #67

Travel into the future with our December newsletter available now here in November!

Issue 67 features:

  • A Theory of City SOB Flags (Ted Kaye)
  • The Flag Fusions of Pedro Lasch (Scott Mainwaring)
  • A New Flag for Burlington, Vermont (Ted Kaye)
  • Travels with Flags (Michael Orelove)
  • Oregon Flag Registry Update

And, as always highlights from our last meeting, a roundup of flag news and notes, sightings of the Portland city flag, and the What’s That Flag quiz. Keen eyed readers may also spot a terrible flag joke, not counting the visual pun below (and, please, send us better ones!).



Vexilloid Tabloid #66

Here is the 66th edition of our club newsletter, The Vexilloid Tabloid, founded in 1999 by the late, great John Hood.  Our October 2017 edition features:

  • When Cities Reject Their New Flags (Ted Kaye)
  • 100 Days Action Resistance Flag (Cristina Victor)
  • The Mt. Rushmore State (Michael Orelove)
  • Vexiday: The Second World Vexillology Day in Portland (Scott Mainwaring)
  • ICV 27 Report–London 2017 (Ted Kaye)
  • A Flag to Commemorate the Arts and Sciences (David Ferriday)
  • The International Vegan Flag (John Niggley)


Vexilloid Tabloid #65

There are lots of features in our latest newsletter (Vexilloid Tabloid #65):

  • Flag Burning in Portland (Ted Kaye)
  • Kids’ Flags from Room 25, Oak Knoll Elementary, Menlo Park (Bill Quarré)
  • Chicago Flag Finds a New Home in Gresham (Michael Orelove)
  • Reimagining the Royal and Vice-Regal Flags of the Commonwealth (Max Liberman)
  • The OPEN Flag (Carl Gurtman)
  • Proposed “American Resistance Flag” (Howard J. Wilk)
  • Pocatello, Idaho, Replaces its Worst-in-the-Country Flag (Ted Kaye)

It also includes our regular sections:

  • The What’s That Flag? quiz
  • A flag quote (see below)
  • Roundup (news items)
  • Flutterings (highlights from our last meeting)
  • Portland Flag Miscellany (news about the Portland city flag)
  • Next Meeting directions (14 September at Scott Mainwaring’s house)

To subscribe to get on the email distribution list, to submit items for a future issue, or to otherwise let us know your thoughts, email For back issues, visit our Vexilloid Tabloid page.

Remember: it’s free, and worth every penny!


A Flag Worth Dying For

Hitting US booksellers this Independence Day, a new flag book is attracting some media attention: British journalist and BBC commentator Tim Marshall’s A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics Behind National Symbols. (The UK version was published last year under the title Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags.)

Tim Marshall

Marshall tackles fundamental and challenging questions about the meanings and effects of flags: Continue reading “A Flag Worth Dying For”

Columbia, SC Soliciting Feedback On 18 Finalists

As Ted Kaye noted last November, South Carolina’s capital Columbia is looking to replace its SOB flag with something that better reflects the contemporary city and that will be embraced instead of ignored by the public. After receiving 547 proposed designs, the Columbia Design League had a panel of NAVA members select 18 finalists to present to the public for feedback. The whole process is outlined on the Columbia Museum of Art’s website, on a page entitled Design a Better Columbia Flag!

The feedback period ends on July 10th, and allows for greater weight to be given to opinions expressed by those with some connection to the city (people who live there, are from there, or work there) via self-identification questions on the survey website Unfortunately the survey presents the 18 finalists in a fixed order, which can introduce artifacts into the results; on the other hand, it anonymizes the designs, presents a statement of intended symbolism for each, and allows respondents to not only assign a 1-10 rating for each flag but to leave comments.

Continue reading “Columbia, SC Soliciting Feedback On 18 Finalists”