Flag of Scotland
|Design||A blue field with a white saltire that extends to the corners of the flag. In Blazon, Azure, a saltire Argent.|
The flag of Scotland (
Use of the flag is first recorded with the illustration of a heraldic flag in Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount's Register of Scottish Arms, c. 1542. It is possible that this is based on a precedent of the late 15th century, the use of a white saltire in the canton of a blue flag reputedly made by Queen Margaret, wife of James III (1451–1488).
The heraldic term for an X-shaped cross is a 'saltire', from the old French word saultoir or salteur (itself derived from the Latin saltatorium), a word for both a type of stile constructed from two cross pieces and a type of cross-shaped stirrup-cord. In heraldic language, the Scottish flag may be blazoned azure, a saltire argent. The tincture of the Saltire can appear as either silver (argent) or white. However, the term azure does not refer to a particular shade of blue.
Throughout the history of fabric production
These variations in shade eventually led to calls to standardise the colour of Scotland's national flag,
The flag proportions are not fixed but 3:5 is most commonly used, as with other flags of the countries of the United Kingdom (flag manufacturers themselves may adopt alternative ratios, including 1:2 or 2:3). Lord Lyon King of Arms states that 5:4 is suitable. The ratio of the width of the bars of the saltire in relation to the width of the field is specified in heraldry in relation to shield width rather than flag width. However, this ratio, though not rigid, is specified as one-third to one-fifth of the width of the field.
The saltire (decussate cross, diagonal cross) was used as a field sign in the medieval period without any connection to Saint Andrew. The connection between the field sign and the legendary mode of crucifixion of the saint may originate in Scotland, in the late 14th century. The Parliament of Scotland decreed in 1385 that every Scottish and French soldier (fighting against the English under Richard II) "shall have a sign before and behind, namely a white St. Andrew's Cross".
James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas at the Battle of Otterburn (1388) reportedly used a pennon with a saltire at the hoist. Similarly, white saltire was shown in the canton of the "Blue Blanket of the Trades of Edinburgh", reputedly made by Queen Margaret, wife of James III (1451–1488). This is the flag of the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh, and the focal point of the Riding of the Marches ceremony held in the city each year.
Use of the white "Sanct Androis cors" on blue as a naval flag is recorded for 1507, for the
Use by the Scottish Government
A further Scottish distinction from the UK flag days is that on Saint Andrew's Day (30 November) the Union Flag will only be flown where a building has more than one flagpole; the Saltire will not be lowered to make way for the Union Flag where a single flagpole is present. If there are two or more flagpoles present, the Saltire may be flown in addition to the Union Flag but not in a superior position. This distinction arose after Members of the Scottish Parliament complained that Scotland was the only country in the world where the potential existed for the citizens of a country to be unable to fly their national flag on their country's national day. In recent years, embassies of the United Kingdom have also flown the Saltire to mark St Andrew's Day. Many bodies of the Scottish Government use the flag as a design basis for their logo. For example, Safer Scotland's emblem depicts a lighthouse shining beams in a saltire shape onto a blue sky. Other Scottish bodies, both private and public, have also used the saltire in similar ways.
Use by military institutions on land
In the battle for "hearts and minds" in Iraq, the Saltire was again used by the British Army as a means of distinguishing troops belonging to Scottish regiments from other coalition forces, in the hope of fostering better relations with the civilian population in the area south west of Baghdad. Leaflets were distributed to Iraqi civilians, by members of the Black Watch, depicting troops and vehicles set against a backdrop of the Saltire.
Immediately prior to, and following, the merger in March 2006 of Scotland's historic infantry regiments to form a single Royal Regiment of Scotland, a multi-million-pound advertising campaign was launched in Scotland in an attempt to attract recruits to join the reorganised and simultaneously rebranded "Scottish Infantry". The recruitment campaign employed the Saltire in the form of a logo; the words "Scottish Infantry. Forward As One." being placed next to a stylised image of the Saltire. For the duration of the campaign, this logo was used in conjunction with the traditional Army recruiting logo; the words "Army. Be The Best." being placed beneath a stylised representation of the Union Flag. Despite this multi-media campaign having had mixed results in terms of overall success, the Saltire continues to appear on a variety of Army recruiting media used in Scotland.
Other uses of the Saltire by the Army include the cap badge design of the
Although not represented in the form of a flag, the No. 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force uses the Saltire surmounted by a lion rampant as the device shown on the squadron crest. The station crest of the former RAF Leuchars, Fife, also showed the Saltire, in this case surmounted by a sword. The crest of the former RAF East Fortune, East Lothian, also showed a sword surmounting the Saltire, however, unlike Leuchars, this sword was shown inverted and the station crest of the former RAF Turnhouse, Edinburgh, showed a Saltire surmounted by an eagle's head. The East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron crest features a Saltire surmounted by an open book; the book itself being supported by red lions rampant.
In Scotland, the Saltire can be flown at any time by any individual, company, local authority, hospital or school without obtaining express consent. Many local authorities in Scotland fly the Saltire from Council Buildings. However, in 2007 Angus Council approved a proposal to replace the Saltire on Council Buildings with a new Angus flag, based on the council's coat of arms. This move led to public outcry across Scotland with more than 7,000 people signing a petition opposing the council's move, leading to a compromise whereby the Angus flag would not replace but be flown alongside the Saltire on council buildings.
In the United Kingdom, owners of vehicles registered in
In 2017 the Unicode Consortium approved emoji support for the Flag of Scotland following a proposal from Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia and Owen Williams of BBC Wales in 2016. This was added to major smartphone platforms alongside the flags of England and Wales in the same year. Prior to this update, The Telegraph reported that users had "been able to send emojis of the Union Flag, but not of the individual nations".
Incorporation into the Union Flag
The Saltire is one of the key components of the
By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Council, ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine, and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe theSt. George’s Crosse, and the White Crosse, commonly called St. Andrew’s Crosse, joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds, and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed. – 1606.— Proclamation of James VI, King of Scots: Orders in Council – 12 April 1606.
However, in objecting strongly to the form and pattern of Union Flag designed by the
Most sacred Soverayne. A greate nomber of the maisteris and awnaris of the schippis of this your Majesteis kingdome hes verie havelie compleint to your Majesteis Counsell that the form and patrone of the flaggis of schippis, send doun heir and commandit to be ressavit and used be the subjectis of boith kingdomes, is very prejudiciall to the fredome and dignitie of this Estate and will gif occasioun of reprotche to this natioun quhairevir the said flage sal happin to be worne beyond sea becaus, as your sacred majestie may persave, the Scottis Croce, callit Sanctandrois Croce is twyse divydit, and the Inglishe Croce, callit Sanct George, haldin haill and drawne through the Scottis Croce, whiche is thairby obscurit and no takin nor merk to be seen of the Scottis Armes. This will breid some heit and miscontentment betwix your Majesteis subjectis, and it is to be ferit that some inconvenientis sall fall out betwix thame, for oure seyfairing men cannot be inducit to ressave that flag as it is set doun. They haif drawne two new drauchtis and patronis as most indifferent for boith kingdomes which they present to the Counsell, and craved our approbatioun of the same; bot we haif reserved that to you Majesteis princelie determination.— Letter from the Privy Council of Scotland to James VI, King of Scots – 7 August 1606.
Despite the drawings described in this letter as showing drafts of the two new patterns, together with any royal response to the complaint which may have accompanied them, having been lost, (possibly in the 1834 Burning of Parliament), other evidence exists, at least on paper, of a Scottish variant whereby the Scottish cross appears uppermost. Whilst, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, this design is considered by most vexillologists to have been unofficial, there is reason to believe that such flags were employed during the 17th century for use on Scottish vessels at sea. This flag's design is also described in the 1704 edition of The Present State of the Universe by John Beaumont, Junior, which contains as an appendix The Ensigns, Colours or Flags of the Ships at Sea: Belonging to The several Princes and States in the World.
On land, evidence suggesting use of this flag appears in the depiction of Edinburgh Castle by John Slezer, in his series of engravings entitled Theatrum Scotiae, c. 1693. Appearing in later editions of Theatrum Scotiae, the North East View of Edinburgh Castle engraving depicts the Scotch (to use the appropriate adjective of that period) version of the Union Flag flying from the Castle Clock Tower. A reduced view of this engraving, with the flag similarly detailed, also appears on the Plan of Edenburgh, Exactly Done. However, on the engraving entitled North Prospect of the City of Edenburgh the detail of the flag, when compared to the aforementioned engravings, appears indistinct and lacks any element resembling a saltire. The reduced version of the North Prospect ..., as shown on the Plan of Edenburgh, Exactly Done, does however display the undivided arm of a saltire and is thereby suggestive of the Scottish variant.
On 17 April 1707, just two weeks prior to the
From 1801, in order to symbolise the union of the Kingdom of Great Britain with the
Despite its unofficial and historic status the Scottish Union Flag continues to be produced by flag manufacturers,
- Scottish Union Flag. An unofficial variant used in the Kingdom of Scotland during the 17th century, following the Union of the Crowns.
Union Flag used in the Kingdom of England from 1606 and, following the Acts of Union, the flag of the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1707–1800.
Union Flag since 1801, including theAct of Union between the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland.
- Cross of Saint George.
The flag of the Church of Scotland is the flag of Scotland defaced with the burning bush.
Several flags outside of the United Kingdom are based on the Scottish saltire. In Canada, an inverse representation of the flag (i.e. a blue saltire on a white field), combined with the shield from the
The Dutch municipality of Sint-Oedenrode, named after the Scottish princess Saint Oda, uses a version of the flag of Scotland, defaced with a gold castle having on both sides a battlement.
Flag of the Church of Scotland
Flag of Stirling
Flag of the University of Edinburgh
Regimental flag of the Royal Regiment of Scotland
Flag of Saint Andrew, Guernsey
Flag of theScottish AustralianHeritage Council, Australia
Provincial flag of Nova Scotia, Canada
Flag of Sint-Oedenrode, Netherlands
Flag of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina department in Colombia.
Royal Standard of Scotland
The Royal Standard of Scotland, also known as the Banner of the King of Scots
The Flag of the United Kingdom, Flag of Scotland and Flag of Europe at the Scottish Parliament Building.
The Scottish Red Ensign at aBattle for Grolle.
A variety of Saltires atRugby Union in Scotland.
Three flags of Scotland marking theAnglo-Scottish Border.
The Flag of Scotland andHighland Games.
The Flag of Scotland seating design at Hampden Park Stadium; the national stadium of Football in Scotland.
A replica 17th-centuryCovenanters'flag.
A defaced Saltire belonging to the Bass Rock golf club, North Berwick.
The defaced Saltire of theCommon Riding.
The flag of Scotland (2:3 proportion)
The flag of Scotland (1:2 proportion)
- List of Scottish flags
- Royal coat of arms of Scotland
- Bearer of the National Flag of Scotland
- List of British flags
- Flags of Europe
- Flag of Quebec
- Flag of Tenerife
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