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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Flagging II 

A bit of futher reading suggests there are only five colours in general use in heraldry (the principles of which have largely been followed in flag design): red, blue, black, green, and purple. There are also two colours known as 'metals': gold (yellow) and silver (white).

So that helps to explain why the "silver fern" is actually white when it appears on a flag. Glad I've got that sorted.

Colour is not normally placed on or immediately adjacent to another colour, nor metal on metal, as they are too indistinct at a distance. This helps to explain why the four red stars on the NZ flag have white outlines separating them from that boring blue background.

The upper left hand corner of the flag (called the canton) is the position of honour. The fact that it's occupied by the Union Jack arguably implies our continued subservience to Britain. Of Commonwealth countries, only New Zealand, Australia, Tuvalu and the Republic of Fiji still include the damned thing in their flags - and Niue has a stylized one. If Papua New Guinea can have a distinctive flag that reflects aspects of its own, unique identity then you'd think New Zealand could too.

Then there's the issue of perhaps replacing the New Zealand and Australian flags with the Maori and Aboriginal flags respectively. First, it's hard to see how these could become unifying symbols. Second, is "the Maori flag" that of the United Tribes, or the Tino Rangatiratanga flag? The latter (like the Aboriginal Flag) is of very recent invention, is probably someone's intellectual property, and is probably politically unacceptable given its association with various Maori sovereignty/independence claims.

And now, just to pre-empt some geezer or crazed monarchist from proclaiming "We fought under the New Zealand flag", well it appears that you probably didn't, if the Australian experience is anything to go by:

Australians have rarely "fought under" the present flag. The only war (undeclared) where servicemen "fought under" Australia's current flags was the Vietnam War. The Union Jack was the only flag used on our side during the Boer War, the Union Jack was again predominant in the First World War (it being the senior flag until 1953). And there was confusion among the Union Jack, the Red Ensign, and the Blue Ensign. The famous Changi Flag, which flew at the liberation of Singapore in 1945 was a Red Ensign. The United Nations flag was the flag we "fought under" in the Korean War. In any event, Australians did not literally "fight under" any flag. Flags were not used in battles lest they be beacons for opposing forces.

Finally, check out some of the great designs proposed in Australia. I particularly like this one.

Comments:
There are other countries with the Union Jack; mainly in the West Indies; Cayman Islands, Bermuda etc... And of course there's Maggie's Falklands (admittedly not a sovereign state)

that's a good site you've linked to with all the flags. Check out Greenland. Phat.
 
Yeah, there are various other territories that have the Union Jack canton, but as far as I can tell they're not independent, self-governing states.

Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Caymen Islands, Fawkland Islands, etc. are all British Overseas Territories.
 
Fair enough.

Does anyone know where Sark is?

And are residents of this place called Sarkastics?
 
Sark is in the Channel Islands. Among other things it is distinctly feudal - check this out as a Sarkastic oath of allegiance -

"The Seigneur, after inheriting the Fief, is required to pay "Foi et Hommage" to the Sovereign. The Seigneur kneels at the Sovereign's feet with his hands held out palm to palm and, in the case where the reigning sovereign is female, Her Majesty encloses the Seigneur's hands with Her own and the Seigneur says: "Souveraine Dame, Je demeure Votre homme lige à Vous porter Foi et Hommage contre tous". Her Majesty replies "Nous vous acceptons advouant tous vos legitimes droits et possessions relevant de cette tenure de Nous, sauf pareillement à tous Nos Droits de Regalité". This is the old feudal homage following the same pattern as that sworn by King Harold to William Duke of Normandy in 1064. "
 

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