The Royal Standard
The dramatic illustration above is taken from the front cover of The Illustrated London News of March 14th 1863 and was published at the time of the wedding of The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, on March 7th 1863 to Alexandra, the eldest daughter of King Kristian IX of Denmark. Their second son, George (1865-1936) was to become George V.
In glorious weather, the
great ceremonial Royal Standard flew over Windsor Castle on April
21st 2005 by way of a salute to Queen Elizabeth on the occasion
of her 79th birthday. The photo above does not really do justice
to this flag's immense size. It measures 38 feet (11.58 meters)
across by 19 feet (5.79 meters) deep and flies only on very special
occasions. Certainly the Queen's Birthday, her real birthday,
is one such occasion, and another is the day of the Garter Service
in mid-June. Also, earlier in April 2005, the flag had been flown
to mark the wedding of HRH Prince Charles to the Camilla Parker
Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall. On other occasions a smaller
version of the Royal Standard is flown.
Flying the Union Flag at Half Mast
It is often believed that all flags should
be flown at half mast on the occasion of the death of the monarch
as a sign of mourning. This does not apply to the monarch's flag,
the Royal Standard. It was therefore impossible for the flag
to be flown at half mast on the occasion of Diana, Princess of
Half mast means the flag is actually lowered by one third of the height of the flag staff. This can be seen clearly in the picture above. Whenever the Union flag is flown at 'half mast' it is first raised to the top of the mast and then lowered by one third of the height of the mast. It must remain moving throughout this procedure.
More about the Union Flag
The Union Flag is described as 'the people's
flag' and is accepted worldwide as the national flag of the United
Kingdom. The four countries comprising the United Kingdom are
Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales, each of which have in addition
their own flags. Since the creation of the Irish Republic, the
Union flag now represents Northern Ireland which remains part
of the United Kingdom. Although the Union Flag has never been
officially declared to be the United Kingdom's national flag,
it is of course the flag that is always waved at, say, The Last
Night of the Proms or along processional routes and flown from
flagpoles to mark a national event.
The British flag is sometimes referred
to as the Union Jack. Many believe that this is wrong and that
the term 'jack' should refer only to the flag when flown aboard
ship. A little known detail dates from 1902 when the Admiralty
declared that the flag could be known as both the Union Flag
and the Union Jack, its first name from the earliest days in
Flag Days in the UK - Union Flag
Maintaining the Flag Staff
Elsewhere on The Royal Windsor Web Site we feature the story of Billy Wilkins who was to be seen every so often perched aloft suspended from the flag staff at Windsor, bees-waxing the flag pole! Despite this loving care, the flag staff has had to be replaced from time to time. One such occasion was in 1892. It is understood that the 'button', the large circular cap from the top of this flag pole was in the care of the Constitution Club in Windsor for many years.
Additional photographs and information about the flags and flag staff at Windsor are being prepared. The loan of your photographs, especially of Billy Wilkins, would be very much appreciated.
In the autumn of 2002 we came across this image of the castle which so far remains a mystery. Why does the flag staff look like a ship's mast?
The original image was
published as a stereoview in the 1890s so suggestions that it
was for Queen Victoria's 60th Jubilee in 1897, whilst possible,
seem unlikely, especially as this particular aspect of the celebrations
at Windsor was not otherwise reported or pictured, to the best
of our knowledge. Could the flag staff have carried additional
flags to mark the start of the new century? Probably not, as
the trees are in leaf and so New Year was some months away. That
leaves a less auspicious occasion that escaped the attention
of picture editors. Perhaps the additional spars across the flag
staff were somehow connected with the replacement of the flag
staff itself in 1892. This too is unlikely as pictures of the
replacement mast being erected show no such structures. Another
clue as to the possible date lies in the work being undertaken
along the riverside, during the construction of the promenade
towards the end of the last century.
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