You may have gathered that I do like to soak off-centre facts, filing them away in the dusty attic that is my head and like most dusty attics, once stored, things can be tricky to find again.
That’s why I sometimes use my blog selfishly, to record the things I’d quite like to remember for future reference. It’s also why there is a search box up there on the right.
Today is a case in point. David Cameron’s house call on Barack Obama didn’t get off to the best of starts when our flag was flown upside down. This ignited a perennial radio discussion on this thorny topic.
Fortunately there was a vexillologist on hand from the UK Flag Institute to explain and clarify:
- Union Jack and Union Flag are both acceptable whether at sea or dry land. Both terms have been used interchangeably by politicians and the navy for a very, very long time.
- You can tell if it is flown the right way up if the white stripe of the cross of St Andrew is narrowest at the top next to the flagpole. This signifies the seniority of Scotland over Northern Ireland as they have been part of the Union for longer.
- Any flag flown upside down is a sign of distress, just not a very practical one. The French flag, for example, is the same either way. It would be extremely difficult to tell if the Union Flag were upside down unless you were quite close, ie on the ship that is in distress.
So there you go. A few more titbits filed away for when I need them.