Wiltshire, since 2009
Most of the recenty-adopted English county flags have been fairly traditional, but this one goes a bit beyond the standard heraldry toolkit. The curved stripes repesent the green downs of the country with the white chalk underneath them.
That bird in the centre is called the Great Bustard. What a name!
(designer: Helen Pocock)
A periodic table showing which countries are associated with which elemental discoveries made by James Gallagher
“Before written history, people were aware of some of the elements in the periodic table. Elements such as gold (Au), silver (Ag), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), tin (Sn), and mercury (Hg),” were the elements of antiquity, according to Brewton-Parker College‘s history of the elements. In the mid-17th century the search for the myriad elements we know today really got going with Hennig Brands’ discovery of phosphorus.
Every element has a story, and talking to Smart News Gallagher recounted one of his favorite tales of elemental discovery:
One of my favourites has to be polonium, though, the first element to be discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie. They were working in a modified shed with substances so dangerously radioactive their notes are still too active to be handled safely.
Working together they isolated this element and later named it Polonium after Marie’s home country. (A country, I may add, that turned her away from her pursuit of education as she was a politically interested female). It was her hope that by naming the element after Poland she could generate interested in the independence (from Germany) campaign for the country. Yet the victory comes in under the French flag where the work was carried out.
It remains to this day the only element to be named after a political cause, and a wonderful tribute to a phenomenal woman.
St. Patrick’s Flag (since the 19th century)
If you know much about flags, you probably know that the Union Jack is a combination of the St. George’s cross of England, the St. Andrew’s saltire of Scotland, and the St. Patrick’s saltire of Ireland. What you might not have known is that the St. Patrick’s flag was practically invented for the occasion.
The first organization to associate the red diagonal cross on white with Ireland’s patron saint was the Order of St. Patrick, established in 1783 as an Irish counterpart to the English Order of the Garter and the Scottish Order of the Thistle. Before then the cross associated with St. Patrick was usually upright, and was often a cross pattée (a cross with flared arms). The colours could vary but green and red (sometimes on a yellow background) were common.
Contemporary Irish opinion was against the Order’s badge, saying that their saltire was too Scottish. But it was this version of St. Patrick’s cross that made its way onto the new Union Jack in 1801, and it was only after then that it began to used as a flag on its own. There’s some evidence of red saltires on white being used in Ireland before 1783, but none of them have ever been definitively linked to Saint Patrick or Ireland itself.
Women’s Social and Political Union, 1908-1917
The WSPU never had an official flag, as far as I know, but it’s distincitve violet-white-green colours — which could be found on posters, scarves, badges, ribbons, and banners — were frequently displayed as a tricolour. The stripes could be vertical or horizontal, and either green or violet could come first, but the version above was pretty common.
A very similar design is used today as the gendequeer flag, although the resemblance is purely coincidental.
United Kingdom (proposed), 2013
This one comes from a BBC News article about the fate of the British flag if Scotland secedes. (Short answer: probably nothing.) It doesn’t seem to be a proposal for a post-Scotland UK though. Rather it combines the crosses of St. George, St. Andrew, St. David, and St. Patrick into a crazy new pinwheel design. Kind of like a modern reinterpretation of the process that created the current Union Jack. I can’t imagine it would ever become a national flag, but wouldn’t it be rad if it did?
(designer: John Yates)
Well someone ships USUK…
British Indian Ocean Territory, since 1990
The BIOT is an unusual territory and it has an unusual ensign with a wavy white and blue background. The device on the fly is a palm tree with a crown over it, which seems to be imperialist shorthand for “We control a tropical island.” Looking at this flag you would never know that there was a whole group of people that called this place home. Then again, maybe that’s kind of the point.
United Kingdom (proposed civil air ensign), 1929
The original civil air ensign came about because the UK is really stuck up about who gets to use the Union Jack. See, back in the day international airlines used these things called “flying boats”, which were basically seaplanes with giant buoyant fuselages. The great thing about them was that they didn’t need a runway, so they could fly to places with minimal infrastructure.
When a flying boat stopped flying it was just a boat, which meant it needed an ensign. The British airline Imperial Airways wanted to fly the Union Jack, but they were informed that it was reserved for British warships. So they requested a new flag that they could. The Air Ministry considered a bunch of different designs, all of which had a sky blue background. Some of them, like the one above, tried to incorporate a red St. George’s cross. In the end they realized that red on light blue wasn’t the most appealing colour scheme in the world (see also Queensland), and went with the more unconventional dark blue cross.