It’s not unusual for a colonial flag to be designed by someone outside the colony, but this flag wasn’t even designed in Britain. This was the work of one Alec McEwen, a commercial artist from Toronto. Her badge looked a lot like the original from 1903, but with better colours and composition. The two new additions were a sailboat to represent shipping traffic, and a second island in the background to stand in for all the small islands in the chain besides Mahé.
(designer: Alec McEwen)
This Liberian county might have the world’s only purple ensign. Those are five trees on a hill in the badge there. It looks a bit crude, but the drawing was based on a tiny little stamp, so the real life one is probably a bit more detailed.
Koror, since 1997
Crescents and stars don’t always mean Islam. The moon on the flag of Palau’s Koror state represents newness, growth, and potential; while the stars represent the state’s traditional hamlets. Together they form a circle, symbolizing strength and unity, which protects a traditional meeting house.
Murrawarri Republic, since 2013
The Murrawarri people of Australia declared an independent republic earlier this month. I doubt we’re going to see a new country born any time soon, but we’ve at least gotten an interesting new flag out of it. The brown and blue stripes represent earth and sky, or the people and water. The white star represents ancestral spirits which return to the earth on shooting stars, and it has eight points for the eight Murrawarri clans.
Ascension Island, since 2013
Four years after it started looking for one, Ascension finally has a flag of its own. The tiny South Atlantic island forms a single overseas territory with Saint Helena (1300km away) and Tristan da Cunha (3200km away). Until the flag raising on Saturday, it was the last British possession without a flag (excluding the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus).
The final version is a lot like the proposal I reported last year, but the scroll has been removed and a helmet with green and white mantling has been added.
Governor of Alabama, since 1939
The governor of Alabama flies the state flag defaced with the state coat of arms and military crest. The arms are a composite of five flags: French, Castilian, British, Confederate, and American.
Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday which commemorates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla. This is obviously a big deal in the state Puebla, which proudly carries the date right in the middle of its coat of arms.
Like most all Mexican sates, Puebla has no official flag. Instead a white field with the state coat of arms on it is widely used.
President of Namibia, since 1990
In the first draft of the Namibian coat of arms, the two gemsboks which flank the shield were wearing diamond collars. When Sam Nujoma saw this, he noted that you would be unlikely to see a gemsbok running around wearing any collar, much less one studded with diamonds. The heralds agreed and removed them.
The Namibian presidential standard is based on South Africa’s old presidential standard. The colours green, gold, and blue were chosen because they were the most common submissions to the committee that designed the country’s national symbols.
(designer: Frederick Brownell)
Dominica, 1955-1965 (top); 1965-1978 (bottom)
Dominica had two flags before gaining its independence. The first flag (adopted in 1955) featured the colony’s original badge, first granted in 1909 as part of the combined arms of the Leeward Islands. It depicted the HMS Magnificent sailing into Fort Shirley to put down the revolt of the Black 8th West India Regiment in 1802.
Needless to say, Dominica decided to jettison this symbol as it moved towards independence. The island was granted a new coat of arms in 1961 and it was added to the flag four years later. The shield was supported by two sisserou parrots. The same bird is the central emblem on Dominica’s current flag.
And speaking of that flag, there have actually been four versions of it since independence in 1978. The order of the stripes was changed in 1981, the parrot was flipped around in 1988, and the colour of the stars was changed in 1990.
Fiji (proposed), 2013
Kevin Barr, an Australian-born catholic priest and 32-year resident of Fiji, stirred up a bit of a tempest last month when he jokingly suggested replacing the Union Jack on the Fijian flag with the flag of China.
That little jab pissed off Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, who had indicated in a New Year’s Address that he planned to change the flag. The Commodore personally sent Barr a series of angry texts and phone calls, calling him a “fucked up priest” and threatening to deport him. But after some public outcry and the intervention of the Australian High Commission, the Fijian government stood down.
(designer: Father Kevin Barr)
New Hampshire, since 1931
There’s something to be said for good execution. I don’t generally like the typical seal-on-a-sheet style of state flag, but something about New Hampshire’s really appeals to me. I think the elegant wreath around the seal has a lot to do with it.
President of Republika Srpska, since 2007
Republika Srpska had to adopt a new seal after the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled that its old coat of arms was unconstitutional. The new more neutral emblem replaced the coat of arms on the presidential standard in 2007.
The government has since tried to re-adopt the arms with some new additions to represent Bosniaks and Croats, but this version was rejected by the court as well.
The United Nations trust territory of Tanganyika gained independence on 9 December 1961. During its years of British colonial rule, it had a red ensign with a giraffe head on it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that it was the only flag in history to feature a giraffe. (Prove me wrong, internet!)