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Falkland Islands

Last modified: 2001-05-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: falkland islands | sheep | bullock | sealion |
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[Falkland Islands] by Graham Bartram
Flag adopted 29 September 1948.

See also:

Description of the flag

[Falkland Islands, pre-1999 pattern] by Graham Bartram and António Martins
The pre-1999 blue ensign.

The flag actually changed in appearance this year (1999) when the Ministry of Defence changed the specification for the placement of badges on ensigns. The size of the badge was increased considerably (200% - 300%) and all white discs were removed. The badges are now more like major charges on the field rather than small augmentations. In the future, if one of these flags needs to be differenced (e.g. the Falkland's Police ensign - which doesn't actually exist) the second badge will sit in the centre of the third quarter.
Graham Bartram, 12 October and 11 December 1999

The The Merchant Shipping (Falkland Islands Colours) Order 1998 was made on 16th December 1998, laid before Parliament on 4th January 1999 and coming into force on the 25th of January this year.
Jan Oskar Engene, 10 November 1999

I am a bit puzzled by this change of size in the badges. Does the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence have the authority to change the flags of the dependencies? I mean, if I am not mistaken the Falkland Island red ensign was adopted through the "The Merchant Shipping (Falkland Islands Colours) Order" which was approved by "The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council." I guess there will be similar legislation for other dependencies. Can the UK Ministry of Defence just overturn such legislation?
Jan Oskar Engene, 13 October 1999

I think that the Ministry of Defence has inherited the right of the Admiralty to indicate how the badges should be displayed on a flag. The flags actually used are not necessarily the same as the drawings in even official flag books, so perhaps no one will be surprised. For example, in 1936 the Admiralty Flag Book of 1930 was amended with a new badge for the Falkland Islands based on the arms granted in 1925. However the arms were not popular, ("have no artistic merit,", "furnish occasion for critical levity,") and the old badge continued in use until 1948 when the 1925 arms were cancelled and replaced by the current arms.
David Prothero, 17 October 1999

Orders in Council are part of the law of the land. The Ministry of Defence can only override them if this power is given to them in the order.
Andrew Yong, 19 October 1999

Until April 1964 defacements for Red Ensigns were authorized by Admiralty Warrant. After the Admiralty became Ministry of Defence (Navy), Red Ensign defacements were issued by Royal Warrant. Under the Merchant Shipping (Registration etc.) Act of 1993, defaced Red Ensigns must be authorized by Orders in Council. The only Blue Ensign defacements that required a warrant were those for India and chartered companies. All other Blue Ensign defacements were considered to be for "ships belonging to Her Majesty" and thus did not require a warrant. It seems that the Ministry of Defence can amend and issue defacements of the Blue Ensign but not of the Red Ensign.
David Prothero, 21 October 1999

Description of the badge

The arms of the Falkland Islands are: 'blue chief with a white ram on a grass compartment over a blue and white wavy base bearing a Tudor style ship'. Before 1948, there was a bull in the badge, but since sheep-raising is the major activity on the islands, they changed it to a ram.

The ship is supposed to be the Desire, the ship that discovered the islands in 1592, thus giving us the colony's motto 'Desire the Right', as it was written on a scroll at the bottom of it. The ship and the river are in the newer badge much more stylized.

Roy Stilling, Stuart Park, Nick Artimovich, 21 February 1996

Civil ensign

[Civil ensign] by Graham Bartram and António Martins

Boats and ships registered in the Falkland Islands are entitled to carry a special defaced red ensign. This is provided for in the Merchant Shipping (Falkland Islands Colours) Order, 1998, which came into force on 25 January 1999. The Falkland Islands red ensign was designed by the late director of the Flag Institute, Dr William Crampton, in spring 1996.

Jos Poels, 25 January 1999

The Falkland Island red ensign still has a small badge on a white disk. This is what the illustration in the order in Council shows, and the text explicitly says:

"The positioning and proportions of the defacement shall be in accordance with the illustration in the Schedule hereto."
The order does not give the Ministry of Defence the power to change the flag.

Jan Oskar Engene, 19 October 1999

Shortly after the Merchant Shipping (Falkland Islands Colours) Order, 1998 was issued I spoke to Mr A. K. Galloway, clerk of the Privy Council, who actually signed the instrument. According to him the civil ensign doesn't have a white disc on it. It's not mentioned in the text and, according to him, a white circle was only included on the black and white illustration as otherwise the arms would not have been visible, black on black. We talked about doing future statutory instruments in colour to avoid confusion of this sort.

So the question of the circle is moot - officially it doesn't exist, and the Ministry of Defence doesn't need to get rid of it. The size of the badge is indeed specified, and the Ministry of Defence doesn't have absolute control over civil ensigns, sharing that honour with the Department of Environment, Transport, and Regions. In terms of blue ensigns the proportions of badges are within the Ministry of Defence's competency and can be changed by the Ministry of Defence without reference to anyone else. The actual badges are defined in consultation between the Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and College of Arms.

Graham Bartram, 11 December 1999

The Red Ensign defaced with the badge of the Falkland Islands was approved by Her Majesty 16th December 1998 and came into effect on 25th January 1999 (Statutory Instrument 1998 No 3147).
David Prothero, 14 August 2000

Former flag and badge

[Former flag of the Falklands] by Steven Shea

[Former governor's flag] by Steven Shea

These are the former governor's flag and Blue Ensign of the Falkland Islands.

Steve Shea, 19 August 1997

When the system of defacements to the blue ensign was introduced in 1865, the instruction was that the ensign should be defaced with the 'seal or badge' of the colony. In the Falkland Islands, the circular picture of a ship and a cow/bull/bullock was the seal from 1846 until 1925. So it was used on the first blue ensign sometime after 1865 and probably continued in use until 1948 when the 'sheep above a ship' was used on the flag. But between 1925 and 1948 the seal of the colony was a shield with a port quarter view of a sailing ship on a blue background, overlaid in the lower left half of the shield by a seal (the marine mammal) on a brown background. Was this ever used on a flag?

David Prothero, 13 July 1997

The 'Bullock Triumphant' was approved 1876. It was based on the existing seal which had been designed when, 'wild cattle were the dominating feature of the Colony'. I have an idea that it was also a punning reference to a Captain Bullock who was involved in the early history of the Falkland Islands.

David Prothero, 9 January 2000

1925 Badge

[Falklands 1925 badge] by David Prothero and António Martins

Arms granted 16th October 1925.  "Per bend Azure and Or, sinister a representation of the ship "Desire" dimidiated and issuant Argent Flag and Pennon charged with a Cross Gules and dexter a Sea Lion proper, with the Motto "Desire the Right"." ... "to be borne for the said Colony of the Falkland Islands upon Seals Shields Banners or otherwise according to the Laws of Arms."
António Martins, 14 January 2000

It should have been used as a badge, surrounded by the usual garland, on the Union Flag of the Governor, and on the fly of the Blue Ensign, with no white disc.  These details appeared in Amendment 5 (1937) to the 1930 edition of the Admiralty Flag Book.  In practice it is likely that the earlier circular badge approved in 1876 continued to be used on both flags until replaced by the current badge in 1948.
David Prothero, 14 January 2000

The sea-lion/sailing ship arms were replaced by the current arms (sheep above a sailing ship) 29 September 1948 (from Colonial Office "Flags, Badges and Arms"). David Prothero, 25 March 2000

British joint services flag in the Falklands

[British joint services flag]
by António Martins, 21 Dec 1999

The British joint services flag used following the Argentinian invasion. It is still in use and can be seen on the rank plates on the vehicles of some senior officers. The Arms with the seal is still in use as the cap badge and arms of the Falkland Islands Defense Force, who refused to change to the sheep one.
Chris Harris, 23 April 2001

It follows the design of British unified command (i.e. Royal Navy/Army/RAF) car plates. I would guess that it was the command flag of "Commanding Officer - The Falkland Islands". You can see the official Unified Service flags at [See also British joint services flag on FOTW.]
Graham Bartram, 25 April 2001

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