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United Kingdom: diplomatic and consular flags

Last modified: 2001-06-30 by rob raeside
Keywords: united kingdom | union jack | blue ensign | consular service | wreath |
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[Ambassador's flag] by Graham Bartram

The above drawing of the flag of an ambassador or high commissioner shows the larger wreath and the gold band that now surrounds all 'wreathed' badges.

Graham Bartram, 11 December 1999

Consular officers

[Consular service on land] by Jaume Ollé

Taken from E.M.C. Barraclough, Flags of the World:

Two flags are used by the Consular Service. When ashore, Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls etc. are distinguished by the Union Flag, with in the centre a Royal Crown on a plain white circular background. When on duty afloat, the Blue Ensign is flown, with the full Royal Arms in colour in the fly and without any white background. The Consular Blue Ensign, being a personal distinguishing flag, must be flown at the bow, and not at the stern, which is the accepted position for the national colours. No further flag is necessary, but if, for some special reason it is desired to wear a flag at the stern, then this should be the Red Ensign ... Her Majesty's Ambassadors and Ministers (and in their absence, Chargé-d'Affaires) fly the Union Flag with the Royal Arms on a white circular background, surrounded by a garland, in the centre. This flag is flown over our Embassies and Legations on certain prescribed days in the year, and it is also used when the holders are afloat.

Pascal Vagnat, 27 March 1997

Since 1869 the British consular flag afloat has been the royal arms applied directly (no white disc as used for diplomatic officers on the Union Flag) to the field of a Blue Ensign. One peculiarity; consular officials are permitted to hoist their defaced Blue Ensign, only in boats. It is never hoisted in a ship, unless that ship is firing a salute to a consular official. No, I don't know when a boat gets big enough to be called a ship.

David Prothero, 9 April 1997

The following flags are in current use:

  • Diplomatic officers both on shore and afloat:
    royal arms on a white disc surrounded by a laurel garland on a Union Flag.
  • Consular officers on shore:
    royal crown on a white disc, with no garland, on a Union Flag.
  • Consular officers afloat:
    royal arms applied directly to the field of a Blue Ensign.

David Prothero, 12 July 1997

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