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Southern Rhodesia governor (1924-'70)

Zimbabwe historical flags

Last modified: 2003-04-26 by jarig bakker
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Southern Rhodesia - Governor (1924-'51)

[Southern Rhodesia - Governor (1924-'51)] by Martin Grieve, 15 Jan 2003

In most of the British colonies the flags used by the Sovereign's representative usually followed the same general design.
In Southern Rhodesia, the Governor was appointed by the Crown and acted as the local head of state, receiving instructions from the British Government.  The Governor was also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and as such, in theory at least, exercised considerable influence over the running of the colony and its government.  In practice, however, the Governor's main function was to maintain a satisfactory relationship between the British and Southern Rhodesian Governments and acted in an advisory capacity most of the time.

In Southern Rhodesia the Governor initially flew a Union Flag with a white roundel in the centre charged with the shield from the colony's arms granted on 11 August 1924, namely
"Vert, a Pick Or, on a Chief Argent a Lion Passant Gules between two Thistles leaved and slipped proper".
The lion and thistles were taken from the Arms of Cecil John Rhodes, whose British South Africa Company had been responsible for the initial colonisation of the territory and the gold pick symbolised mining.
Unique among the flags of the Governors of British Colonies, this shield of Arms was not surrounded by the customary wreath. Southern Rhodesia became a British Colony on 12 September 1923 and according to a typed manuscript by TW Baxter entitled "Flags and Arms of Rhodesia" held by the National Archives of Zimbabwe, this flag was taken into use on 1 October 1924 and was flown until 30 July 1951.
Bruce Berry, 15 Jan 2003

Southern Rhodesia - Governor (1951-'65)

[Southern Rhodesia - Governor (1951-'65)] by Martin Grieve, 15 Jan 2003

On 31 July 1951 a new flag was taken into use for the Governor of Southern Rhodesia.  This was dark blue, in proportion 7:9, charged in the centre with a Royal Crown, its height being four-sevenths of the hoist.    Initially the Tudor Crown would have been used, but after her accession to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II indicated her preference for St Edward's Crown and this version would have been used thereafter.
Bruce Berry, 15 Jan 2003

Southern Rhodesia 1951-1965+ (Large crown instead of the crest, no scroll, no inscription) 7:9
This was posted recently by Bruce, in two ratios, in 1953 crown pattern. I presume that 1951-1953 the old style crown was used, though I have no good large image of it to make it into a gif.
Zeljko Heimer, 25 Mar 2003

Southern Rhodesia - Governor (1951-'70) - variant

[Southern Rhodesia - Governor (1951-'65) - var] by Martin Grieve, 15 Jan 2003

Despite these unusual proportions, the National Archives of Zimbabwe has in its possession one of these flags in the standard proportions of 1:2, suggesting that it was in the standard proportions that it was actually manufactured and flown.
The unusual design, compared to the flags used by the Governors of other British Colonies, was presumably to indicate Southern Rhodesia's unique status as a self-governing colony with internal Responsible Government.
This flag continued to be used by the Governor of Southern Rhodesia during the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1953 - 1963) and continued in use after the break-up of the Federation when Southern Rhodesia became simply Rhodesia.  When Rhodesia unilaterally declared its independence (UDI) on 11 November 1965 the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, refused to relinquish his post and thus the flag continued in use after UDI, possibly even until Rhodesia declared itself a republic on 2
March 1970.
Bruce Berry, 15 Jan 2003