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Island flags ‘will be flown’ at Queen’s birthday parades

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Flags hang from masts at the Trooping of the Colour, with soldiers parading beneath them
Flags of St Helena, the Falklands and other UK islands will fly at state occasions, says report. Picture by hapticflapjack/flickr

The flags of Britain’s overseas territories are to feature in the birthday celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen – at the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

St Helena flag - blue with the union flag in one corner, and a shield on the right showing a wirebird and a sailing ship approaching the island
St Helena's flag. Ascension, Tristan and the Falklands have their own

The idea was put forward by Andrew Rosindell MP, who said the flags should be displayed in the ceremony at Buckingham Palace and on “all appropriate state occasions”.

Mr Rosindell, chairman of the British Overseas Territories All Party Parliamentary Group, suggested the move during the recent UK government consulation on Britain’s relationship with the overseas territories.

Now a government report says the honour will be granted to islands such as St Helena, and even tiny Pitcairn.

The unnoticed “announcement” has come from The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), in a document about what it does for the overseas territories.

It says: “For the Trooping of the Colour ceremony and other ceremonial occasions, the flags of the Overseas Territories will be flown to bring these territories in line with the Commonwealth Nations.”

That might be seen in some quarters as an admission that the 14 territories have been overlooked in Britain’s national culture.

It’s not clear whether it was Mr Rosindell’s nudge that brought about the honour.

The Queen, in an open coach, with parading soldiers at the Trooping the Colour ceremony
The Queen never missed the Trooping the Colour parade

The Trooping the Colour parade has marked the Sovereign’s official birthday since 1748.

Edward VII began a tradition of taking the Royal salute in person.

The Queen also inspects the troops. Then the Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks, and the Foot Guards, the Household Cavalry, and The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, parade past.Her Majesty later joins other members of the Royal Family on the palace balcony for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.

The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour every year of her reign except 1955, when it was cancelled because of a national rail strike.

The culture department report also says the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations this summer are a chance to “reflect on the cultural ties that link the UK and its Overseas Territories”. It doesn’t say how.

“Many people from the Overseas Territories will be taking part in the celebrations,” it says.  

The appearance of Pitcairn’s flag at state occasions might bring a wry smile to the faces of historians who recall how the little community was born in an act of defiance against state authority – the mutiny on The Bounty.

And will the Chagos Islanders will be invited to show their flag, four decades after they were forcibly removed from their homes in the British Indian Ocean Territory to make way for a US air base?

Many died in poverty and despair, and their descendants are still pressing for the right to return. The UK Chagos Association responded to the White Paper consultation on how Britain could improve its support for the territories.

DCMS report on is relationship with British overseas territories
Trooping the Colour – Royal Family website

Island life is tough, report finds, but a Lottery win would help
The Chagos Islands: a sordid tale

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