His Excellency Mark Capes, Governor of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, has warmly welcomed Royal approval of the design of the first ever flag of Ascension Island, saying:
“I am delighted to announce that Her Majesty The Queen has graciously approved the design of the first ever flag for Ascension Island, part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Ascension Island now has its own flag, which it will fly with pride.
“The residents on Ascension Island will raise their flag for the first time during a ceremony on Saturday 11 May 2013, when the Island will celebrate Ascension Day, after which the Island was named in 1503.”
The flag, as for other Overseas Territories, is the Blue Ensign adorned with the Coat of Arms for Ascension Island (see image to right). Ascension’s Coat of Arms, which was approved by Her Majesty in May 2012, shows important symbols from the Territory, including a shield emblazoned with the Green Mountain that dominates the skyline, together with three Wideawake Birds, secured by two Green Turtles.
Both the design of the Coat of Arms and the flag emerged from an extensive public consultation exercise on Ascension.
Ascension Island has previously flown the Union Flag on Island and on state occasions.
Her Majesty The Queen has approved a new coat of arms for Ascension Island, after a design was drawn up by the College of Arms in London and submitted to Buckingham Palace.
Islanders were asked what they would like to see on the coat of arms, and then the college produced a design based on the features suggested – including the turtles that famously lay their eggs on Ascension’s beaches.
The island council will now consider designs for a flag. In January it was proposed that it should be a blue ensign with the coat of arms on the right-hand side.
The island’s administrator, Colin Wells, says Ascension is the only British overseas territory not to have its own flag. The UK’s Union Flag is used instead.
Ascension also decided in 2009 to begin issuing its own commemorative coins for special occasions, as a source of income and a means of raising the island’s profile around the world.
A worldwide appeal is to be launched for money to restore one of St Helena’s lost landmarks: the steeple on St James’ Church, one of the ‘wonders’ of the island. Here, churchwarden IVY ELLICK outlines a campaign plan worthy of Napoleon.
We are looking at 2015 as our target date for restoring the steeple of St James’. That is when we celebrate the centenary of the landing of Napoleon Bonaparte on St Helena.
Most surprisingly, Napoleon’s death was not registered in any of the country churches, but it is in the register of St James’.
We do some have money left over from phase 2 of the restoration of the church. That will be set aside for the steeple. It is not very large sum, but it will be there and we won’t have to find that amount.
I am determined that once approvals are had, and plans and costings known, we will fund-raise here on the island and appeal to St Helenians and as well the many, many friends of St Helena spread all over the world.
The captains of the RMS St Helena are supportive of the proposal and will do all they can in helping us to raise funds.
We are very fortunate to have a young, energetic vicar in Jamestown, Archdeacon Dale Bowers, who is also very passionate about the proposed project.
The parochial church council is in agreement and we are waiting on our young enthusiastic engineer, Adrian Duncan, to produce plans, options on materials, and costing.
Stone is not one of the options, so we are looking at fibre glass, or lead with a steel frame.
We have not formally put our proposals to the National Trust, the Heritage Society or the Lands Planning Department, but there shouldn’t be a problem. We want to work together with them to restore our heritage.
We must, first of all, meet formally with our bishop to discuss our proposals, and seek the assistance of the Governor to jointly launch the appeal. This will carry more weight in the outside world.
A second phase of restoration work on St James’ – the oldest Anglican church south of the Equator – has just been completed. It involved replacing plaster that had fallen from the tower, walls and pinnacles, and reinforcing the affected areas with steel and concrete. The roof of the tower was replaced, and window frames were repaired and given new leading. Exterior walls were also redecorated. Andrew Duncan was praised for his work.
If the person at the bar suggests calling heads or tails to decide who pays for the drinks, just make sure they’re not holding the new Ascension Island £5 coin.
It’s got heads on both sides.
And not only that, but one side has not just the Queen’s head, as usual, but two of them: one as Her Majesty appears on coins today, and one as she was depicted at the start of her 60-year reign.
The departure from convention is permitted because the coin has been struck to mark the Diamond Jubilee, which is being celebrated around the world – including in the South Atlantic – on 4 June 2012.
It’s not just the unique double-headed face that has got numismatists excited, according to Michael Alexander, writing on the Coin Update website.
“This stunning new coin,” he says, “features a side portrait of the Queen wearing St Edward’s Crown, with the highest relief that has ever been produced on a coin.”
That means the head stands out from the flat background. Such high-relief engraving is usually reserved for medallions, rather than coins. “The technique, which requires a greater degree of striking pressure, results in a design which appears much sharper and more detailed.”
As with so many things marking either the Diamond Jubilee or the London Olympics, a numerical pun is involved: exactly 2,012 of the coins are being issued in silver, and another 1,952 in gold (to mark the Queen’s accession on 6 February 1952).
And now, a true story.
A friend of this website paid £80 for a fifty pence coin that had heads on both sides. He was a magician, and proposed to use the coin in a trick one evening. By the time he arrived at the venue, he was more than a little upset. On his way to the gig, he’d stopped at the village pub to calm his nerves, and had spent his £80 coin on a pint of lager.
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.
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 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.
A proposal to invite Her Majesty the Queen and the President of France to St Helena in 2015 has won the support of the island’s legislative council. It’s understood the Governor’s office will be responsible for issuing the invitation to visit the island, to help mark the 200th anniversary of the Emperor Napoleon’s arrival on the island.
The Queen and the President of France will be invited to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s arrival on St Helena – if the idea wins approvals from island councillors.
The French emperor arrived on the island on 15 October, 1815 – only four days after news reached the island that he was on his way to James Bay.
A motion proposing the Queen and President are invited to the island will go before legislative councillors in Jamestown on Friday (24 January 2012). It has been proposed by Councillor Brian Isaac. It reads:
That this House, recognising the international importance of the Bi-Centenary of Napoleon’s residence on St Helena, and the programme of events that is being drawn up to commemorate the Bi-Centenary, resolves to issue invitations, through the appropriate diplomatic channels, to Her Majesty the Queen and to the President of the Republic of France, to visit the island during the Bi-Centenary period.
Her Majesty will be 89 years old at the time of the 200th anniversary, which may make a visit less likely.
However, the bi-centenary falls only weeks before the first passenger flight is due to arrive at St Helena’s new airport, on 2 December 2015.
As part of the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year, members of the Royal Family are visiting Commonwealth countries and overseas territories. The Earl and Countess of Wessex are currently on a tour of the West Indies, which includes visits to Anguilla and Montserrat.
The current Président de la République Française is Nicolas Sarkozy, but presidential elections take place this year. The main candidates are the right-wing M Sarkozy and the socialist François Hollande, with the extreme right Marine Le Pen polling high in third place.
In 2008, a French delegation visited St Helena at the invitation of the French consul, Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Napoleonic properties being handed to France.
The party was led by Prince d’Essling, president of the Napoleon Foundation, with Count Walewski, a direct descendant of Napoleon, and the Duke d’Albufera, a descendant of one of Napoleon’s most trusted marshals.
The group also included a curator from the Louvre Museum in Paris, a representative of the French Ministry of Culture, and two other scholars.