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Flag of Jersey
See adjacent text.
Use Civil and state flag
Proportion 3:5[1]
Adopted April 7th, 1981
Design Red saltire on a white field, surmounted by a yellow Plantagenet crown, and the badge of Jersey.
The Flag of the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey
FIAV historical.svgFIAV 110000.svg Flag of Jersey before 1981. Flag ratio: 3:5

The flag of Jersey was adopted by the States of Jersey on June 12, 1979, proclaimed by the Queen on December 10, 1980 and first officially hoisted on April 1, 1981.

It is white with a diagonal red cross extending to the corners of the flag and in the upper quadrant, surmounted by a yellow Plantagenet crown, the badge of Jersey (a red shield holding the three leopards of Normandy in yellow).

History of the flag

The new flag used officially since 1981 has the arms of Jersey surmounted by a Plantagenet crown. Prior to this, the flag was a plain red saltire on a white field.

Historical research has failed to ascertain the origin of this flag. Among the legends are a story that a mistranslation from Dutch of the word Erse ("Irish") in a Dutch chart endowed Ierse (Jersey) with a cross of St. Patrick by mistake. However, French Admiralty charts show that Jersey was using the red saltire before the adoption of that symbol for the Order of St. Patrick and its incorporation into the modern Union Flag.

This is supported however by the fact that, first of all, The FitzGerald family, namely the Earls of Kildare and Dukes of Leinster, owned land on Jersey and the old Dutch map mentioned above showed the flag of the FitzGerald family with the legend “Erse” (Irish) above it. This was shown on later maps as “Ierse” (Jersey). The origin of the cross used in the Union Flag is unclear but many subsequent commentators have assumed that the saltire was simply taken from the arms of the FitzGeralds whose arms carry the same cross and his flag was incorporated into the Union Flag much later in 1801. This explains its use in Jersey before the use of the red saltire in the Union Flag. It appears therefore that the FitzGerald flag has been misused twice, first as the flag of Jersey and later as the flag of St Patrick.

The use of the red saltire became more common during the German Occupation of World War II as the local population were not allowed to display the Union Flag in occupied territory. Although the heraldic symbols of Jersey were used by the island's government during this time, however, all public buildings and landmarks (such as Fort Regent and Mont Orgueil) flew the Swastika.

Some claim that the red saltire has a Norman origin. The red saltire of the Order of St. Patrick was derived at the end of the 18th century from the heraldry of the Hiberno-Norman Fitzgerald family. If it is an old Norman symbol, then Jersey's saltire may derive from the same origin. Little evidence can be adduced to support this theory.

A traditional belief is as follows: Jersey, along with the other Channel Islands, was granted neutrality by Papal Bull during periods of warfare between England and France. Since they were able to trade freely with both sides, Jersey ships required a way of differentiating themselves from English ships. They therefore rotated the St. George's Cross of the English Crown to form a saltire.

As Jersey gained a higher profile on the international stage in the second half of the 20th century, it was felt by many in Jersey that the flag was insufficiently distinctive to represent the island, that there was too much confusion with the cross of St. Patrick as an Irish symbol, and that the red saltire had been taken as one of the international maritime signal flags.

Others, though, wanted to keep the traditional red saltire that had been used since time immemorial.

A third influential body of opinion campaigned for the adoption of a banner of the three leopards, the island's heraldic device.

The current flag can therefore be seen as a compromise between the various strands of opinion.

Although the flag is flown in Jersey, the three leopards are much more widely used as a national symbol by the authorities and civil population alike.

References

  1. ^ Jersey; Flags of the World; (c.1996 - Present)


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