heraldic flags In Scotland come under the legal jurisdiction of the Lord
Lyon King of Arms, in terms of the Act of Parliament 1672 cap. 47 and
under 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 17. The Lord Lyon’s regulations governing the
display of heraldic flags in Scotland are broadly as follows. Doubts and
questions of exact detail should be referred to the Court of the Lord
Lyon, HM New Register House, Edinburgh, EH1 3YT, telephone 01315567255.
The size of a flag
depends on the site where it is flown, from very small flags for table
decorations to enormous flags for the top of a tower. Clear legibility
determines the size suitable. Therefore sizes are only given hereafter
for special flags, where the sizes are fixed by regulation.
The proportions of a
flag, the relation of its width to its height, remain constant regardless
of its size. Where relevant, these are given hereafter in the form "2:1",
i.e.. a flag whose width is twice its height.
The "hoist" is the part of the flag
nearest to the pole.
The "fly" is the
part of the flag furthest from the pole. In long flags such as Standards,
the devices are described in order reading from the hoist to the fly.
All heraldic flags are designed with the
convention that the pole is on the left of the flag, from the spectator's
point of view. And it is on this convention that the flag and its
contents are described. A lion rampant, for example, will face or
"respect" the pole. Heraldic devices are sewn right through the flag's
material, so on its reverse side all the devices will be reversed left to
right, and the lion will still respect the pole. Lettering on flags such
as Standards is the only exception to this rule, otherwise the words
would read backwards on the reverse side. Such exceptions have to be of
suitable to the context and the owner's pocket maybe used for flags, from
nylon or nylonandwool bunting for flags flown out of doors to silk,
satin and rich brocades for flags used for internal display. Metallic
nylon "Lurex" material gives good and economic results when used for gold
Except in a few cases such as Standards,
fringes are regarded as mere decoration to be added or omitted at the
owner's whim. Where used, they should be either plain and of the same
metal (gold or silver) that is predominant in the flag, or they may be of
alternate portions of the main colour and the main metal of the flag
There are no fixed
"heraldic colours" for flags. Any red that is clearly "red" and not
orange or purple is correct. In general it is found that the brightest
possible colours give the best effect. The rules of heraldic composition
prevent garish results.
i.e.. Gold and Silver. These occur in
almost all heraldic flags, and can be shown either as yellow and white or
as metallic gold and silver. Whichever is chosen, its use should be
consistent within the flag. Not yellow AND gold.
10. THE UNION FLAG
"The Union Jack", this is the correct flag for all citizens and corporate
bodies of the United Kingdom to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and
their nationality. It is often flown upside down, and the rule is that
the broader white diagonals should be uppermost in the hoist, i.e.. next
to the pole. Its correct proportions are 2:1.
11. THE SALTIRE
The flag of St
Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. Blue with a white or silver
diagonal cross reaching to its edges, this is the correct flag for all
Scots or Scottish corporate bodies to fly to demonstrate their loyalty
and their Scottish nationality. Its proportions are not fixed, but 5:4 is
suitable. It is correct both to fly it with or instead of the Union Flag.
12. THE "RAMPANT LION"
This is NOT a national flag and its use
by citizens and corporate bodies is entirely wrong. Gold, with a red
rampant lion and royal tressure. It is the Scottish Royal banner, and its
correct use is restricted to only a few Great Officers who officially
represent the Sovereign, including the Secretary of State for Scotland as
Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, Lord Lieutenants in their
Liutenancies, the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the
Church of Scotland. the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and other lieutenants
specially appointed. Its use by other, nonauthorised persons is an
offence under the Acts 1672 cap. 47 and 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 17.
13. THE PERSONAL BANNER
This is often wrongly called a "Standard"
(see para. 17 below) and is the personal flag of the owner of a coat of
arms (an "armiger"). It shows his personal coat of arms granted to him by
the Lord Lyon or inherited in right of an ancestor, and protected to him
by the Law of Scotland. The coat of arms fills the banner right to its
edges, as though it were a rectangular shield. It is quite wrong to use a
banner of a plain colour with the owner's arms on a shield in the middle.
This would mean that the owner's arms were of that colour with a lithe
inescutcheon In the centre. Nor should the external "additaments" be
shown, i.e.. helmet, mantling, crest, motto and supporters. Its purpose
is the location and identification of its owner, and it Is the visual
equivalent of his name. No one else may use it. Flown over his house it
denotes that he is there, and as a house flag its proportions are 5:4.
The size of a house flag depends on the height of the building and the
pole, and it should be large enough to be intelligible at the height at
which it is flown.
For personal use, the size and shape
varies according to rank, as follows, excluding any fringes:
The Sovereign :
60 Inches square
48 Inches square
42 inches square
Barons and Feudal Barons :
36 Inches square
Other Armigers :
28 inches wide x 35 inches high
These are personal
banners for carrying in processions, either by their owners or their
appointed henchmen, for example at Highland Games. They are made of silk
or satin or bunting at their owner's choice and may be fringed or not.
When so used, there are regulation sizes according to rank, not including
any fringes, as follows:
Peers : 48 inches wide x 60 inches high
Feudal Barons : 36 inches wide x 45 inches high
: 33 inches wide x 42 inches high
Chieftains : 30 inches wide x 36 inches
high Other sizes may occasionally be laid down by the Lord Lyon for
15. CORPORATION BANNERS
These are the equivalent of
personal banners for companies or other corporate bodies, such as
Regional or District Councils, which have been granted arms by the Lord
Lyon. The flag shows the coat of arms filling its whole rectangular
shape, as for personal banners (para. 13). The extent of its usage
depends upon the corporate body, whether it is only flown over the
headquarters building or at all the company's or corporation's sites. Its
use as a car bonnet flag is restricted to the head of the corporate body
and when he is acting as such. Its proportions are 5:4.
16. PIPE BANNERS
These are banners of
personal arms as in para. 13, but cut slanted at the top to fit against
the big drone and hang down the piper's back. They are used by most
Chiefs and Lairds who have personal pipers, and by the Highland regiments
whose company commanders’ pipe banners are displayed on the regiment's
pipes. The correct usage is for the arms to fill the entire banner to its
edges, but some regiments have different customs, such as showing the
whole achievement including supporters, or the crest alone. Such
traditions are now hallowed by the centuries and are permitted. The
pipemajors of local government or works pipebands may display their
appropriate pipebanner of the corporation or company's arms.
SPECIAL HERALDIC FLAGS
17. THE STANDARD
This is a long, narrow tapering flag,
granted by the Lord Lyon only to those who have a "following", such as
Clan Chiefs, because it is a "Headquarters" flag. It is used to mark the
assembly point or Headquarters of the Clan or following, and does not
necessarily denote the presence of the Standard's owner as his personal
banner does. Ancient standards usually showed the national Saltire in the
hoist, next to the pole, but nowadays usually show the owner's personal
arms. The remainder of the flag is horizontally divided into two tracts
of his "livery colours" for Chiefs of Clans or families, three tracts for
very major branchChieftains, and four for others. Those of peers and
barons have the end split into two and rounded. Upon this background are
usually displayed the owner's crest and heraldic badges, separated by
transverse bands bearing the owner's motto or slogan. The standard is
fringed with the alternating livery colours. The height of the standard
is not fixed, but it is usually about 4 feet at the pole tapering to
about 24 inches at the end. The length of the standard varies according
to the rank of its owner, as follows:
The Sovereign :
6 1/2 yards
5 1/2 yards
4 1/2 yards
Knights and Barons :
The standards of
nonbaronial chiefs, or others who for special reasons get standards,
have round unsplit ends.
The height of the flagpole
should take account of the length of the standard when hanging slack.
On rare occasions a uniform length of
standard for a decorative display may be laid down by the Lord Lyon.
Where it is desired to display other matter along with the National Flag
the Standard is the appropriate form of flag. It should show the Saltire
Flag or the Union Jack in the hoist, and the remainder of the flag may
contain lettering appropriate to the user's purpose, for example the name
of an exhibition or site of a gathering.
18. THE GUIDON
This is a similar shape to
the Standard, and is onethird shorter than the Standards assigned to
Feudal Barons. It is 8 feet long, and is assigned by the Lord Lyon to
Lairds who have a following, as for Standards, but are of nonbaronial
tenure. The Guidon tapers to a round, unsplit end at the fly, has a
fringe of the livery colours, and has a background of the livery colours
of its owner's arms. The owner's Crest or Badge (formerly his arms
without supporters) are shown In the hoist, with his motto or slogan In
19. THE PENNON
similar to the Guidon but half its length, i.e.. 4 feet. It Is assigned
to armigers in very rare cases and circumstances nowadays.
20. THE PINSEL
This is the flag denoting a
person to whom a Clan Chief has delegated his authority for a particular
occasion, such as a Clan Gathering when the Chief himself is absent, In a
word, the flag of the Chiefs representative. It is triangular in shape, 2
feet high at the hoist and tapering to 4 feet 6 inches in width, with a
background of the main livery colour of the Chiefs arms. On it is shown
the Chiefs crest, within a strap of the second livery colour and buckle
(gold for full Chiefs), bearing the motto, and outside the strap and
buckle a gold circlet (outlined in green if the background is not a
contrasting colour to gold) inscribed with the Chief's or Baron's title.
On top of this circlet is set the owner's coronet of rank or his baronial
cap. In the fly is shown the owner's plant badge and a scroll inscribed
with his slogan or motto. This flag is allotted only to Chiefs or very
special Chieftainbarons for practical use, and only upon the specific
authority of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.
21. NATIONAL FLAGS
The Union Flag
and/or the Scottish Saltire Flag may be freely flown by any Scot or
Scottish Corporate body anywhere in Scotland, to demonstrate their
nationality and allegiance. No special permission is required, and either
or both may correctly be flown.
22. THE ‘LION RAMPANT’
The personal banner of the King of Scots
may NOT be flown by anyone other than those specifically authorised as
variously representing the Sovereign, as set out in para. 12 above. Its
use by other nonauthorised persons is an offence under the Acts 1672
cap. 47 and 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 17. The freedom of use accorded to the
Saltire Flag is NOT extended to the Scottish Royal Banner.
23. PERSONAL AND CORPORATE HERALDIC FLAGS
All of these are rigorously protected to
their owners by the Laws of Arms in Scotland, and they may be flown by no
one else. Transgression of the law is an offence, and the Court of the
Lord Lyon includes a Procurator Fiscal whose duty it is to prosecute the