15th February 1985

Guernsey gets its own flag

Guernsey had an identity problem. Its flag, which it had used since 1936, was the Cross of St George: the same as the one flown by England.

While there’s nothing wrong with the cross itself, it was leading to confusion – particularly at sporting events. Some rival teams were assuming England had entered twice; others, that England and Guernsey’s teams were one.

Something had to be done to differentiate Guernsey, and help it stand out. The ‘thing’ was a flag of its own.

In 1983, the Bailiff, Graham Dorey, founded the Guernsey Flag Investigation Committee to come up with an alternative. The brief was simple: reflect Guernsey’s link to the ‘English’ throne, alongside its French heritage.

This wasn’t the first time the question of a dedicated Guernsey flag had arisen. Similar studies in 1906 and 1935 had failed to deliver, and after the 1935 effort Edward VIII gave consent for Guernsey to share England’s emblem. This time, though, the committee was more successful.

Guernsey flag

Guernsey’s new flag

It retained the cross of St George, but overlaid it with the gold cross of William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy. It was a masterstroke, and much more clever than it appeared. Not only did the gold cross represent Guernsey’s Norman roots, the overlaying of one on the other hints at the unified English and French thrones. William had, after all, united the two when he won the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

In coming to this conclusion, the committee had rejected several other proposals. Some of those put forward had carried too much detail to be visible at a distance. Others had focused on green, Guernsey’s traditional colour, but this was felt inappropriate.

The new flag needed a Royal Warrant before it could be flown, which the Queen granted on 15 February 1985. It was officially adopted on 30 April, and flown for the first time on 9 May, the 40th anniversary of Guernsey’s liberation.


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