What is King Charles III’s Standard Flag?
After the sad passing of HM The Queen last year, many of us have been confused about the various changes and protocols - afterall, most of us have never witnessed a change in Monarchs. This confusion extends to royal flags associated with King Charles III; what they are, when they’re used, and who can use them. In this blog, we aim to clear things up and provide you with all of the necessary information about royal flags and King Charles’ upcoming coronation.
So, what is King Charles III’s standard flag? King Charles III has two main flags; the Royal Standard and his personal cypher. The Royal Standard is used to show the King’s presence at home, whilst travelling and on official duties. It can only be used with his approval.
Read on to learn more about the royal flags associated with King Charles III and for information regarding his coronation on May 6th 2023.
What is King Charles III’s Royal Flag?
There are two main royal flags in relation to King Charles III; King Charles’ cypher flag and the Royal Standard flag. Each flag also has a Scottish version which has slight variations on their English counterparts.
King Charles’ Cypher
King Charles III’s cypher flag isn’t only a flag, it’s his monogram, consisting of the initials of his name, Charles, and title, Rex (Latin for King), alongside a representation of the Crown.
Although it will appear on flags, it will largely be used on Government buildings, State documents, the buttons and insignia of the Armed Forces, to mark property and other royal objects associated with his reign, to frank mail and it will also appear on post boxes as new ones are introduced or existing ones are replaced.
It is at the discretion of each individual organisation to replace Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cypher with King Charles’ royal cypher. It will be a gradual process which means we may not begin to see this monogram widely used for some time.
The cypher was designed by The College of Arms. Founded in 1484, the College of Arms has jurisdiction over the heraldic matters of England, Wales, Northern Ireland.
The Royal Standard
The Royal Standard is also known as a banner of arms in the UK, as it depicts the shield of the Royal Arms. The flag represents the monarch and is flown when King Charles is in residence at one of the royal palaces, on transport during official duties, on any building, official or private, during a visit by The King (if the owner requests). When the King visits Parliament, the Royal standard is flown from Victoria Tower.
Unlike the Union Flag, the Royal Standard is never flown at half-mast, even after the death of a monarch, as there is always a Sovereign on the throne.
What Does the Royal Standard Flag Represent?
Since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the Royal Standard flag has taken various forms, however, today's flag features four quadrants representing England (three lions), Scotland (a lion rampant) and Ireland (a harp). Wales is not represented as its position as a Principality was recognised by the creation of the Prince of Wales before Scotland and Ireland were included in the design.
A slightly different design is used in Scotland with the Scottish Arms in the first and fourth quadrants and the English Arms in the second. Further to this, other variations of the Royal Standard exist to represent various members of the Royal Family. In each case, the standard flag is “defaced” with a three or five-point label, some of which include other symbols such as the Scottish thistle, an anchor or the English flag.
Who Can Fly the Royal Standard Flag?
The Royal Standard is the personal royal flag of the Sovereign and cannot be flown without their permission, which can only be granted when they are at the location in question.
Generally, the Royal Standard is flown when the Monarch is in residence, on transport when travelling on official duties, on the premises of a building when on official duties, or when the Monarch is at Parliament. It should not be flown unofficially.
The Union flag or the royal cypher may be flown by anyone.
Royal Flags at King Charles III’s Coronation
At the time of writing, the details of King Charles’ coronation (known as Operation Golden Orb) have not yet been released, however, it is expect that the following flags, monograms and other royal insignia will be used in some capacity:
- King Charles III cypher
- The Royal Standard Flag
- The Union flag
- Coat of Arms
What Will Happen at the Coronation?
UK coronations have remained largely unchanged for more than 1000 years and is the only remaining event of its type in Europe. Whilst details of King Charles III’s coronation are kept under wraps, Buckingham Palace have confirmed that the ceremony will be "rooted in long-standing traditions", but will also "reflect the monarch's role today and look towards the future".
As such, it is likely to be shorter and smaller in scale than previous coronations and may represent a wider range of religions in line with modern British culture.
King Charles and the Queen Consort are expected to travel to Westminster Abbey in the King’s procession and return to Buckingham Palace in a larger coronation procession, where they will be met with other members of the Royal Family. The various stages to the coronation are:
- The Recognition - whilst standing beside the coronation chair, the Monarch is presented to those gathered. The congregation then shouts “God save the King! And trumpets sound.
- The Oath - The Monarch swears to uphold the law and Church of England
- The Anointing - The King’s ceremonial robe is removed before he sits in the coronation chair. A gold cloth is held over the chair to conceal the King from view whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints the King’s hands, breast, and head with holy oil.
- The Investiture - The Monarch is presented with items including the Royal Orb, the Sceptre and a rod of gold topped with a white enamelled dove before the Archbishop of Canterbury places St Edward's Crown on the King's head
- The Enthronement and Homage - The King leaves the coronation chair and moves to the throne. Peers will kneel before the King to pay Homage
- The Queen Consort will then be anointed in the same way and crowned
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