Big Flags In the United Kingdom

Painted Union Jack at Venture Quay's hangar

A large painted Union Flag which had first graced the hangar doors at Venture Quay’s hangar or the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, was freshened up for the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 London Olympics.

Corresponding with Michael Faul, the noted British flag scholar, I told him of the large flags made by Colonial Flag Company, but he at first did not agree that a flag too large to fly on a pole would qualify as a real flag.

Despite my best arguments, he remained unconvinced until he watched a video clip of the U.S. flags which the National Football League displayed at each of their football games played on Sunday the 11th of September in 2011, the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.  At 150 feet by 300 feet, these flags presented an awe-inspiring sight as they stretched out to cover the entire playing fields.  The players, officials and volunteers who held these gigantic flags out horizontally over the playing turf clearly recognized each as a real flag, and the cheering crowds made it clear that the fans in the stadiums did too.  Seeing the obvious impact of these flags, Michael Faul agreed that they were true flags in that they filled the traditional role of flags.  He was impressed that the six huge flags displayed at the NFL games that day were each made in Sandy, Utah by Colonial Flag Company and then he noted:

Although mega-flags seem to be a feature in the United States, they have never been popular in Britain.  Even the largest British flags are quite small when compared with flags, which in America, are almost the customary thing.

Indeed, as I recently searched the internet for big British flags, I found very little about large flags.  Some claimants to be the “largest Union Jacks in the world,” were not what even I or Michael Faul would describe as real flags.

One was the image of the Union Flag painted on an airport hangar door.  It was beautiful and impressive, but a real flag?  Nope, it was a picture of a flag.  Another pretender was made up of piles of red white and blue recycled clothing arranged on a grassy field to have the appearance of the British Union Flag.  Volunteers arranged 2,100 items of donated clothing to produce a likeness of the Union Jack measuring 33 feet by 66 feet.  A news report called it a media stunt masquerading as a flag. Although it was certainly well intentioned, it was not a flag.

There is an “immense” flag flown at Windsor Castle that, measuring 19 feet by 38 feet, is certainly impressive and beautiful.  A Royal Standard rather than a Union Flag, it is the flag flown on holidays and special occasions when the Queen is in residence at Windsor.  Certainly large by British Standard, this flag is about the same size as Garrison Flags (20 feet by 38 feet) that are flown at U.S. military installations on holidays.

Big Circus Union Jack

In Celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Gerry Cottle’s Circus displayed a huge Union Flag at their performances.

One large British flag, a Union Flag, was displayed by Gerry Cottle’s Circus which performed at the Branksome Recreation Ground in May of 2012.  Yes, the biggest Union Flag I could find online was at a circus.  At a reported size of 33 by 40 feet it was an impressive touch in the center ring.  Nevertheless, the flag flown daily at Colonial Flag’s headquarters and showroom is larger and measures 30 feet by 60 feet.

While the flag at Gerry Cottle’s Circus is impressive, Colonial’s large flag, flying on a 120 foot pole, has become an area landmark.  A sight so impressive that Colonial Flag Company’s neighbor to the immediate south wanted one too.  So Colonial’s big flag has a twin and both flags were made on site in Sandy, Utah.

Michael Faul compared the British flag custom with the big flag tradition in America, but the United States is not alone in North America.  Canada and Mexico share the continent with the U.S. and each has a story of big flags, big enough to match a big continent.  This posting tells their stories.

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