Freedom to fly flags

Mr Pickles unveiling his proposals at the Flag Institute
Spring Meeting in 2011

The following press release is the official Flag Institute response to the announcement by the Department for Communities and Local Government on the relaxation of UK flag regulations on 20 September 2012:


The United Kingdom is Unique

The UK is perhaps unique among modern democracies for its relative lack of flag-related laws. What is even more unusual is that those few regulations which do exist have often seemed designed to stop ordinary people from flying flags.

Stories such as these…

Essex landlord forced by council to remove gay pride flags from pub

Seven-year-old boy told he cannot fly pirate flag in garden

Hero in a flap over flag ban

…have been commonplace in the British press as frustrated flag fans have fallen foul of outdated and poorly thought-through regulations.

The Flag Institute therefore welcomes today’s relaxation of flag flying regulations. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’ announcement fits perfectly with the nation’s mood, following on as it does from the Diamond Jubilee and the most remarkable Olympics of the modern era.

The Flag Institute: The UK’s National Vexillological Organization

However the plan was born more than a year ago in 2011 when Mr Pickles announced his flag review during a keynote speech to the Flag Institute Spring Meeting.

In a passionate and well received speech Mr Pickles told delegates and flag experts from around the world that “the UK is very lucky in having – in the Institute – a group of dedicated and informed people who do a great deal to make sure that that respect is given [to flags]”. He went on to express the hope that his department would have ‘the chance of continuing to talk with [the Institute] over the months to come” in order to turn his flag regulation plans into a reality.

Working Together

A team of the UK’s top flag experts led by Flag Institute CEO Charles Ashburner has since worked closely with Mr Pickles’ team at the Department of Communities and Local Government, devoting many hundreds of hours free of charge to the nation’s flag cause.

President of the Flag Institute, Malcolm Farrow, said:

I congratulate the Secretary of State for resolving a long standing problem about flying flags in our country and am delighted that the new flag flying regulations have been published. I am extremely proud of the way in which the Flag Institute has helped in this process. This is a very good development indeed.”

What Are The Important Changes?

Graham Bartram, the UK‘s Chief Vexillologist said:

I welcome these changes which will give people greater freedom to fly the flags they want, without the need to apply for planning permission.
From now on we can fly the flags of any island, county, district, borough, burgh, parish, city, town or village of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies, the British Overseas Territories and the various flags of the Armed Forces. At long last sports supporters can fly the flag of their favourite team without being threatened with a fine. The changes also include measures that make it easier to install flagpoles on or next to a building, with appropriate safeguards for conservation zones and other places of special interest.
Hopefully the next few years will see more flags flying in our communities, adding colour and movement to the built environment.”

Freedom To Fly Flags

Charles Ashburner, Chief Executive of the Flag Institute said:

Flags are important to all UK societies and social groups. They are emotive symbols of unity, sport, protest, and patriotism. In our super fast world of instant news and ever changing technology flags remain the ultimate symbol of identity. I therefore welcome Mr Pickles’ changes as the most significant shake-up of flag regulations in a generation.
The relaxation of flag flying regulations is something which everyone who believes in freedom of expression should support. This really is a new Freedom to Fly Flags.”

The Flag Institute is a thriving membership-based flag organization – the largest in the world, with members on all six continents – and the national vexillological organization of the United Kingdom.

The Flag Institute provides advice and assistance to many organizations including the MoD, DCMS, DCLG, FCO, BBC, ITN, Statesman‘s Yearbook, Jane‘s Fighting Ships, Reader‘s Digest and many publishers, museums and libraries.


2 Responses to Freedom to fly flags

  1. Terry White 30 August 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Has anyone informed Northumberland County Council of these changes? They fly flags and pennants all over the CPU to but stop private individuals putting up flag poles and flying the national flag and Union Flag. I intend to ignor them and put up my new flag pole and if necessary make my point in court, quoting Mr Pickles. I think that the local media might also be on my side on this matter. Yours faithfully

  2. James YOUNG 24 September 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Very Interesting, & very welcome. Having travelled the world (RN bunting) Britain is perhaps, the only country where we do not fly our flag with pride on every street corner!
    Especially when it comes to national pride, England V Scotland etc, and we are told we are inciting a riot.
    Nice to know – keep up the good work.