To flag or not to flag

According to The Guardian newspaper, the British government has changed the policy on flying flags on royal birthdays, with local authorities no longer required to raise the Union Flag for Prince Andrew.

The Queen’s second son withdrew from public life and royal duties after a disastrous television interview defending his friendship with the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

After an email sent to local authorities reminding them to fly the British flag for Andrew’s 60th birthday on 19 February 2020 was leaked to the Sun, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said officials were considering how the policy applied ‘in changing circumstances, such as when members of the royal family step back from their duties’. The original email, sent by a civil servant in the local government ministry, was simply an ‘administrative email about long-standing policy’, claimed the spokesman, adding that discussions were under way between the ministry and the royal household about a change.

Labour MP Wes Streeting (Ilford North) commented that flying flags on government buildings in honour of Prince Andrew ‘would be wholly inappropriate’.

The government later said it would be advising councils ‘that there is no requirement to fly flags on 19 February following the decision by the Duke of York to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future’.