County flags star in Commons debate

Flags of the UK's historic counties fly in Parliament Square, 23 July 2021

Historic County Flags Day display, London, 23 July 2021. Credit: Leigh Wetherall

The county flags of England, Scotland and Wales starred in the House of Commons on Thursday 22 July.

To date 52 historic counties have entered a flag in the UK Flag Registry.

And to celebrate Historic County Flags Day on 23 July, the flags flew together in Parliament Square, London.

Among them were newcomers Herefordshire and Leicestershire – the last of the 39 historic English counties to register a flag.

Tom Randall MP (Conservative, Gedling) marked the occasion during the Commons Summer Adjournment Debate.

Tom is a past editor of Flagmaster and a vice chair of the All-Party Flags and Heraldry Group.

Read his speech in full below:

‘On a lighter note, I hope that before the House adjourns today we can celebrate the colourful display that we can currently see in Parliament Square. Tomorrow is Historic County Flags Day. It has been celebrated for some days now, with the flags of the historic counties of England, Scotland and Wales in Parliament Square. The flags on display span the nation and also time. We can see old flags such as the St Piran’s Cross of Cornwall and the Warenne Checks of Surrey, which dates from the 13th century, as well as some more modern designs.

Many of those modern designs are thanks to the work of charities such as the Association of British Counties and the Flag Institute. I declare an interest as a former editor of the Flag Institute’s magazine. People at that charity, such as Graham Bartram and Philip Tibbetts, have worked tirelessly to encourage community groups and individuals to design flags, with Philip Tibbetts in particular criss-crossing the country. I congratulate him on his recent appointment as honorary vexillologist to the Court of the Lord Lyon.

One very good example of a modern flag design is the flag of Nottinghamshire, which was designed following a competition organised by Andy Whittaker of BBC Radio Nottingham in 2011. I am pleased to see that a decade later Leicestershire has finally caught up, and as the vice-chair of the flags and heraldry all-party parliamentary group, I was pleased to be in Parliament Square this week to attend the first flag raising of the flag of Leicestershire there. However, Leicestershire does not yet have its own day. I am pleased that Nottinghamshire County Council has today voted unanimously for 25 August to be Nottinghamshire Day. I look forward to seeing the flag of Nottinghamshire flying across the county, in the Houses of Parliament and, I hope, also across the country.

Although we are forever one United Kingdom, as we leave this place I hope that we can admire the diversity of our country, return to our constituencies and see all the best that there is in our counties—and I believe that the best of our counties are embodied in our county flags.’

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