Thursday, 26 August 2010

Flag Etiquette

There are no international regulations governing flag etiquette. Some of the general guidelines are detailed below:

  • Display the flag only between sunrise and sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs. The flag may be displayed for twenty-four hours if illuminated in the darkness.
  • Do not display the flag in inclement weather.
  • Do not let the flag touch the ground.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • Before flying a flag at half, hoist to its peak for an instant before lowering it.
    • The flag needs to be positioned 1/3rd of the way down the pole not halfway. Similarly, when lowering the flag it should again be hoisted to the top of the flagpole then reverently lowered to the ground.
  • If more than one flag is flown they should all be raised at half-mast or not flown at all. Flags of foreign nations should not be flown unless their country is observing morning.
  • As a sign of mourning the flags on flagpoles should be flown at half mast. A black ribbon is attached to flags hoisted on shorter outrigger staffs, and a black cravat to military parade flags.
  • It is not good practice to fly two flags on the same halyard. This signifies the top flag has captured the lower flag.
  • The national flag should not be displayed in a position inferior to any other flag. It must be flown on the highest flagpole (senior flagpole).
  • If displaying more than one flag, the national flag of the country should be hoisted first and taken down last at the end of the day.
  • A guide to the order of precedence of more than one flag in the UK is as follows:
    • Union flag
    • Any other national flag
    • Flag of Europe
    • Flag of England/Scotland/Wales
    • Regional/City/Council/County flag
    • Corporate/House/Club/School/Organisation flag
  • When flown with other national flags, all flags should be flown on separate flag poles of the same height. The other national flags should be flown in alphabetical order according to the official language of the country.
  • When two flags are displayed the national flag should be on the left of the observer, facing the staff. If the National flag is crossed with another flag, its staff should be in front of the other flag.
  • When three flags are flown the national flag should be flown on the centre flagpole.
  • When four flags are flown the national flag should be on the observers left.
  • When five flags are flown or more a national flag should be placed at each end of the line.
  • In a semi circle arrangement of flagpoles the national flag should be in the centre.
  • In an enclosed circle, the national flag should be centred and flown immediately opposite the main entrance of the building, or if placed externally should be flown next to the entrance of the main building. The order of the flags should be clockwise in alphabetical order, either in official language of the country or in English.
  • A flag used as a coffin drape should be placed so that the hoist is at the head and top edge is over the left shoulder.
  • When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle, the canton should be placed at the peak of the staff.
  • When a flag is displayed from a staff on a speaker’s platform, it should be on the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
  • A flag carried in a procession should be free flying, if a national flag it should be the first in the procession. If carried in line with other flags it should placed on the right hand side facing the direction of movement. However, if it is carried with two or more flags it should be placed in the centre, or, two national flags should be placed at the end of the line.

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