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Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Last modified: 2012-01-21 by rob raeside
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[Supreme Court of the United Kingdom] image by Graham Bartram, 11 August 2010

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Flag Use

Quote from 'History' section at

"1 October 2009 marks a defining moment in the constitutional history of the United Kingdom: transferring judicial authority away from the House of Lords, and creating a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom in the historic setting of the former Middlesex Guildhall on Parliament Square."

"... its new emblem combines national symbols of the four nations of the UK, and the Greek letter Omega, symbolising finality." (see

From 'Corporate Information' (left menu), subsection "Policy on Flag Flying":
"As the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, we routinely fly the Union Flag each day.
During the run-up to the Opening of the Supreme Court, the British Flag Institute recommended that a flag specifically for the Supreme Court be created. This flag will be flown, below the Union Flag, each day on which the Supreme Court is either sitting or delivering a judgment.

The following flags will be flown in addition to the Union Flag taking precedence over the Supreme Court flag:

Description of the UKSC emblem from

The Supreme Court's official emblem was designed by Yvonne Holton, Herald Painter at the Court of Lord Lyon in Scotland. It uses traditional symbolism, yet is delicate and modern at the same time. The emblem combines four heraldic elements, equally represented in the design, reflecting the jurisdictions within the United Kingdom:
  • England: a symmetrical five-petalled wild rose, with stalk and leaves, an English symbol since the Tudor dynasty
  • Wales: the green leaves of a leek, deriving from the medieval legend that St. David ordered his Welsh soldiers to wear leeks on their helmets during a battleagainst the Saxons
  • Scotland: a purple thistle, associated with the tradition that an early Scottish army was saved when barefooted Viking invaders stepped on prickly thistles in the dark, crying out in pain and waking the defenders
  • Northern Ireland: a light blue five-petalled flax flower, representing the linen-weaving industry which was so valuable that nineteenth century Belfast was known as 'Linenopolis'
These four national elements are embraced by an almost-circular frame representing both Libra, the scales of justice, and Omega, symbolising the final source of justice for the United Kingdom. At its most formal level, the Royal Crown surmounts the emblem, as the Monarch is the source of The Supreme Court's authority.
Jan Mertens, 22 May 2010

A number of other design suggestions (well worth a look) were made when the Court consulted Graham Bartram, Chief Vexillologist of the Flag Institute. Other designs were again considered/a>, which seem to centre around the images of an oak tree and a sword (presumably '...of justice'). The use of the emblem, as with most modern corporate identities, is subject to a rather large bundle of guidelines.. The Welsh leek is rather understated, appearing almost as a stem for the English rose: perhaps a subtle reflection on the lack of a Welsh legal jurisdiction within the UK. Also notable is the use of the flax flower to represent Northern Ireland rather than the traditional shamrock: this symbol seems to have originated when attempting to choose a neutral logo for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

An unusual practice surrounding the new flag is that it is to fly on a single pole, below the Union Jack. Whilst this is common in other countries such as the United States, it is very rarely seen in formal British practice - although according to the Flying Flags in the United Kingdom guide, a joint publication by the Flags Institute and the UK Parliament's Flags and Heraldry Committee, 'double flagging' is at least acceptable. On the relevant national days (e.g., St Andrew's Day for Scotland) the flags of England, Scotland or Wales will replace the Supreme Court flag below the Union Jack, as will the Middlesex Flag - which formerly flew over the building - on Middlesex Day (16 May) and the flag of the Middlesex Regiment on the Sunday before Remembrance Sunday.
David Gardiner's Blogspot (, 11 July 2010
located by Valentin Poposki, 11 August 2010