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Sri Lanka - previous ensigns

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ian macdonald
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Naval ensign

[Old naval ensign of Sri Lanka] by Željko Heimer

I have made a drawing of the Sri Lanka naval ensign, based on the listing in Jane's Fighting Ships. The naval ensign is the national flag set in the canton of a white field divided by a red St. George's cross. In Jane's the cross is bright red, not the dark red - almost brown - colour of the field upon which the golden lion is placed. However, some old flag books show the cross in the same dark-red colour. This would, in one way, be natural, as the number of colours is kept at a minimum. I do not know what shade of red is correct. In Smith's Flags through the Ages and across the World, the 'normal' Sri Lankan flag is given as the naval ensign.
Jan Oskar Engene, 3 October 1996

In 1972 the red St George's cross was removed, when Sri Lanka became a republic.
David Prothero, 4 November 1998

It is sometimes claimed that the St. George's Cross was removed from Sri Lankan ensigns because of Christian symbolism. As the man who campaigned for its renewal I can say that the assumption is incorrect. My basis for the campaign was that, while the St. George's Cross has a good historical reason to be on the RN ensign, it has no such reason to be our ensign. When the last Sri Lankan kingdom fell to the British, the British King became the King of Ceylon. When we became a Dominion in 1948, King George VI remained our sovereign, to be succeeded by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and I of Ceylon. In 1972, we ended the line of succession of kings of Ceylon from 543 BC, and became a Republic. So there was no justification at all for retaining the St. George's Cross. Even our Cap Badges, which had sported the Crown of the Kings of Ceylon, were changed: the Lion replacing the crown.
Lt.Cdr. Somasiri Devendra (retd.), 4 November 2005

Government ensign

[Old government ensign of Sri Lanka] by Željko Heimer

This was the Sri Lankan Government Service Ensign. I believe I saw it in Pedersen's book, but it could have been in an earlier book. I'm not quite sure what the Government Service Ensign could be when there is a blue ensign.
Calvin Paige Herring, 9 February 1998

I received on September 97 from the Sri Lankan Navy information on flags and marks (cf. correction 29 to Album des Pavillons). A blue ensign without anchors but with national flag in canton exists as ensign for merchant navy ships commanded by a reserve Navy officer. Other merchant ships just show a plain national flag as ensign. Warships show an undefaced white ensign (without red cross) with the national flag in the canton. Apparently there is no more such ensign as the one Calvin Paige shows.
Armand Noel du Payrat, 9 February 1998

Civil ensign

[Old civil ensign of Sri Lanka] by Željko Heimer

The Sri Lanka Civil Ensign showed a strong British influence as it was identical to the British ensign with the exception of the Sri Lankan Flag in the canton.

I believe my source for this flag was from Pedersen.

Calvin Paige Herring, 20 January 1998