The Flag of Angus

The above is a county flag of Angus, formerly Forfarshire, on the east coast of Scotland, photographed on Kirriemuir Library. It is a banner of the county council's coat of arms, incorporating the arms of the four families who held the ancient Earldom of Angus: (left to right, top to bottom) the Gillebrides, the D'Umfravilles, the Stewarts and the Douglases.

The flag now flies on a number of significant county buildings across Angus. This was, however, a politically controversial move: the Scottish Nationalists in the county council opposed the move of the Angus Alliance, a cross party coalition which forms a majority, to depoliticise flag flying (Union Jack vs Saltire). As a compromise, second flagpoles were erected at these sites to fly the Scottish saltire, rather defeating the purpose of the exercise. Still, the flag remains a distinctive and aesthetically pleasing symbol of the county and, unlike most similar emblems, is often seen on display.

The flag is heraldicly flawed: the bend (diagonal stripe) in the third quarter should be corner-to-corner, rather than nestled in the top-right corner. This was despite advice sent to the council; although thankfully a fourth star which was added by an unqualified designer and displayed in preliminary proposals was removed by the flag manufacturer. As with many official county banners, the local council is rather possessive over its flag and will not allow its use by any body or person other than Angus Council itself.

It would seem unfortunate that the depoliticisation of flag flying in Angus has been, broadly, a failure. It would also seem inconsistent for the SNP to propose flying one national flag (the saltire) alongside the county flag, but not the other (ie, the Union Jack). Indeed, the latter flag - before 2007 - flew only on Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) and on 'certain Royal events'. By local authority standards, this is mean: most at least ensure the Union flag is flown on the national days specified by the UK Government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It is unclear what the current policy now is, although peculiarly the Angus flag is to be pulled down and the saltire is to fly alone on St Andrew's Day.

This settlement inherently gives the saltire the considerably more privileged status, which seems unwarranted from buildings of a county council. It would seem more consistent to fly the Angus flag alone generally, and to only hoist other flags for specific events, such as the Union Jack on the Queen's Birthday, the Saltire on St Andrew's Day and the EU flag on Europe Day. Alas, that seems rather too sensible for Scottish councils. Even at the level of the Scottish Executive, the standard remains firmly doubled: the Union Jack flies alongside the saltire on the DCMS days, whilst the saltire flies daily.
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