Notwithstanding the title of this entry, we of course have a flag for England – the Cross of St George. Unfortunately, this symbol has been high-jacked by certain ultra-right extremist groups of various titles over the years and this has made some people nervous about using the flag, but it’s high time the decent and right minded people of England claimed it back and took every opportunity to display it with pride.
An article in today’s Sunday Telegraph had a rather unfortunate opening sentence for me. Apparently the English flag was what gave England an identity during the Crusades. What little I know about the Crusades – a gang of religious zealots, lead by the king of the time, leg it off to a foreign land to pick a fight with the locals – means that it’s not a story that makes me proud to be English.
However, back to the present day and the need to take back ownership of the Cross Of St George as the national flag of England. If an English athlete, running for Britain in this or that international competition – there seems to be so many these days, (I think there’s another one happening in London sometime soon, but I can’t remember what it’s called!) – wants to don a flag to mark their win, should it be the English flag, or should it be the Union Flag?
Welsh and Scottish athletes don’t seem to have any difficulty rejecting their Britishness when the spotlight is on them. They celebrate their victory by draping their respective flags over their shoulders and jogging off around the stadium, grinning with pride and waving at the crowd. No doubt there be a number of non-Brits (and probably a few less bright Britons) who will confused by a race winner who, according to the race programme, started the race as British, but who is now running a victory lap with a colourful, but unrecognisable cloak draped over their shoulders!
So, if English born athletes were to adopt this practice, they would have to be prepared for some confusion over their national identity. So what? I say, as long we English know what it means, the rest of the world will catch on eventually.