Her Majesty's Government has instructed that to mark Armed Forces Week, Government buildings should fly the Armed Forces Flag from 08:00 on Monday 20 June until 20:00 on Saturday 25 June 2016.

Departmental buildings in London with more than one flagpole are also to fly the Rainbow Flag during this period to celebrate Pride Week. Where there is only one flagpole the Armed Forces Flag will in most cases take precedence. 

Please note that 21 June 2016 is a designated flag-flying day. If there is only one flagpole, the Union Flag should be flown. If there are two, the Union Flag should be flown on the senior pole.

Local authorities are not bound by these instructions but may wish to follow them for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

For information about Armed Forces Day flags and issues relating to the flying of flags more generally, please contact the Officer in Waiting at the College of Arms.

TeamGBpatent003Unveiled yesterday, the kit designed by Stella McCartney for Team GB at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio is centred on a coat of arms. This coat of arms, which is being granted both by the English kings of arms and by Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland for the use of the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations, combines symbolism for the Home Nations with references to the Olympics and Paralympics.

The initial procedural step leading to the creation of the coat of arms was a formal request to the Earl Marshal from HRH The Princess Royal, President of the BOA, and HRH the Earl of Wessex, Patron of the BPA. The resulting coat of arms was designed by Clive Cheesman, Richmond Herald at the College of Arms, in a process that began over eighteen months ago between the College, adidas UK, and the two grantee Associations.

The principal element on the shield is a unified group of the floral emblems of the four Home Nations. Two of each are shown and arranged so as to avoid ascribing primacy to any individual emblem. Four chain links hold them together at the centre; these links stand for the four years of the Olympic/Paralympic cycle, but their shape is also intended to recall that of an athletics track. This is the only reference in the design to a specific event or group of events, and is sanctioned by the central role of the main stadium in all Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The motto IUNCTI IN UNO (‘Conjoined in One’) makes reference to the union of the Home Nations within the UK, thereby picking up on the central idea of the shield. But it also alludes to the unity of the representatives of separate sports and, more significantly, of the Olympic and Paralympic teams within Team GB.

Harris Hawk3 compressedPeregrine Falcon and Harris Hawks: In March and April this year these birds, long popular in heraldic design, could be seen flying at the College of Arms, in the hope that their presence would deter birds such as seagulls from nesting on the chimneys. The presence of birds' nests can cause damage to the fabric of the historic building, as well as a nuisance to staff and members of the public. The sight of the birds of prey flying in the courtyard, controlled by the falconers, was enjoyed by those who work at the College.

As a mark of respect for those that have died and been injured in Brussels today 22 March 2016, the Prime Minister has asked that all Departments of Her Majesty's Government lower their Union Flag to half-mast from 2.05 p.m. this afternoon.

Any other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

Flags will be raised to full mast no earlier than 10 p.m. on Thursday 24 March but before 7 a.m. on Friday 25 March.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

Queen Mary I of England

19 February 2016

Queen Mary I – Mary Tudor – was born 500 years ago, on 18 February 1516. The eldest daughter of King Henry VIII, in 1553 she inherited the throne when her only brother, King Edward VI, died without children. Her inheritance was not a foregone conclusion, as King Henry's efforts to annul his marriage to her mother, Catherine of Aragon, had led to that marriage being declared invalid and therefore Mary herself illegitimate. Mary was also a Roman Catholic coming to the throne of a country whose links with Rome had been severed almost 20 years earlier, and whose previous ruler had been a devout Protestant. However, Mary was able to defeat the attempts of a Protestant faction to put a rival claimant on the throne and had that claimant, Lady Jane Grey, executed. Mary's resolve to return England to the Roman Catholic religion led to the deaths of hundreds of Protestants in her 5-year rule, and earned her the posthumous sobriquet 'Bloody Mary'. In the year after her accession to the throne she married Philip of Spain, and under the marriage settlement they became co-rulers.

1 M. 6bis f. 85r compressedQueen Mary was a benefactor of the College of Arms, in 1555 granting it a renewed Charter of Incorporation under which it still operates today. We see here the opening clauses of this charter. Also displayed here are images of manuscripts held in the College's archives relating to Mary's baptism, coronation and funeral, at all of which the Officers of Arms played a significant administrative and ceremonial role. Sixteenth-century paintings of her achievement of Arms are also shown; these were made during her father's lifetime, before the split from Rome and when she was still his sole heir. A contemporary painted pedigree roll sets out Queen Mary's descent from King Harold, the Anglo-Saxon king who was defeated by William the Conqueror, proving her ancient ancestral right to the throne.

This manuscript describes the Christening of the Princess Mary, on Wednesday 20th February 1516, two days after her birth. The volume in which it is found (MS M. 6bis) is an early 16th century compilation of accounts of ceremonial occasions, with many of the entries being in the hand of Sir Christopher Barker, Garter King of Arms (d 1550).

By decision of the College of Arms all proceeds arising from the sale of The Armorial of Haiti will be donated to the international effort for the relief of Haiti
after the calamitous earthquake of 12 January 2010.

The College of Arms Newsletter is produced every three months and sent automatically and free to those who subscribe. Other benefits for those who submit their names in this way include advance notice of College of Arms events, relevant publications, and media appearances.

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