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Alderney, Channel Islands

Bailiwick of Guernsey

Last modified: 2019-08-06 by rob raeside
Keywords: alderney | guernsey |
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[Alderney] image by Martin Grieve, 5 February 2008


See also:


Description of the flag

Alderney is the third largest of the Channel Islands, which is a British Crown Dependency lying in the English Channel close to the coast of Normandy. It is the third largest island in the group, covering an area of 8 square kilometres, and lies some ten miles to the northeast of Jersey and Guernsey. With the exception of small uninhabited islets, it is the northernmost and easternmost of the Channel Islands.

Alderney has a population of 2400, most of whom live in the main settlement of St. Anne. The island is self-governing part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The island's legislature is the States of Alderney, consisting of a President and ten States members. The States of Alderney send two People's Deputies to the States of Deliberation, the legislature of Guernsey.
James Dignan, 5 February 2008

The flag is white with a St George Cross and the badge of the island in the middle.
Pascal Vagnat, 14 March 1996

The badge is a green disc bearing a crowned gold lion rampant holding a sprig of leaves. The badge has a sort of scrolled border, in gold.
Roy Stilling, 14 March 1996

According to "Portrait of the Channel Islands" by Raoul Lemprière, 1970, "Alderney's flag was approved by Edward VII in 1906. It is the same as Guernsey's except that it had the arms of Alderney at its centre."
Jarig Bakker, 27 October 2005

Whilst this is the standard adoption date and information given for the flag of Alderney, it seems there is reason to modify the section stating the flag was approved by the King in 1906. What seems to have been the case, is that authorities in the Channel Islands believed royal authorization had been given for flags of the islands, but that actually the intention was to give authorization only for the badges in the flags of the lieutenant-governors. There is a detailed discussion of this question in:
Guernsey Flag Investigation Committee: "Symbols of Guernsey", The Flag Bulletin, XXIX:2 / 134, 1990, pp 54-78:

From 1905 to 1907 there was considerable correspondence between the bailiff, the lieutenant-governor, and the Home Office about the flags and arms used by Guernsey and Alderney and there was some public debate at the time. This correspondence largely paralleled that published in 1907 in Jersey, although the latter includes correspondence about the design of a flag to be worn by the States of Jersey vessel Duke of Normandy. In the Jersey correspondence, the question of the flag of the States' vessel became confused with separate questions relating to the proposed illustration of Guernsey and Jersey in a revision of the Admiralty's Flags of All Nations book and the exact nature of the Guernsey and Jersey arms. The outcome was that the lieutenant-governors of Guernsey and Jersey wrote to the respective bailiffs in January 1907 implying that the Guernsey, Alderney, and Jersey flags had been sanctioned by the king. In fact the continued use of the arms had been sanctioned, not the flags. It seems possible that the flags rather than the arms were intended to be sanctioned, as reference was made to the proposed revision of the Admiralty flag book.

The confusion may have been the result of the practice to deface the Blue Ensign with a "badge" denoting a dominion. However, examination of the Admiralty flag books of the late 19th and early 20th centuries shows that it was more probable that the Admiralty was asking about a badge used for defacing the Union Jack for use in the lieutenant-governor's flag, rather than the flag for use on the island generally. The Admiralty flag books show no Guernsey or Jersey flags but rather the shields of the two islands (Guernsey's with a yellow sprig) on roundels as defacements of the Union Jack. The bailiffs of both islands certainly interpreted the lieutenant-governors' letters as meaning that the king had sanctioned the flags and in Guernsey the relevant correspondence was registered in the records of the island."
The same source mentions that for Guernsey, the legal situation was clarified in 1936 when the king sanctioned the "continued use of a flag bearing the St. George's Cross on white ground".

It would seem that the Alderney flag did indeed come about by a misunderstanding in 1906/1907 that eventually by "custom and practice" became law. I have a suspicion though, that the Queen may have authorized the flag through a grant of arms and flag. The reason I suspect this is that Wikipedia gives "December 20, 1993" as the adoption date for the flag, and Michel Lupant indicated a 1993 sanction for the Alderney arms in "The emblems of the States of Alderney", in Roberto Breschi and Alessandro Martinelli (eds): Su emblemi e vessilli: Raccolta di scritti in onore di Aldo Ziggioto, 2002, s. 9-13. May this have been the same date as for the new grant of the arms?
Jan Oskar Engene
, 6 February 2008

A British land flag does not need a warrant or formal approval. The misunderstanding arose when the Colonial Office encouraged colonies to apply to the College of Arms for a grant of Arms. The Home Office suggested that Jersey and Guernsey should do the same. Both replied that they had no need to as they had Arms created before the College of Arms had been incorporated. The College asserted that that was irrelevant and they still needed to be granted Arms by them. The dispute was settled by the King who approved continued use of the Arms "as previously granted". Unfortunately in the reference he included Alderney which had never been granted Arms. It was the emblem on the flag that was (unintentionally ?) approved, not the flag itself.
David Prothero, 7 February 2008

Quoting from "Flags of the World" (1978 edn.) by E.M.C. Barraclough:
"The island of Alderney, which is one of these dependencies, has a local flag which is the same as that of Guernsey and of England, but with a green disc charged with a gold lion holding a sprig of leaves, and with gold curlicues around the disc. All these features were taken from the seal adopted in 1745. The flag was approved by Edward VII in 1906, for use on land only.

Of course, this was written in 1978 and Guernsey's flag has since been altered. It would also appear that the badge defacement described has also been changed, most notably in the general artwork and particularly on the crown which has now been changed from red to a more contemporary design and in multiple colours.
Martin Grieve, 5 February 2008

I have today heard from the office of the President of the States of Alderney with regard to the flag, and can confirm that the island flag itself has not been warranted, however, the arms were originally granted by the King in 1906, but were never registered with the College of Arms (as we know). This situation was amended as follows:

"Her Majesty was then petitioned to confirm the grant by her great grandfather and she was pleased so to do in 1993. Again no Warrant was required and on 20th December 1993 the arms were duly registered with HM College of Arms and the Coat of Arms were forwarded to the then Lieutenant Governor [of the Bailiwick of Guernsey] under cover of a formal latter dated 5th January 1994. The Arms, painted on Vellum are officially described as Vert, a lion rampant imperially crowned, or, holding in its dexter paw a sprig of broom proper."

The office description confirms the sprig in the Lions paw as an heraldic representation of Broom, the Planta genista of the Plantagenet Kings.
Christopher Southworth, 11 February 2008

Subsequent communication with the President's Office yielded the following summary:

From the President's Office

Thank you for your interest in the flag of Alderney.

The Arms of Alderney were confirmed by H M King Edward VII in 1902 (the Arms having been used since 1745 as a Seal granted by the Privy Council.)

There was no Warrant as such authorising the Alderney coat of arms. Papers on the Home Office file from 1906 record that a submission put to the king by the then Home Secretary seeking His Majesty's approval to the continued use of the Guernsey and Alderney arms was sanctioned.

The Lieutenant-Governor of Guernsey of that day was so informed, but unfortunately, instead of transmitting such confirmation of the grant to the College of Arms, he simply filed the letter. If a copy was ever received in Alderney it would have vanished, with the rest of the islands archives, during the Second World War occupation.

In the early 1990s some research was done on the origin of our Arms and the situation was discovered. Her Majesty was then petitioned to confirm the grant by her great-grandfather and she was pleased to do so in 1993. Again no Warrant was required and on the 20th December 1993 the arms were duly registered with HM College of Arms and the Coat of Arms was forwarded to the then Lieutenant Governor under cover of a formal letter dated 5th January 1994.

The Arms, painted on Vellum are officially described as:
"Vert, a lion rampant imperially crowned, or, holding in its dexter paw a sprig of broom proper."

The office description confirms the sprig in the Lion's paw as a heraldic representation of broom, the Planta genista of the Plantagenet Kings."

From the issue of Warrant:
"By virtue of the power and authority vested in him under Section 2(3) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and of all other powers and authorities him thereunto enabling, the Secretary of State for Defence hereby warrants and authorises the Blue Ensign of Her Majesty, defaced with the coat of arms of the States of Alderney in the fly, to be worn on vessels owned, chartered or hired by the States of Alderney.
15 August 2007
Roman Klimes, 28 May 2015

3:5 version

[Alderney] image by Martin Grieve, 5 February 2008

It is a matter of conjecture as to what the overall dimensions of the Alderney flag should be - 1:2 or 3:5? Most probably both are manufactured but most books I have consulted favour 1:2. Christopher Southworth states that:
"Everybody is however, agreed on a Cross of St George one-fifth of flag width wide, and the badge has increased in size from about 40% to the current diameter of just over one-half. Without a copy (or the text) of any establishing Warrant - and assuming that any such Warrant contained either an illustration or written details which is unlikely given that we are dealing with 1906 - the proportions of the flag of Alderney are, in essence, set by its illustration in BR20 just as the details of its design certainly are. My guess is that 1:2 is the safer bet".
Martin Grieve, 5 February 2008


Blue ensign

[Alderney blue ensign] image provided by Roman Klimes, 28 May 2015

The blue ensign was reported to me by David Prothero, who supplied a scan from Flagmaster. Introduced in 2007 with the badge height approx. 2/3 ensign width.
Martin Grieve, 7 February 2008

I asked for more information from authorities in Alderney and was fortunate enough to be supplied with a copy of the Warrant by the Secretary to the President of the States of Alderney. The Warrant, under the date 15 August 2007 and signed by the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Defence, states:

By virtue of the power and authority vested in him under Section 2(3) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and all other powers and authorities him thereunto enabling, the Secretary of State for Defence hereby warrants and authorises the Blue Ensign of Her majesty, defaced with the coat of arms of the States of Alderney in the fly, to be worn on vessels owned, chartered or hired by the States of Alderney. This warrant supersedes any previously  issued warrant for the States of Alderney and shall at all times be revocable at the discretion of the Secretary of  State."
I was also informed that the lion for the blue ensign is drawn in a different style from that traditionally used in the arms and flag of Alderney. Something corresponding to this image.
Jan Oskar Engene, 7 February 2008

The badge was authorized in 1906 but a Blue Ensign defaced by this badge was granted by MoD Warrant dated 15 August 2007, and I have not been able to discover any of an earlier grant (either by His/Her Majesty or by the Admiralty). Also (at least as far as I can discover) no defaced Red Ensign has so far been granted to the island, although the matter is under present discussion.
Christopher Southworth, 8 January 2011


An Alderney "non-flag"

Sorry to bother you with a mundane question, but I've exhausted other sources. I have a 3" x 6" flag which I received a few years ago when I ordered the flag of Guernsey and it has the word Guernsey 3 " 6 printed on the fly. It is the Cross of St. George on a white background with a green circle. Around the edge of the green circle is a golden chain encircling a shield with three heraldic lions on the shield. A sprig of leaves extend from the top of the shield. This is not the present flag of Guernsey and I was told by two sources that it is the flag of Alderney. It isn't the present flag of Alderney which has but one lion. Do you have any idea what it might be?
T. Pope, 7 October 2003

This flag appears to contain a number of elements from the flag of Alderney (which is after all a dependency of Guernsey): the proportions of 1:2, the Cross of St George, the green disk bordered by an ornamental yellow border and the sprig of leaves, while the only real difference seems to be the number of lions?

Three lions passant, guardant, or - the royal arms of England - were granted to Jersey in 1290, but I have no idea what the arms of Jersey are doing on a St George rather than a saltire, and on a flag marked "Guernsey"?

It strikes me as possible therefore, that this example is either an incorrect flag of Alderney, or somebody's idea of a patriotic design (a glance through some manufacturer's catalogues will yield a surprising - if not shocking - number of equally unlikely combinations).
Christopher Southworth, 7 October 2003

Old Guernsey (pre-decimal) coins carried a shield with three lions and a sprig of some form of vegetation above the shield. My guess is that someone has come across this old Guernsey emblem and combined it with the Alderney flag.
James Dignan, 7 October 2003

I concur that it's a "non-flag", but just to clarify, the three lions passant guardant, which Christopher rightly stated are the arms of England and of Jersey, are also the arms of Guernsey when differenced by the sprig of leaves. It is generally believed that the leaves were an early printing/copying error - or perhaps just an accidental blob of ink which evolved into the sprig. In any case, the result is a useful way of distinguishing between Guernsey's and Jersey's arms. The arms are not derived from or associated with Jersey's except insofar as they both derive from England's. They are not an old (in the sense of disused) emblem. See www.gov.gg for the use of the arms together with the (correct) flag.
André Coutanche, 7 October 2003


 
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