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St Piran's flag should fly again with flags of other UK nations

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: June 22, 2012

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NO ONE knows how long the Cornish flag has been in existence. It was first documented in 1838 by Davies Gilbert (1767-1839) in his Parochial History Of Cornwall, which included information from the earlier writings of historians William Hals and Thomas Tonkin.

Writing about the parish of Perranzabuloe, Gilbert stated: "A white cross on a black ground was formerly the banner of St Piran and the Standard of Cornwall."

St Piran, who according to legend floated from Ireland to Cornwall on a millstone, is also known as the patron saint of tinners.

It is often claimed that the white cross and black background of his flag represents the white tin that can be derived from black tin ore. It is also reputed that the white on black represents the victory of good over evil.

Over the last century or so, the national flag of Cornwall has become ever more popular and visible in all aspects of Cornish life.

And last month, St Piran's flag appeared at the heart of celebrations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on the newly constructed royal barge Gloriana, which led the large flotilla traversing the Thames.

It was good to see the banner of the historic nation of Cornwall on the Gloriana, flown alongside the flags of the other constituent nations of the UK.

People in the duchy clearly welcomed this appearance of the Cornish flag, and that its inclusion had been sanctioned by some high authority.

Many also considered that it represented a long-overdue recognition of Cornwall's nationhood and its distinct constitutional position.

It has since been reported in the local press that many of the craftsmen who worked on the construction of the barge were Cornish and this was the reason that Lord Sterling, the driving force behind the project, permitted the flag to be flown from the Gloriana.

But it has disappointed me that so many people were nonplussed to see the flag flown in such a prominent manner and considered the whole thing to be a mystery, while the explanations meant that the episode was "innocent" and "not anything constitutional".

I see it differently. It remains my view that Cornwall is one of the historic nations that make up the UK and it should be the norm, not the exception, to see our flag flown alongside those of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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