This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Report on the 27th International Congress of Vexillology

London, England

Last modified: 2019-05-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: international congress of vexillology | sydney |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

See also:

Daily Reports on the ICV

7 August - Day 1

The ICV is now well under way. After a brief chance to meet people at the registration desk and the opening get-together last night, the congress started this morning with the formal opening ceremony on the Queen’s Lawn at Imperial College. Malcolm Farrow of the Flag Institute welcomed us to London, assuring those who were seeing the sights that they might tire out, but would not tire of things to see. He (and a few others of the FI) impressed us with his knowledge of verse 2 of God Save the Queen – most of us did not know it had more verses! Michel Lupant, president of FIAV then formally welcomed us, but dodgy microphones and competition from aircraft overhead and trolleys closer by made it tough to catch all he said. However we did clearly hear the hammer hit the desk to declare the congress in session. The flags of the UK and the FI were first marched in to the national anthem, then the flags of FIAV and the Congress to the FIAV anthem. By then it was time for the first coffee break.
Our first speaker was Annie Platoff, who so far had spent most of her time trying to unload hundreds of flag badges she brought (would you like Soviet or non-Soviet; baby Lenin or older Lenin?) who presented on aspects of civil religion – looking at how flag culture is introduced to children, in the case of the USSR through the Young Octobrists, and the Young Pioneers. Of special importance to the children was the red neckerchief, equated to a piece of the national flag. However, many other symbols are also used – the red star, Red Square, poppies. In the Q&A she added more details about the use of Soviet era flags by both sides in the modern strife in Ukraine and in Transnistria.
Next was Tiago José Berg, who introduced a vexillological component to his high school geography course, making large paper versions of national and Brazilian state flags. Even complex items up to the level of the Austrian eagle were being prepared as cut-out appliqués and glued on. Following the conclusion of the exercise, inspired in part by the Rio Olympics, a vexillological club has continued to run.
Ted Kaye then discussed US city attempts to introduce or replace flags. In a very comprehensive report, he noted that following the American City Flags publication and survey, cities showed only minimal interest in improving their flags. Following the publication of Good Flag, Bad Flag, a little more interest was engendered, but not until the TED talk by Roman Mars in 2015 was there wholesale uptake in interest in flag change. He recognized four levels of interest – the Idea stage, Under way, Stalled, and Adopted, giving many examples of each. He showed 19 successful changes which we need to check for FOTW (Sunnyvale TX, Aberdeen WA, Liberty TX, Albany OR, Harrison OH, Janesville WI, Brandon SD, Bellingham WA, Elk Ridge UT, Bath ME, South Bend IN, Redding CA, Golden CO, Columbia MO, Orlando FL, Republic MO, West Hollywood CA, Provo UT, and Peoria AZ) and concluded with a substantial list of lessons learned, chief among which is that the political process is key. With over 100 slides(!) he gave a very polished presentation that kept everyone wide awake!
Our final morning speaker was Kevin Harrington, who discussed the various anniversaries being celebrated this year (50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 100th, 125, 150, etc.) although was curiously careful to limit his comments on the current celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Canada. His presentation was definitely eclectic, although he did suffer from losing his speaking notes, and having to wing it.
After a sandwich lunch, when Annie unloaded a few more pins, Christopher Maddish introduced us to his fanciful world of colour coding of flags. Take the 7 colours of the rainbow, add white, black and pink, and you have 10 colours – assign each one a number, then look for a numbered quantity and apply the digits to find the colours. Places could be identified by their latitude and longitude, their zip code or postal code, and once you have exhausted places, you can assign flags by this method to stars of constellations, mountains (use height), time zones, even the elements of the Periodic Table. Well over 100 slides again, and probably closer to 1000 proposed flags resulted, which left us all wondering what else he stores in his mind!
We were brought back to reality by Pierre-Jean Guionin, from SHOM, France (they who publish the Album des Pavillons). First the history of the Album, which has been published since 1819, and is now in its 10th edition (but printed only upon demand from a pdf file). SHOM needs to recoup costs of its products, so you too can acquire the Album for €60 from, which includes updates for a year following.
Victor Lomantsov (FOTW editor for central Asian republics and Mongolia and chair of the Russian Centre of Vexillology and Heraldry) then introduced us to the almost unknown world of trade union sport societies in the USSR. Although we show a few of these on FOTW (, Victor has uncovered up to 150, many of which were disbanded as early as the 1950s. Using historical photographs (many only black and white), diplomas, posters, postcards and pins, he has documented and reconstructed about 90% of these society flags – a truly amazing collection!
Our penultimate talk was by Sekhar Chakrabarti who discussed the transition from a political party flag to the national flag, a common theme in several African countries, but looking mostly at India, whose flag uses the colour scheme of later versions of the Indian National Congress flag, and the chakra (wheel) inspired by the charkha (spinning wheel) so beloved by Gandhi. Similarly, in Pakistan, the national flag derives from the flag of the All India Muslim League, by the addition of the white stripe. He wondered what happens when the popularity of the party wanes, but noted in India the flag has gone on to represent the nation and is no longer tied to the INC, even though the two flags are so similar. In questions he revealed that apart from Jammu and Kashmir, no Indian state has been permitted to adopt a state flag, although current efforts in Karnataka and Nagaland are heading in that direction.
Finally, John Cartledge gave a presentation full of the driest of British humour on the theme of Red for Danger, noting that 77% of national flags employ red, but that red in a flag (or sign, berry, insect) usually means Danger! He gave many examples of the use of red from military to meteorological, through sports events and red light districts. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination!
So ended the talks for the day, and we retired to the rooftop plaza of the Baden Powell Building, which is only on the second floor of a 6-story building (much confusion in a very small elevator!) to enjoy a champagne toast to the FIAV flag on its 50th anniversary, barbecued hamburgers or ribs, delicious salads and desserts only just rescued from dissolving in a shower of heavy rain. A good start to the congress! The event is running very well, suitably under the firm control of Graham Bartram, Ian Sumner, John Hall, Stan Zamyatin (who has put in a good few miles running up and down the hall with the microphone!) and Maggie Sumner who took the accompanying members on an interesting tour of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath today.
Rob Raeside, 7 August 2017

8 August - Day 2

It’s a cool and breezy morning in London. At the ICV we have one of those “heavy days” – lots of talks, lots of discussion, challenging to keep on schedule.
First up today was Ralph Bartlett from Melbourne – “Flags by King for Country”. That title had me puzzled until Ralph revealed that “King” was Bob King Crawford, a creator of community flags for many events over a long period in Melbourne, and later across Australia. Beginning with the Corroboree flag, but expanding out to many community festival flags in the 1980s and onward, then a proposal for a national flag, Bob has been a major contributor to the Melbourne scene for decades. Many of the flags are eye-catchingly amateur, but define a distinct style reflecting community involvement and fun. He also has designed street banners in Sydney, and a kangaroo proposal.
The second paper was by Rachel Phelan, a flag conservator at the national museum in Dublin, Ireland. In particular she described the painstaking work she has undertaken on the Irish Republic flag, where the paint is turning to dust. Using a gelatin consolidant, the team has been able to halt deterioration and restore some of the flag, and in the process had the opportunity to examine under the microscope holes (now firmly known to be bullet holes) and slashes (which she considers results from bayonet attempts to cut the flag down). In questions about flag display, Rachel was loudly cheered by the response, “I would have the whole National Museum full of flags!”
Roberto Breschi then related his search for a set of Italian municipal flags that he found listed in an un-illustrated catalogue from the 1860s that he acquired in a flea market. These flags were displayed in Florence during the celebrations of Dante’s birth in 1865. A painting is known showing some of them. The museum knows nothing about the listed flags, so a hunt for them began. They were known to be moved to the town hall in 1878 and transferred to a museum in 1908, but that museum was dismantled in 1938 and its collections dispersed. A few appeared later in a monastery, but most were thought lost in the great flood of the Arno in 1966. Subsequently around 100 flags were found with inventory numbers, but in an advanced state of decay – but the numbers correspond to the catalogue Roberto had acquired! Finally, a CISV member found a manuscript in the national library with beautiful colour reproductions of the flags (even with catalogue numbers!) These illustrations could now be identified by means of the catalogue and provide a fine snapshot of mid-19th Century Italian city flags before the trend to gonfalone.
After coffee break, Manuela Schmöger introduced us to a Wiki she has been compiling about municipal flags, mostly of Bavaria, so far, but intending to broaden. See it at She noted that began this effort, but is moribund. FOTW of course hosts thousands of German community flags (our largest single section), but is deemed awkward to work with. Wikipedia rejects this sort of contribution as it is “original research” and has no published source. Manuela emphasized that flags often vary from the idealized (FOTW-like) drawings – in the case of Bavarian flags, the arms usually remain intact but the flag colours may vary each time they are manufactured, so she has emphasized the collection of photographs of flags as well as drawings. Manuela is keen to invite participants to assist – Bruce Berry offered “boxes” of South African municipal flags – an underexplored area on FOTW also! Contact her to join (
Scot Guenter provided a more theoretical look at historical shifts and emergent paradigms in vexillology, exploring how the subject has evolved. He reflected on the influence of heraldry, and the importance of Whitney Smith and William Crampton who pioneered the subject. He also noted the increasing importance of graphic design in our society and the effect that has had on vexillography and vexillology. His talk inspired lots of questions, taking us well into overtime.
That left Alan Hardy as the only speaker left between us and lunch, but he did a fine job of proposing standard colours and ratios for flags. Being a car designer, he fits in well with the graphic designers, and provided a colour scheme emphasizing contrast to be applied to flags, concluding with an eye-popping 1000 squares on white for Finland.
Following lunch, Ralph Kelly described the Empire flag, having encountered one in a museum in South Australia which he attempted to date based on the style of the arms of Canada, Australia and South Africa included on it. Subsequently he encountered other examples, which he thinks date from 1919 to 1945. Why were these flags made? Was it for celebrations of special events like the British Empire Exhibition, the royal silver jubilee, the coronation of the king? Or were they simply used for public celebrations on Empire Day, begun in Canada in 1902, subsequently celebrated elsewhere?
Cédric de Fougerolle then gave a presentation on ex-libris bookplates, many of which feature flags also. He is an antiquarian dealer in France, and has collected a wide range of such plates, featuring patriotic, military, maritime or heraldic themes. Speaking in French he displayed many examples of such plates.
Next Ladislav Hnát from Czechia reviewed the many varieties of party flags used in the Eighth European Parliament, grouped by colour in this case. He focused on the 20 major parties that received at least 1% of the vote, but alluded to another 150 parties.
Pluethipol Prachumphol then presented a short review of the Thai flag, starting with the royal chakra symbol, adding the white elephant, then removing the chakra to make it a flag of the people. When the king saw a flag flying upside down, he decreed a simpler r-w-r-w-r flag be used by the people, and the white elephant flag be restricted to government purposes. Finally, and now 100 years ago, the blue stripe was added to match the flag of the allied nations following Thailand’s entrance in WW1. The presentation concluded with a videoclip of the raising of the largest flag – a giant Thai flag as big as 6 basketball courts and weighing 560 kg.
The final presentation was by the Slovenian Heraldic Society promoting their bid to host the ICV 29 in Ljubljana in 2021, with lots of promises of Slovenian hospitality.
Following the presentations, the General Assembly of FIAV convened. Although a bit stormy at times, the motions were approved as needed, and the assembly concluded with the threat to meet again San Antonio (2019) and Ljubljana (2021). A bid was placed by Chinese vexillologists to host the conference in 2023, but it is not yet at the voting stage.
Tomorrow we have an excursion to Royal Greenwich (of Prime Meridian fame), the Royal Observatory, and the Old Royal Naval College in the morning, and then the National Maritime Museum in the afternoon. More to come!
Rob Raeside, 8 August 2017

9 August - Day 3

The third day at the ICV is usually given over to a trip of some sort, and today we all journeyed to Greenwich, where we visited the Greenwich Observatory (of 0° fame). As we waited in the rain for entry, our attention was immediately caught by the flag flying above the complex, which we assumed must be the flag of the observatory.
After a good examination of the telescopes, clocks and living quarters and admiring views across to the north taking in the city of London, impressive even in the rain, we proceeded down the hill to the National Maritime Museum, which currently is showing a display on Horatio Nelson, culminating of course in the Battle of Trafalgar. We were treated to viewing a flag from the battle along with many mementos of Nelson, many from his funeral. I was privileged to be in a group with conservator Rachel Phelan (who spoke yesterday on the Irish Republic flag), who was able to analyses every stitch for us, and show us the tricks used by the museum to make as presentable as possible!
Our third stop took us back out into the rain, and on to the river to visit the Cutty Sark, a famous tea clipper, now restored and housed so that we could walk over it, through it and under it. All three museums are in easy walking distance and make a nice day out.
Following a scenic walking tour through Greenwich, a nice lunch in Davy’s Wine Vaults, and a hike back through the rain to the NMM again, we were treated to a lecture by Barbara Tomlinson, Curator Emerita of the flags of the museum, whose knowledge about maritime flags seems to know no limits. The day concluded with a stroll down some alleys, through the Greenwich Market, to the riverside pier to catch the Thames Clipper river boat back to Westminster, and then the tube to Imperial College. For those of us unfamiliar with London, that gave us a good chance to put many of the famous locations in perspective – Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the Shard, the Gherkin, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben’s Queen Elizabeth Tower. Regretfully steady rain limited the photography, but the memories will remain.
Tomorrow we are back to the college for day 4, the next day of talks, and after the talks our FOTW meeting. Any FOTWers in London, feel free to join us at 5 p.m. in Beit Hall!
Rob Raeside, 9 August 2017

10 August - Day 4

A big day today - lots of papers! We started by being informed we set two records yesterday - 2 months' rain in one day in Greenwich, and 3 years' worth of vexillologists attending the National Maritime Museum!
First paper by Marcel van Westerhoven took us into the world of Polderboard flags in the Netherlands, one of the earliest democratic units in the country. Up to 3500 of these boards existed in the mid 19th century, although flags were not adopted with profusion until the mid 20th century. However, amalgamation of boards has resulted in reduction to 1000 by 1970, and now only 22. Many had arms, some had flags. New boards tend to adopt LOBs, which resulted in much groaning from those assembled.
Next up was Bruce Berry who reviewed flags of Southern Rhodesia from 19th century through the period of UDI into the transition to Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was an interesting case where the union jack was often the legitimate flag, with others used along with it - the BSAC flag, the blue ensign with badge, then the light blue ensign with badge. Although no change occurred at UDI in 1965, as sanctions took hold anti-British sentiment grew and the UJ became less and less appreciated. In January 1967 the Committee on Honours and Awards proposed the well known green-white-green flag, possibly reflecting the green sporting uniforms. Although there was much criticism (too similar to Nigeria, too Islamic, arms too British), the flag was raised on the third anniversary of UDI. The flag became more symbolic of white Rhodesians, and largely through pressure of usage at Olympics, a transition was made to the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia red-white-green flag with black bar in 1979/80. The UJ was finally lowered in 1980 when the Zimbabwean flag was raised, but the flag still continues in use by white separatists.
Stoyan Antonov then took us into the world of Bulgarian municipal flags. Bulgaria has little tradition of local self-government, so the 1991 law that local municipalities "shall define their symbols" resulted in an explosion of such flags, sometimes with duplication of design, but with different arms. A large majority of these flags are green and white, and red is quite rarely used, even where it would be expected ("Red Bank" uses a flag officially defined as terra cotta).
Following coffee, Hervé Calvarin presented on "Doubts and Certainties in Vexillology". He first distinguished primary sources (the laws, archives, photographs, stamps) from secondary sources (books, testimonials, dictionaries, that require verification). Then he reviewed several widely reported "False!" flags - many of the reported early flags of French Sudan, Senegal, Togo, and Gabon, including several that Hervé drew himself from media sources when he was a teenager. Similar issues exist with flags from Cochin China, West Indies Federation and French Polynesia.
Jos Poels reviewed the evolution of the Gambian flag. For many years, Gambia (or the West African Settlements) used the famous blue ensign with the scene of an elephant trumpeting before a palm tree and range of hills. The problem here is that Gambia did not have elephants or hills. At autonomy and independence, a call for proposals was issued and 504 received (unfortunately not available), and the winning design was registered in the College of Arms on 18 October 1964. The meaning of the colours was revealed at independence the following 18 February - red for sun, blue for rive, green for agricultural resources, and white for unity and peace.
We were running later and later, but David Chkheidze gave a fascinating review of modern Georgian municipal flags, many of which have truly ancient links. He outline six rules used for the derivation of municipal flags as used by the Heraldic Council: (1) vexillological heritage (if a flag was used centuries ago, it should be reused), (2) the geographic component (e.g. the central location of a place, or 5 ethnic groups are represented by suitable designs), (3) cultural heritage (especially using ancient engravings), (4) using legends and myths local to an area, (5) reflecting the local economy, and (6) the toponymy (as in canting flags).
After lunch, Aleš Brožek reviewed flags of rowing clubs in Czechia. These date back at least to the 19th century, as used on rowboats, buildings, and were exchanged among clubs. Initially flags were simple striped flags with cantons, although flags in German areas avoided the use of Slavic blue-white-red combinations and preferred black-red-yellow.
The next talk was to have been given by Avelino Couceiro Rodriquez, from Cuba, but he was unable to attend, so it was delivered by Ian Sumner on the flags of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Why are these flags so similar? Reviewing the complex and little known history of these islands, we learned that following the 1869 uprising in Cuba, republican sentiment grew in Puerto Rico and among Puerto Ricans in New York, culminating with the four Vélez Alverado brothers who fomented an uprising from New York and introduced the colour-inverted Puerto Rican flag, supposedly after António Vélez stared at the Cuban flag and saw the Puerto Rican colours as an after-image when he looked away. Roberto Todd, some time mayor of San Juan, downplayed the PR flag in opposition to António Vélez, and in the end was responsible for lightening the blue and darkening the red.
Patrice de la Condamine gave a very animated talk (in French) about Flags and Women – women as inspiration for flags (the Virgin Mary for the Virgin of Guadeloupe, Mexico; the Marian interpretation of the EU flag; al-Minya, Egypt; the peasant woman of Luče, Slovenia); women allegorically on flags (Volgograd, Virginia, Alabama 1861); women who sewed flags (Brazil, USA, Haiti, Philippines), women who designed flags (Liberia, Algeria, Ghana, India 1904); women as activists (Greece 1821, India 1857). Let’s not forget women as heroes (Joan of Arc, Jeanne Hachette of ancient times; Maria Pineda in 19th century Spain and the “flag of the heroine of liberty”, and the Suffragette Movement in the USA and UK. Even today, many flags deal with women’s issues – Equal Rights, Women’s Day flags, End Violence against Women. Plus there are flags for queens, princesses, women’s corps in armies, and flags about mythical women as on the Irish harp, the Warsaw mermaid, and goddesses.
After our final coffee break, Uroš Žižmund reviewed national flags of Slovenia, so often confused with Russia and Slovakia. Although the white-blue-red dates from 1848, and is widely used as a national symbol, he feels change is needed. Proposals for change in 2003 led to no action. He presented two sets of flags – vertical white-blue-red and horizontal white-blue-yellow combinations, for CSW/CSW usages and rank flags. No promises were made, but he hoped for change in the future.
Finally our microphone man, Stan Zamyatin had his turn to stand up front (stand still is not possible for Stan!) to describe the county flag colours of Ireland. Rooted in the colours of teams in the Gaelic Athletic Association, dating back to 1884, the colours are an unofficial livery, but widely adopted for sporting flag purposes and borrowed for other purposes. He concluded that the designs are less important that the colours, which reflect basic tribal support.
That concluded our formal proceedings for the day. The organizers made an hour available for those interested in FOTW to meet to discuss issues and directions. A substantial number of people stayed behind to learn more about us, including many who are not generally active on FOTW. Discussion involved the nature of the FOTW editing process, the linkage (or not!) with FOTW-Facebook (we need help there!), the potential for contribution municipal flag information to, and many offers of material from several contributors. If all offers come to fruition, FOTW is going to be busy for the next few months!
Following the FOTW session, a memorial service was held in an adjacent church for Whitney Smith, one of the founding fathers of vexillology, who died last year. John Hall led the service and Kin Spain eloquently reflected on “Why are we here?” Several members reflected on personal interactions with Whitney, describing him as a giant, a mentor, a letter writer, and a friend. Following a reading of some of his writings, a moment of silence, and the playing of “Raining in my Heart” by Buddy Holly, we dismissed after a long and informative day.
Rob Raeside, 10 August 2017

11 August - Day 5

Day 5 – the home stretch is in sight! First up this morning was Željko Heimer who reviewed the use of municipal flags in Croatia. Municipal symbols go back several centuries in Croatia, but 1992 legislation for the adoption of coats of arms and flags has accelerated the process, pending somewhat limiting approval. He identified 7 periods of flag adoption (with an example of each given here): 13-16th century (Šibenik); maritime ensign designs of 14-17 century (the hippoglyph of Cres); 17-18th century military colours (Koprivnica), 19th century civic associations (Osijek), the national revival in Dalmatia (Split), the inter-war period as part of other countries (Zadar), and post WW2 modern graphical designs (Krapina). He also noted that Rijeka is trying to revert to the tricolor used in the 1990s, subsequent disapproved by the flag authority.
Tony Burton from Australia then reminded us of the incident caused by nine young men who rejoiced in Speedos adorned with the Malaysian flag after the Formula 1 race in Kuala Lumpur won by Australian Daniel Ricardo. This incident shocked Malaysians, and the nine were arrested, but subsequently released. Tony noted that the offences included offending Islam, as well as local custom, insulting civic pride, ignorance of that the Malaysian flag means, and failure to ask. He continued that the incident highlighted ways flags are used – in athletic celebrations (“wearing the colours”), misused (“caped crusaders”), and abused (“budgie smugglers”). He likened some of these uses to the display of multiple flags and huge flag fixtures as a form on one-upmanship.
Alain Raullet (Brittany) then showed us with his usual highly animated PowerPoint slides a new way to display a flag. We all know about carrying a flag upright from a pole, and using a central pole with a vertical flag or banner fully spread out, but in Breton celebrations flags are also carried horizontally over the shoulder (or in some cases both shoulders), and some flags are now being designed to take advantage of this method. In part this results from the heavy richly embroidered banners. This technique is also used in Trooping the Colours in the UK.
Roman Klimeš next reviewed attempts to fly Bohemian colours at early Olympic Games. Bohemia did not have a team in Athens (1896), and in Paris and St. Louis (1900, 1904), only an official attended. In London 1908 the white/red flag of Bohemia was used. Most of his talk focused on the Stockholm 1912 games, where the Austrohungarian emperor permitted the use of the Bohemian arms as provincial arms, with the Bohemian team marching behind the Austrian team using an Austrohungarian (red-white-red split with red-white-green) flag. In fact, small Bohemian flags using the silver two-tailed lion on a red shield were used on flags and uniforms.
Carlos Alberto Morales-Ramirez then reviewed the use of endemic animals on North and Central American flags. Reviewing some 4804 flags on FOTW, he discovered 28% show animals, some as part of national symbolism, some in scenes, some heraldic. He focused on rare, endangered or extinct animals – the Puerto Rico parrot on Rio Grande, the prairie chicken on Jasper County, Illinois, the Cuban crocodile on Cienaga de Zapata, the spirit bear on Terrace, BC, and the California grizzly bear. He noted that using animals on flags promotes conservation activities and awareness.
Last talk before lunch was Nicolas Hugot, who has researched flags in national constitutions. Beginning with the observation that the Australian Aboriginal flag is copyrighted, he asked “who owns it?” He examined the constitutions of several countries, beginning with the 15 countries in the UN Security Council. Some constitutions are very vague about the flags, some only refer to the usage, some have no mention of it. Many constitutions clearly presume that there was widespread understanding of design when the constitution was written.
After lunch Xinfeng Zhao regaled us with the flags of Genghis Khan – flag usage dates back to the 11th Century BCE in China, although the flags we saw (in reproduction) were not simple cloths, but rather bundles of horse-manes. The main “flag”, the Qagaan Sulde used the manes of 81 white horses, others the manes of black horses, or mixed bundles. We learned that the Qagaan Sulde was acquired in legend by Genghis Khan when he captured a lightning bolt in his hand, although Xingeng felt that it was more likely that it derived from pitchforks.
Next. Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg told us of his investigations of the Olympic flags, beginning with the earliest flags as regimental designs, in 1908. De Coubertin, as we know, devised the Olympic symbol in 1913, which was first used at the Olympics in Antwerp in 1920. That “original” flag is a fringed flag. Tracing the handing over of the flag from one Olympic host to the next proved complicated – slightly different flags appeared at different times, with varying shades on the rings, and different sizes of rings. Recalling the boycotted years of 1980 (Moscow) and 1984 (Los Angeles), Peter Hans asked how did they manage to get the flag transferred from Moscow to Los Angeles. And then there are the winter Olympic games!
Next up was Attila István Szekeres, who related some of the recent controversies surrounding the Szekeler flag, which is at least strongly discouraged in Romania. The modern flag is a relatively recent invention, but the 8-pointed or (preferably) multi-pointed star and crescent go back 400 years, along with an arm and sword with boar’s head, boar’s heart or boar’s fangs symbols. Some counties in Szekelerland re-use these symbols legitimately.
Our final session started off with a call to San Antonio, for ICV 28 on 15-19 July 2019. Several venues were featured for this Hemisflag – Flags at the Confluence of Civilizations of the Americas conference, including the opening flag raising in Travis Park and the closing banquet in the Spanish Governor’s Palace.
The next talk was by me, looking at the use of flags for municipalities in Canada, starting with dates of introduction, moving on to elements of the flag, and the transition from heraldic-based flags to flags with logos, to flags designed as part of a branding campaign. My forecast for the future is to brace yourself for lots more swoops and swirls.
Aleksander Hribovšek then introduced the new flags of flag officers of Heraldica Slovenica. Derived from the coat of arms of Carniola (blue eagle on a shield), a range of designs were posted with a white saltire design using blue above and below and red to hoist and fly. Rank flags are based on the Austro-Hungarian system of rank flags from the 1880s.
Last speaker was Theun Okkerse, who spoke about the obverse and reverse paradox – how do we display flags on paper when they have different reverses? He suggested that double-sided flags be displayed with the pole diagrammatically shown between the reverse (on the left) and obverse (on the right).
That concluded the formal presentations, and we retired to prepare for the closing banquet in the spectacularly elegant surrounds of the Horseguards Hotel in central London. Awards were made to NvVV for hosting ICV 25 and successfully concluding the final publication. The new Whitney Smith Award for the best paper at the conference was awarded to Rachel Phelan who spoke on the first day on the conservation of the Irish Republic flag. The Vexillon for the most important contribution to vexillology was awarded by Michel Lupant to Pierre-Jean Guionin from SHOM, France, for his work on the Album des Pavillons, Fellowships of the FIAV were awarded to Roger Baert, SVB (Belgium), Kath Kearney (Flag Institute), Ken Reynolds (Ottawa), Maggie Sumner (Flag Institute) and Leigh Wetherall. Finally, Željko Heimer was awarded a Laureate of FIAV for his doctoral dissertation, a copy of which were privileged to obtain with registration for the conference. Following a chance to revel in the opulence of the Horseguards, we retired for our final night in London, before dispersing around the world again after a first-rate congress, apparently seamlessly organized by the FI members, and many good memories. Now I am on the train to Scotland, and will return to Canada after a week’s visit there.
Rob Raeside, 12 August 2017

Prime Meridian flag

[ICV 22] image by Rob Raeside, 9 August 2017

The flag reported by Rob is the Prime Meridian flag. This Prime Meridian flag is a design proposal by Chris Maddish, which was included in his presentation the day before. The Flag Institute arranged for the flag to be flown on the Greenwich Observatory for our visit. It is not the flag of the Observatory. It was a nice gesture for the ICV, but let's not assume it has any status. Shortly after we passed through the entrance, the flag was lowered and replaced by the Union Jack.
Ralph Kelly, 20 August 2017

"The flag (described at Chris Maddish's personal blog: of the Prime Meridian uses the colours blue, white, yellow, black, and orange. The central blue checker pattern represents the center zero point of Prime Meridian. The black and yellow horizontal stripes symbolize that when it is high noon at the Prime Meridian the day has officially begun at midnight on the other side of the world.

Countries that can fly this flag on their prime meridian include Ghana, Togo, Burkina-Faso, Algeria, Mali, Spain, France, and U.K. as well as Antarctica."
Esteban Rivera, 9 August 2017