Thursday, 9 July 2009

British Virgin Islands - Current

The flag of the British Virgin Islands is a defaced Blue Ensign with the Union Flag in the canton, and defaced with the Coat of Arms of the British Virgin Islands in the fly. The Coat of Arms of the islands is “…a green shield charged with twelve golden oil lamps with red flames and a female figure, St. Ursula, patron saint of the British Virgin Islands attired in white and wearing sandals, carrying one of those lamps.”[1] There is a small white fimbration around the arms to strengthen the outline of darker arms on the dark blue background.[2] The flag was adopted on 15th November 1960.[3]

The colours of the flag are those of the Union Flag and all UK derivatives of Pantone Red 186 and Blue 280.[4] For the other colours on the flag I am unable to find reference. However another source gives the Blue as Pantone Blue 281.[5]

The symbolism of the Coat of Arms on the flag stems from the original name for the islands as given by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Columbus gave them the fanciful name Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes (Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins), shortened to Las Vírgenes (The Virgins), after the legend of Saint Ursula.[6] Saint Ursula is depicted holding one lamp and the other eleven lamps represent the 11,000 virgins who were martyred with her.[7]

[1] History of the Flag, Government of British Virgin Islands,
[2] Graham Bartram, Flags of the World,
[3] Wikipedia,
[4] Graham Bartram, Flags of the World, quoting source Graham Bartram, British Flags & Emblems, The Flag Institute, Tuckwell Press, UK, 2004.
[5] Caribbean, Pantone Colours[6] Wikipedia,
[7] David Prothero, Flags of the World,
[fig1] Martin Grieve, Flags of the World,

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