He was probably unaware of it, but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown silently appealed to China to save him from disaster last week. Equally unwittingly, he upset vexillologists, people who study flags. The British flag was displayed upside down when Brown received Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at his official residence in Downing Street, London, to sign a trade agreement.
An opposition MP complained of "an unbelievable flaw in protocol" but it would be surprising if Wen had noticed anything amiss.
It would be obvious if the Chinese flag were inverted, with its five golden stars relegated to the bottom of their red field, and that is true of most national flags. Imagine the US stars below the stripes or the Canadian maple leaf falling.
Symbolising various parts of the United Kingdom, it has the red-and-white English cross of St George super-imposed onto the Scottish saltire, a blue-and-white X-shaped cross of St Andrew, with the red-and-white saltire of Ireland's St Patrick on the white diagonals.
When the Union Flag is flown correctly, the broader parts of the white diagonals are uppermost in the half closest to the flagpole. If the thinner white diagonals are uppermost, it signals distress.
It is a matter of conjecture whether anyone would notice in the heat of battle or during a storm at sea.
"It is a matter of conjecture whether anyone would notice in the heat of battle or during a storm at sea." It would be hoped that some sharp eyed person would notice, inverted it is meant to be a signal of distress.
Brigadier. I don't see the connection between our Prime Minister and the fact that someone else had put the flag upside down. How does the fact that he is Scottish effect it. Are you suggesting perhaps that he put it up that way himself on purpose? Were there no Scottish people in your regiment? If there were you would/should have a better opinion of them (I'm English by the way).
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