DCMS unfurls flag-flying rules for government offices

Updated guidance calls for red, white and blue to be prominently displayed by default
Photo: PublicDomainPictures.net

By Jim Dunton

25 Mar 2021

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has published new guidance calling for the union flag to be flown on all government buildings every day, unless another flag is being flown for a specific purpose.

Currently the union flag only needs to be flown on government buildings on 20 days a year – including the birthdays of members of the royal family, national days and Remembrance Day.

But the guidance, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport yesterday, says that from this summer the union flag should be “flown all year round”, apart from when another flag is being flown – such as another UK national flag, a country flag or other flags to mark civic pride.

Dowden said the move is a response to public expectations.

“The union flag unites us as a nation and people rightly expect it to be flown above UK government buildings,” he said.

“This guidance will ensure that happens every day, unless another flag is being flown, as a proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us.”

Local authorities are also being encouraged to fly the union flag from their buildings. DCMS said ministers had “cut red tape” on flag flying that would allow “dual flagging” – where two flags can be flown on one pole.

The guidance clearly states that the union flag should always be “superior” so that when two flags are flown from the same pole, the union flag must always occupy the higher position.

When there are multiple flagpoles, the union flag should be flown from the highest flagpole. When the flagpoles are the same height, the union flag should be flown from the centre pole if there are an odd number of flagpoles. In circumstances where there is an even number of flagpoles of the same height, the union flag should fly from the left-centre flagpole as it is seen from the front of the building.

The DCMS guidance said that the flagpoles of UK government buildings should not remain empty and that “the default should be flying the union flag” if no other flag was being flown.

The guidance does not apply to Northern Ireland government buildings, which are covered by specific legislation.

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