Our Flags of the World series is in its third installment. This series has been a fun way to dive deep into the finer points of vexillology and get introduced to new flags we may not have seen before. As you can imagine, for us, this is as good as it gets. Talking about flags. What more could we ask for?
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Our featured flag of the world is a unique one. Despite breaking every standard and understood vexillological guideline, the flag of Wales is one of the most talked about and beloved flags.
The Welsh flag displays a red heraldry dragon on a green and white field. The flag’s origin is incredibly storied. The red dragon was originally the red dragon of Cadwaladr, the king of Gwynedd. Cadwaldar incorporated the green and white as a nod to the Tudor dynasty. Henry VII carried this flag into battle in 1485, and then to state in St. Paul’s Cathedral. The red dragon insignia was used throughout Wales, and eventually adopted as the official insignia of Wales in 1959.
The red dragon insignia is notable for a few reasons.
- The red dragon has been used all over Wales for a very, very long time.
- The dragon is a common design element of the flag of Bhutan, and the older, but still well recognized, flag of the Chinese Qing dynasty.
How the red dragon survived 500 years as a symbol of Wales until its eventual adoption is a convoluted tale. Theories surrounding its origin are a dime a dozen. Some suspect it came from Roman soldiers when Rome occupied Britain.
The oldest instance of the red dragon is in Historia Brittonum, from the 800s. The book tells the tale of two serpents, white and red (representing the Saxons and the Britons, respectively) dueling underground. After a long fought battle, the red dragon prevailed. This story was turned into a prophecy of sorts and a focus of Britain folklore.
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