Flag of Jersey
|Design||Red saltire on a white field, surmounted by a yellow Plantagenet crown, and the badge of Jersey. |
The current flag is the first to be adopted officially. Unofficially, a plain red saltire had been used since at least the 1830s. The official flag adds the badge and crown to this.
The origins of the association to Jersey of the red saltire are unknown. A 1906 letter by the Bailiff of Jersey, describing the flag as "the red St Andrew's cross on white ground", states it was used to signal the neutrality of the Channel Islands during wars between England and France. A 1483 papal bull guaranteed the islands' neutrality during the Hundred Years' War. The saltire may have been a variation of the St George's Cross.
Links to the St Patrick's Cross have been proposed. The St Patrick's Cross is commonly identified with the arms of the FitzGeralds, a Cambro-Norman family which became powerful in Ireland, and who also owned land in Jersey. N. V. L. Rybot in 1951 suggested that Jersey's flag originated from a mistake in a 1783 flag book by Carington Bowles, which was copied by later authors. Rybot's theory is that Bowles misinterpreted Ierse (Dutch for "Irish") as meaning "Jersey" in a Dutch flag-book he used as a source. However, French Admiralty charts show that Jersey was using the red saltire before 1783.
The move to a new flag was begun in 1977 with Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. It was felt by many in Jersey that the flag was insufficiently distinctive to represent the island, that there was too much confusion with the cross of St. Patrick as an Irish symbol, and that the red saltire had been taken as one of the international maritime signal flags.