Mar 1, 2013

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The story of the Welsh Flag

The story of the Welsh Flag

Undoubtedly you are familiar with the Welsh flag – a green and white background with a red dragon sitting on top.  Known as Baner Cymru or Y Draig Goch in Welsh, meaning simply The Red Dragon, it has actually only been an official flag of Wales since the year 1959.  However, the red dragon emblem has a much longer history with Wales.  Although there is no concrete evidence as to why Wales adopted the red dragon as a national emblem, there are plenty of theories.

One suggested theory that has some weight to it is that when the Romans occupied Britain they brought the emblem to the part of the old country that is now known as Wales as the Draco standard used by the Roman cavalry soldiers.  However, it could be even older than that instance.  The green and white stripes were connected to the House of Tudor, the Welsh line of kings and queens that were on the throne in England from the years 1485 to 1603.  Another possible connection is the fact that green and white and also the colours of the vegetable which is a Welsh emblem.

Although the oldest instance of Wales being symbolised by the dragon was written in 830 for the Historia Brittonum, there is a firmly held popular belief that the dragon was used as a battle standard for ancient Celtic leaders such as Arthur and many others.  The dragon also is associated with Wales through poetry, particularly with Gwynedd, the Cadwaladr King between the years 655 and 682.

There are many mythological legends associated with the Welsh red dragon with the most famous of them being the Myrddin prophecy.  This concerns Myrddin or Merlin as he is better known and the long fight between the white and red dragons.  In the prophecy it states that the white dragon would dominate over the red for some time, but in the end the red dragon would win.  This victory and recapturing of Lloegr (Which although at the time was considered to be a small part of England, is now considered to refer to the whole of England) would be brought about by Y Mab Darogan.  Y Mab Darogan is translated into English as Prophesised Son, The Destined or the Son of Destiny whom many suggest is King Arthur.  It is thought that this represents the on-going conflict that lasted from the 5th century through to the 6th between invading Saxons and the British Celts, who would eventually become the Welsh.

The Welsh flag is thought to be the longest used flag in the world; it is the only flag of the countries that make up the United Kingdom that is not represented in the Union Flag.  This is because King Edward the 1st annexed Wales from England in 1282 and ever since the Laws in Wales Act of 1535 to 1542 have been recognised as a part of the English Kingdom.  Although there has been many proposals drafted and put forward for the red dragon or the flag of Saint David to be represented in the Union Flag, they have never been met with much support and have never been pursued.   Interestingly the only two flags in the world that use a dragon are the Bhutan and the Welsh flags.  For more information regarding flags and their origins visit Flagpoles.

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