Saturday 23 March 2024

A Playful Update?

That multicoloured thing is by definition not Saint George's Cross, but there is nothing especially "traditional" about Saint George's Flag, anyway. It goes back to the fourteenth century in England, although it is far older than that in many other places, but it had long fallen into almost complete desuetude here until 28 years ago.

Before Euro 96, although nearly everyone incorrectly called it something else, the English regarded the Union Flag as their national flag without any complication. It was not even a question. In my childhood, no one would have had any idea what Saint George's Flag was outside certain ecclesiastical circles that were obscure even in the 1980s, but around which I did happen to grow up. The 1966 World Cup Final is probably on YouTube. Check which flag most of the English fans were waving. The present Medieval revival was initiated 30 years later, which was in my adult lifetime, to sell bad beer to football's new middle-class audience, who were the only people who could still afford the tickets. Or the beer. It pre-dates devolution or anything like that.

But we do have it now. It is mostly harmless. Though not entirely so. And it can be used to advantage. There is a legend about Saint George, but he himself is not a purely legendary figure. His tomb at his birthplace, which is now known as Lod, was once a major focus of unity between Christians and Muslims in devotion to the Patron Saint of Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt before, and as much as, the Patron Saint of England. But three quarters of those who practised that devotion were violently expelled at the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948.


  1. Julie Burchill says something similar to this.

    1. "They make the place look like emergency medical centres."