How the Royal Standard flag on the Queen's coffin was made

·5-min read
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

The Royal Standard flag bears the Royal coat of arms and was the flag of the Queen during her reign as monarch.

Since Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday 8 September, the flag has taken on extra pertinence as a large Royal Standard flag has been carefully draped over the late Queen's coffin.

Previously, you may have seen the flag – often referred to as simply the Standard – flown when the Queen was in residence at one of the Royal palaces, on official car journeys and even on aircraft (when on the ground).

It could also be flown on buildings during a visit from Her Majesty, according to the Royal family website. When the Queen attended Parliament, it was flown from Victoria Tower at Westminster. However, it's never flown at half-mast like the Union Jack, as even when a Monarch passes away there is still a Sovereign.

There are two versions of the Royal Standard – one for Scotland and one for the rest of the UK. This is why the flag on the Queen's coffin was a different design in Scotland to the one seen when the Queen was returned to London.

The Queen was lying-in-state in Westminster Hall from Wednesday 14 September, allowing mourners to pay their respects before her state funeral on Monday 19 September at Westminster Abbey.

In the magnificence of Westminster Hall, the Queen's coffin rested on a raised platform called a catafalque. Draped in the Royal Standard, the Imperial Crown, the sovereign's orb and sceptre were rested on top, along with a floral wreath, reports the BBC.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

This morning, the Queen's coffin, draped in the Standard, was carried from the catafalque to the gun carriage which was pulled by members of the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral which began at 11 am (BST).

Following the service, the funeral procession travelled from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch, where the Queen's coffin was transferred to a hearse for her final journey to Windsor.

A committal service will take place at 4pm at St George's Chapel, Windsor. The Queen will be laid to rest during a private family service taking place at 7.30pm this evening.

Here, we take a look at how the Royal Standard flag is made and what the design signifies.

How is the Royal Standard flag made?

The Royal Standard flag draped on the Queen's coffin was made by Flying Colours Flagmakers, based in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The company has been making flags for the Royal family since 2000 and has held a Royal Warrant since 2008. Owner Andy Ormrod told Prima it takes 50 to 60 hours to make a complete Royal Standard flag of the size on the Queen's coffin.

Three people from the 18-strong company are involved in making the special flag, each taking care of a specific part of the process.

The first step involves printing a faint outline of the design onto the four quadrants of the flag, each measuring 3 foot by 6 foot.

Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO - Getty Images
Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO - Getty Images

Using a zigzag stitch on a sewing machine, fabric is then appliquéd on to create the design.

"When they’ve done that, they’ll trim off the excess fabric," says Andy. "It’s like a mosaic. The whole flag is 12 ft by 6ft. You work on each quarter at a time."

This intricate appliqué work is done by a single person to ensure consistency across the flag. "You have your own particular style of handwriting and it’s the same with sewing machines – people sew differently," he explains. "One person does most of the work."

Once appliquéd the four quarters are joined together using a flat felled seam.

"It’s folding two pieces a fabric together and they make a seam," says Andy. "It grabs the fabric twice and it’s stitched twice. It has to be very straight. Then it’s squared off again and hemmed all round."

While in all the flag takes up to 60 hours to make, Andy says it's difficult to create in one go. "Your eyes go funny with all the designs so it’s manufactured over a period of time," he says.

In contrast to the Royal Standard, the Union Jack is made without appliqué.

Photo credit: Mark Kerrison - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mark Kerrison - Getty Images

"The Union Flag is all sewn so 31 pieces of fabric all stitched together," he says. "The largest Union flag flown in this country is flown at Windsor Castle. 38 ft by 19ft. And it’s made by us."

Reflecting on the attention turned on his company's work since the Queen's death, Andy described it as "subdued satisfaction". "We manufacture flags for joyous occasions," he says. "And then it suddenly hits you."

What do the symbols mean on the Royal Standard Flag?

Photo credit: bodrumsurf - Getty Images
Photo credit: bodrumsurf - Getty Images

Split into four quadrants, the first and fourth quadrants feature three lions in yellow on a red background, representing England. Scotland is in the second quadrant with a red lion on a yellow background and Ireland's arms are represented by a yellow harp on a blue backdrop in the third quarter.

If you're wondering why Wales isn't represented on the Royal Standard flag, the official Royal family site says this is because, "its special position as a Principality was recognised by the creation of the Prince of Wales long before the incorporation of the quarterings for Scotland and Ireland in the Royal Arms".

The Scottish version of the Royal Standard sees the Scottish and English arms switch positions – so the Scottish emblem is in the first and fourth quadrants and the English in the second.


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