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Flag: the St George’s cross (see above)

A red cross acted as a symbol for many Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. It became associated with St George who’s claimed to be the patron saint of England (the saint’s day – 23 April). The red cross remained in national use until 1707, when the Union Flag was adopted for all purposes to unite the whole of Great Britain under a common flag.

Plant: rose

The rose as the national flower of England is used in a variety of contexts. Predominantly, this is a red rose (which also symbolises Lancashire), such as the badge of the English Rugby Union team. However, a white rose (which also symbolises Yorkshire) or a “tudor rose” (symbolising the end of the Wars of the Roses*) may also be used on different occasions.


Flag: St Andrew’s cross (see above) – also known as the Saltire

(St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland (the saint’s day – 30 November))

Plant: thistle

The national flower of Scotland features in many Scottish symbols and logos, and UK currency. It is also used as the emblem of the Scottish Rugby team.


Flag: the Red Dragon (see above)

Plant: leek and daffodil (they share the Welsh name Ceninen)

It is believed that the leek, if eaten, encourages good health and happiness. This plant, which was worn by the Welsh in the Battle of Crecy** and, by 1536, when Henry VIII gave a leek to his daughter on 1 March, was already associated with St David’s Day. It is possible that the green and white family colours adopted by the Tudors were taken from their liking for the leek.

The daffodil has only recently assumed a position of national importance. An increasingly popular flower during the 19th century, especially among women, its status was elevated by the Welsh-born prime minister David Lloyd George, who wore it on St David’s Day and used it in ceremonies in 1911 to mark the investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon.

Patron saint: St David (the saint’s day – 1 March; it has been celebrated as such since the 12th century)

Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1526

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