Flag of Wales

An official emblem

Last updated: 08 August 2008

Although the dragon has been used in Wales for many years, it wasn't until the 20th century that it became an official symbol.

In 1284 Edward I incorporated Wales into England under the Statute of Rhuddlan. In 1301, Edward made his eldest son - also called Edward - Prince of Wales. Since then the eldest son of each English monarch has been given the title.

The Laws in Wales Acts, passed in 1536 and 1543 during the reign of Henry VIII from the Welsh Tudor dynasty, created a single state and legal jurisdiction, effectively annexing Wales to England.

Henry did, however, use the red dragon on green and white as an emblem on many Royal Navy vessels. It was also used by Queen Elizabeth I. Yet the Welsh influence waned when the Scottish James VI became James I (England) in 1605, and the dragon was replaced by a unicorn in the royal arms. It didn't return to the Royal Badge of Wales until 1807.

Largely because of the Laws in Wales Acts and the Statute of Rhuddlan, Wales is not represented on the Union Jack, other than through the cross of St George (Wales and England being, according to the acts, one country). Although proposals to incorporate it have been made, they have been met with muted enthusiasm.

In 1901 the dragon became the official symbol of Wales, and in Caernarfon in 1911, at the investiture of Edward, Prince of Wales, the flag appeared in its current form, helping its rise to prominence.

In 1953 it was announced that there would be a new royal badge containing the motto "Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn" (an approximate translation is "the red dragon inspires action").

In 1959, after successful lobbying by the Gorsedd of Bards and others, Queen Elizabeth II made the red dragon on a green and white background the official flag for Wales.

It was announced that the flag to be flown on government buildings would consist only of the red dragon on a green and white flag, rather than the 1953 badge, which was still in occasional use.

The 1959 design can today be seen right across Wales, and is a symbol of pride in history and heritage for Welsh people across the world.


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