Leicestershire becomes final English county to adopt an official flag | Leicester

Lancashire’s has a red rose, Kent’s has a white horse and Nottinghamshire’s features Robin Hood. Nearly every county in England has had its own flag for some time – but until this week one was missing.

After a public campaign lasting almost a decade, Leicestershire has finally raised its own official county flag for the first time.

The flag features a fox, an animal closely associated with the county, and has been hoisted for the first time outside parliament in time for Historic County Flag Day on Friday.

“It’s really joyous and it’s really lovely to see the pride people have taken in it. I’ve been amazed at how strong the response has been,” said Alicia Kearns, the MP for Rutland and Melton, who helped lead the campaign.

She took up the cause when she was elected in 2019, working with local campaigners who had been fighting for the flag since 2013. “I just thought it was such a shame we didn’t have one. Our flags carry our history, they carry our pride, they help define who we are and they allow us to celebrate our communities,” she said.

The flag, designed by the flag enthusiast Jason Saber, features a fox, which is present on the logos of numerous county organisations and sports clubs, including Leicester City football club and Leicestershire county cricket club, both of which are known as the Foxes.

The cinquefoil at the top of the flag, so called for its five petals, was used by Robert de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Leicester, and is now found on the civic arms of several Leicestershire towns, Saber said, while the colours and zigzag derive from the shield used by the local noble Simon de Montfort (1205-1265).

The county flags of Cornwall, Yorkshire, Northumberland and Lincolnshire. Composite: Alamy

“My aim was to design a flag that would harmoniously combine all four traditional county themes,” he said.

The campaigner Bill Brown, the county chair of the British Legion in Leicestershire, said he was ecstatic to see the flag in action. “I was down in Parliament Square on Monday morning when they raised it for the first time, and I was absolutely blown away,” he said. “We’ve now got something to hang our pride on. We were the last county to get a historic county flag, so it’s quite poignant.” He worked alongside Graham Shipley, a professor of ancient history at the University of Leicester, to get the flag officially recognised.

County flags vary in age, with some being hundreds of years old and some introduced more recently, said Graham Bartram, the chief vexillologist at the Flag Institute, which registered the final English county flag. “The flag of Kent goes back to the kingdom of Kent, so we’re talking before Alfred the Great,” he said. “There’s a whole spectrum of ages.”

He said county flags were created to be flags of the people, and each was designed to reflect its county’s unique identity in some way. For instance, Gloucestershire’s flag has cream to represent Cotswold stone, he said, while Cornwall’s black and white flag is thought to link to its tin industry, representing black ore and white metal.

“Flags are an incredibly powerful way of expressing identity,” Bartram said. “Some people say, ‘oh, but it’s just a piece of fabric’. But it’s a piece of fabric that people are invested in. It’s it’s important to them.”




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