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Flag Variants (Gibraltar, United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2010-10-08 by eugene ipavec
Keywords: gibraltar | united kingdom | coat of arms (castle: red) | castle (red) | castle (black) | union flag: bordure | key (yellow) |
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General Variants

While I have no argument with any "official" or de jure flag descriptions, I was on a recent visit to Gibraltar in August, the week before their "national holiday" (or so I was told). Upon entering the colony, there was a set of three poles flying an EU, UK and Gibraltar flag on each just across the border from Spain. [BTW, Spain had only one flag flying opposite these flags but it was about 2 to 3 times larger.] Nevertheless, the Gibraltar flag had no details on the castle. There were no gates or openings in the wall. It was just a solid-red, castle-shaped blob.

As far as other differences, the top part of the key was more squared than the diamond-shape indicated in Mr. Canessa's drawing. The tie or rope from the key to the castle was a simple gold line, not the detailed, woven strand indicated.

Moreover, the flags that were for sale were not 3'x6', but 3'x5' versions made in Taiwan from cheap polyester; they did not comply with Mr. Canessa's diagram either.

Paige Herring, 17 Nov 2003

Variant With Nonperpendicular Hoist

It seems that the Gibraltar Government London Office on the Strand, London, flies a flag cut in a non-rectangular fashion so that when hoisted on the flagpole which is neither horizontal nor vertical, it hangs straight down with the bottom (fly) edge parallel with the ground. Is this unusual/common in Gibraltar/a figment of my imagination?

Jonathan Dixon, 27 Sep 2007

That type of flag is very common on Regency in particular, but also other buildings in central London, like the Institute of Directors (IoD) nearby, in Belgravia and in Victoria. They often also have a second piece of rope attached to the bottom of the flag, so that it hardly flutters in the wind at all. This might be a practice of the City of Westminster planners, as many areas of the city are in conservation areas. The Gibraltar banner has been that way as long as I can remember.

Colin Dobson, 27 Sep 2007

Variant With Filled-In Castle Background

[Flag Variant With Filled-In Castle Background (Gibraltar)]
image by Martin Grieve, 03 Apr 2005, and Eugene Ipavec, 28 Jul 2010

At the official site of the Government of Gibraltar, one can see a (very large) photo of the an official occasion, a document-signing ceremony for some kind of agreement with the US. The Gibraltar flag in the background has several minor differences from the official model – the three windows on the central tower are larger and of equal size, the lower story of the central tower is bordered with two lines, not one, and the platform it is on extends farther back. But there is one major mistake, and an oddly amateurish one: the empty space between the central and flanking towers is filled in with red.

Eugene Ipavec, 28 Jul 2010

Variant With Smaller Castle, Thinner Red Stripe

[Variant With Smaller Castle, Thinner Red Stripe (Gibraltar)] 1:2
image by Juan Manuel Gabino

Variant With More Heavily Built Castle, Detailed Masonry

[Flag Variant With More Heavily Built Castle, Detailed Masonry (Gibraltar)]
image by Željko Heimer

As always, the existence of variants in actual use is of interest, and if the variant were the one in predominant use, I would go so far as to say it was the de facto flag of Gibraltar. But it sounds as if the opposite is the case – that the flag with black masoning on the castle is the one in actual use.

Joseph McMillan, 14 Jun 2002

...including at the official website of the Government of Gibraltar.

Ned Smith, 15 Jun 2002

Curiously enough, Government of Gibraltar home page shows an actual flag similar to the one above while the flag in the national symbols webpage of that same website is similar to the one at the top but with masonry!

Blas Delgado, 15 Jun 2002

Graham Bartram's usually well informed World Flag Database used to show a flag (until ca. December 2003) similar to the one above, but currently (March 2005) shows a flag like the one at the top with no masonry.

Santiago Dotor, 02 Mar 2005

Variant with Slanting Walls, Detailed Masonry

[Flag Variant With Slanting Walls, Actual Flag (Gibraltar)]
image by António Martins

Dov Gutterman sent a scan from an actual flag bought in Gibraltar, according to which I made the GIF above. Please note the perspective assymetry of the castle and the unusual ratio of ~54:83, where I would expect to find 2:3 or 3:5, both faithfully taken from the original image.

António Martins, 03 Jan 2000

I guess the unusual ratio is because of the piece of cloth used for the sleeve.

Dov Gutterman, 04 Jan 2000

There were a lot of flags printed with angled castles, however the recent ones have been corrected to the style of castle shown on the main page.

Jim Watt, 23 Mar 2003

Variants Combining Union / Gibraltar Flags

[Variant Combining Union / Gibraltar Flags (Gibraltar)]
image by Željko Heimer and Ken Westmoreland, 26 Mar 2003
[Variant Combining Union / Gibraltar Flags (Gibraltar)]
image by Željko Heimer, Clay Moss and António Martins-Tuválkin, 27 Sep 2007

When I was in Gibraltar in the weeks leading up to the referendum last year, I saw this flag being flown. Interesting design...

Ken Westmoreland, 26 Mar 2003

Here is a small, but interesting, depiction of Union / Gibraltar flags combined (presumably by the people.)

Colin Dobson, 27 Sep 2007

At the Wikipedia Commons, the original of this image. All of these combined flags look identical, even if it is hard to say from such small image. But flags with this design were either "mass"-produced (10 can be seen on the photo) or else somebody did some very careful stitching. In short, it shows the Gibraltar civil flag on a larger Union Jack, whose unmistakable pattern shows through as a border.

These flags seem to be 3:5 (*) and the added Gibraltine design is cropped at the sides to leave an identical edge all around. The red stripe matches the upper edge of the bottom blue area of the union jack. There seem to be two shades of red in use. The castle design used seems to be the one with heavily built castle and detailed masonry.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 27 Sep 2007

Unidentified (Independentist?) Variant

[Unidentified Variant (Gibraltar)] 1:2
image by Jorge Candeias

I have a photograph taken in Gibraltar with a lot of flags. These flags are white over red in a proportion of 1:2, like the flag of the colony, but, unlike this one, the castle is black and there is no key.

I doubt it is home-made. This photo came out in some magazine, and I cut it out in a time when I only cut from the photographs the flags themselves and not the whole photograph. So, I do not have the whole photo. But I have two pieces of it, each with one of these flags (very small), and I distinctly remember that there where a lot of flags, many hanging vertically from ropes streched across the street. All alike. This has to be industrially made.

Jorge Candeias, 09 Mar 1998

[Gibraltar UFE picture] [Gibraltar UFE picture (detail)]
image by Jorge Candeias

I scanned these two photograph items. I remember that the photo showed one street filled with these ropes stretched from one side to the other, where several such flags were hanging, alternating with other ropes with small triangular pennants, plain red or blue, or with UJs in them, as seen in the detail of the blue rectangle. If you compare the two flags, you can see that they are identical and correspond more or less to my drawing (though to be really accurate I should have made it vertically) and description: the castle is black allright, but, if you watch closely the detail, you see what could perhaps be a black key beneath the castle.

Now, this was obviously took during some local festivity. In my opinion, the best explanation to these flags is that it is cheaper to produce flags with a black outline of the castle than those official flags with the red castle filled with black lines. In that case, I would regard them as unofficial variations of the Gibraltar flag.

Jorge Candeias, 19 Aug 1999