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High Commissioner for Palestine Ensign 1936-1948 (British Mandate of Palestine 1923-1948)

Last modified: 2014-05-29 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: high commissioner | canton: union flag | disc (white): badge | garland | crown: royal | palestine high commissioner |
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Official badge design, possibly used Badge as actually used in 1948
[High Commissioner for Palestine Ensign 1936-1948, official badge design (British Mandate of Palestine)]      [High Commissioner for Palestine Ensign 1936-1948, badge as actually used in 1948 (British Mandate of Palestine)] 1:2

both images by Željko Heimer and António Martins

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This flag should have been flown only when the High Commissioner was afloat. The Union Flag would have been the usual flag on land.
The shape of the crown was unusual for a British flag.
Nozomi Kariyasu's scan of the Palestine High Commissioner's badge is the official design which would have been surrounded by the standard green laurel leaf garland on a Union Flag. Approved by High Commissioner 17th July 1935, published as part of 1936 amendment (No.5) to Drawings of the Flags of All Nations 1930, discontinued 15th May 1948. The badge that was actually in use in 1948 was more like this scan. This is a reconstruction based on the flag flown on the High Commissioner's launch as shown in a black and white news-reel. The garland should be thicker than in the drawing, I presume that it would have been green, and the crown yellow.
David Prothero, 16 February and 17 October 1999, 18 August 2000 and 15 March 2001

British Union Flag 1:2 defaced in the middle with white disk containing the badge and encircled with green garland. Badge consists of a yellow crown (untypical for British crowns) below which is inscribed in serif font in three rows 'PALESTINE HIGH COMMISSIONER', the lower row being curved. The actual badge as shown on David Prothero's scan and the one in Flaggenbuch 1939 are more then very similar — I cannot see any difference.
Željko Heimer, 17 February 2002

In 1932 the Palestine High Commissioner applied to the Colonial Office for a distinguishing flag. He made some journeys by launch, but had no defaced Union Flag of the type normally used to identify a vessel in which a commissioner was travelling. He did not consider that the badge used on the ensigns was suitable, and suggested a badge similar to those of the High Commissioners of the Western Pacific and South Africa. These badges had an imperial crown and appropriate initials, on a white disc surrounded by a garland of green leaves.
The Colonial Office agreed that the badge on the ensigns was, "repellent", and were considering the adoption of a badge that had a crown in the centre with 'PALESTINE' above and 'H.C.' below, when it was decided that the Foreign Office would probably not agree to a badge which featured a crown. The status of the administration of a mandated territory was not entirely clear, and some were of the opinion that in Palestine the Colonial Office were agents of the League of Nations, and that the use of a royal crown was not appropriate. It was proposed instead that a simplified version of the design that had been used for the Public Seal, should be used as a flag badge. (...) The badge based on the Seal was [strongly opposed by the Jewish Agency] and abandoned and on 17th July 1935 the High Commissioner selected a badge, similar to that of the Western Pacific High Commissioner, that had been considered in 1932. The design of the crown is unusual, but is perhaps a simplified version of the standard Imperial Crown with the normally domed arches flattened to make more space within the white circle for the lettering.
The difficulty of fitting the crown and lettering into the available space may explain the version of the badge that appeared on the flag of the High Commissioner when his departure from Palestine was filmed in 1948.
David Prothero, 4 March 2002

Badge actually used in 1948

[Badge actually used in 1948 (High Commissioner for Palestine Ensign 1936-1948, British Mandate of Palestine)]image by Željko Heimer

Unusual crown design

The shape of the crown was unusual for a British flag. (...) I would be interested if anyone can identify the style of the crown which is not a Tudor/Imperial crown and unlike any other that I have seen. It is similar to that of Henry VII (1485) as drawn in Neubecker 1977 page 171.
David Prothero, 16 February and 17 October 1999 and 18 August 2000

Initially I thought that the crown on the badge might intend to represent that of some (English) Crusader king. I have carried minor research and I believe the crown has no heraldic or historical support. The appearance of the crown, the way the pearls on the arches are represented, the lack of colour (all yellow) etc. certainly makes it look like a crown on a medieval seal. However, according to Fox-Davies 1996 who quotes in full a text on English crowns by Cyril Davenport F.S.A., an expert on the subject, the first English king to use a crown with crosses-pattée was Henry VI, and the first to combine these with fleurs-de-lys was Henry VII, both long past the times of Crusader dominion over Palestine.
Santiago Dotor, 2 February 2000