Prison officers who wore a St George's Cross tie-pin have been ticked off by the jails watchdog.Really? Just as I was trying to point out yesterday, things are much more tangled than we sometimes imagine. I can make a case for the tie-pins as celebrations of multi culturalism.
The English national flag could be 'misinterpreted' as a racist symbol, Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers said in a report on Wakefield prison.
The St George Cross is also the symbol of Milan, Genoa, Freiburg and Montreal. Its used in the flag of the city of Barcelona in Spain, and it appears on the flag of Georgia. The Lega Nord, a popular Italian political party campaigning for the independence of Northern Italy, also uses the St George Cross as an official symbol.
St. George is venerated not just by the Church of England, but by the Catholic, Orthodox and Coptic churches. He is the patron saint of Aragon, Bavaria, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to St Mark).
Further, in the twelfth century Richard the Lionheart - who was the first English king to put his armies under the protection of St George - adopted the star and crescent as a royal badge. He took if from the Emperor's standard of the Governor of Cyprus after capturing the island. He also granted it to Portsmouth - where it is still used - as the heraldic crest of the newly incorporated Royal borough.
The symbol didn't become associated with Islam until after the fall of Constantinople much later in the fifteenth century, but if you could go back in time and jog the right elbow perhaps the star and crescent would be on the flag of England instead of the Saint George cross.
Would that set the cat among the pigeons?