April 23rd is St. George’s day, and if 2023 wasn’t a peculiar year in which bank holidays have been moved around due to the king’s coronation we’d all be having a day off to celebrate the patron saint of England. Of course we already have eight national public holidays in the UK, but in Nepal the lucky blighters have 35, writes David Little, a partner in our Corporate and Commercial Law team.
In case you were wondering the legend of St. George and the Dragon describes the saint taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices. April 23 marks the anniversary of his death in 303 AD.
The story of St. George is described here: “St. George was born in what is present-day Turkey. Following in his father’s steps, he became a soldier and quickly rose in the ranks of the Roman army, ending up as a personal guard to Emperor Diocletian. When the emperor ordered the persecution of Christians, St. George refused to follow his orders. For this insubordination he was tortured and executed in 303 A.D. in Palestine, where he is now buried.”
The story of St. George slaying a dragon is explained thus, “The town of Silene was captured by a dragon. The locals would offer a human sacrifice to the dragon every day. When St. George was visiting the town, a princess was chosen to be sacrificed. So he killed the dragon and saved the people of Silene. To express their gratitude, the locals converted to Christianity.”
The legend of St. George is depicted in the English flag. The red cross over a white background has meaning it is St. George’s Cross, and it forms the base of the flag of the Union, or the ‘Union Jack’ as the flag it is colloquially known.
But as a Welshman, I’m not sure how I feel about St. George doing away with Wales’ national symbol. The reason why Wales’ emblem is a dragon is explained in detail here. It is believed that the Welsh kings of Aberffraw first adopted the dragon in the early fifth century in order to symbolise their power and authority after the Romans withdrew from Britain. Later, around the seventh century, it became known as the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr, king of Gwynedd from 655 to 682.
So, why doesn’t the Red Dragon appear on the Union Jack? It would make a rather dull flag more exciting.
The answer is provided by no lesser source than The Royal Family’s website, “The Welsh dragon does not appear on the Union Flag. This is because when the first Union Flag was created in 1606, the Principality of Wales by that time was already united with what was originally a Royal flag.”
So now you know.
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David Little is a Partner at Bishop & Sewell in our expert Corporate & Commercial team. If you would like to contact him, please quote Ref CB391 on either 020 7631 4141 or email email@example.com.
The above is accurate as at 20 April 2023. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times. The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.