QUESTION: The following Cayman sea flag was seen flying by Polar Bear in Industrial Park. Are people aware of the flag rules and protocol in the Cayman Islands?
QUESTION: The flag by Tortuga in George Town is always up and facing all sorts of weather. Is there any law for the Cayman flag?
ANSWER: In the past week we have received several questions about the Cayman Flag.
The flag of any country is a symbol of national pride and there are laws and protocols governing its usage in a proper manner.
The first place to look for any governing rules would be Coat of Arms, Flag and National Song Law (2005 Revision). This law does not actually provide any specific instructions on the handling of the flag except to say The Governor in Cabinet may issue guidelines setting out how the flag of the Islands can be flown.
We then contacted the Chief of Protocol, Meloney Syms, who provided us with some working documents that act as guidance that their office adheres to. Her office provides feedback on how to handle various things including flags.
Adopted in 1959 there are two versions of the flag – the blue for use on land and the red for use at sea. These are based on the British blue and red ensigns. The Maritime Flag which is what you saw by Polar Bear is red in color.
In 1999, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD) publication Flags of All Nations (BR 20) removed the white background discs (roundels) from the illustrations of the Cayman Islands flags. The MoD had decided, in consultation with the College of Arms, that the badges on many British flags were too small for identification. Here are some guidelines from the Protocol Office’s working guideline:
As the national ensign, the flag should always be treated with the due respect and deference which any such national symbol deserves. This includes not–
flying it at night (unless it is illuminated),
flying it in inclement/harsh weather (though it can get wet in the rain),
flying it in a worn or damaged condition or when soiled,
allowing it to touch the ground,
drawing on or decorating it,
flying it upside down (which is a sign of distress), or
using it for any purpose other than a flag.
No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of fire officers, police officers, prison officers, and members of military and veteran organisations.
The national flag should be flown daily – from 6am to 6pm – at all Government buildings, offices, schools and official places of business. Flags flown must at all times be of good condition.
HOW TO FLY FLAGS: National flags should be displayed only in a dignified manner befitting national emblems. No one needs permission to fly national flags and they should be flown daily from sunrise to sunset.
The proper flag to fly on land in the Cayman Islands is the blue ensign. At sea, Cayman Islands-registered vessels should fly the red ensign. Foreign vessels should fly this flag as a courtesy when in local waters.
The appropriate size of flag for any flagstaff is a matter of aesthetics but, as a guide, a ground-level flagpole should have a flag whose length (its longer dimension) is no more than 1/3 of the pole’s height.
Flags should be raised quickly and lowered slowly. The senior flag should be raised first and lowered last, unless all flags can be raised and lowered simultaneously.
Faded or damaged flags should not be flown but instead destroyed. Flags should not be hung or displayed vertically. FLYING FOREIGN FLAGS: Foreign flags should only be flown with either the Cayman Islands flag or the Union Flag in the superior position.
Where other flags are flown side-by-side with the national flag, the Cayman Islands flag should take the position of honour. While the Union Flag is the senior flag of the Cayman Islands whenever it is displayed, in the absence of the Union Flag the national flag of the Cayman Islands assumes the senior role.
If the Union Flag, Cayman Islands flag and another national flag are all flown together, the Union Flag should be to the far left, the Cayman Islands flag should be to the immediate right of that flag, and any other national flag should be to the right of the Cayman Islands flag. If more than one foreign flag is flown, they should be ordered from left to right in alphabetical order. When multiple flags are to be flown, they should be arranged in the order of precedence:
When two or more flagstaffs are at the same level and parallel to each other, the superior one is to the left, when viewing the flags from outside the building.
If three flagstaffs are at the same level, the centre flagstaff can also be used for the position of honour, especially if it is closer to an observer viewing the flags from outside the building (i.e. the flagstaffs are not in one straight line).
If any flagstaff is higher than the others, that flagstaff is used for the position of honour or can be left empty and the remaining flagstaffs used.
On a flagstaff with a yardarm (which has multiple limbs on one staff), the left limb is superior to the right when viewed from outside the building, and the top position is superior to both.
When two poles are crossed, the position of honor is the flag that ends on the left side from the point of view of an observer (the pole will therefore end on the right).
In a semi-circle, the superior flagstaff is in the centre. Other flags should be placed in the order of precedence with the next flag on the left of the central flag, the next on the right of the central flag, the next on the 2nd left from the central flag, and continuing to alternate left and right.
In an enclosed circle of flags, the position of honour is the flagstaff immediately opposite the main entrance to the venue and remaining flags should be arranged as with a semi-circle or, alternatively, in the order of precedence going clockwise.
No two national flags are to be flown one above the other on a single flagstaff. If only one flagstaff is available, the two flags must be bent onto the halyard at the same point, so that they fly side-by-side. It is permissible to fly the same national flag on more than one flagpole by repeating the order of precedence. When displayed from a flagstaff on a speaker’s platform, the senior flag should be placed on the right-hand side of the speaker, and therefore to the audience’s left.
The Protocol Office advises on protocol and etiquette in relation to national symbols and emblems.
For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the Chief of Protocol, Ms. Meloney Syms, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 244-3612 / 916-2913.