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Victoria (Australia)

Last modified: 2005-05-07 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: australia | victoria | crown | blue ensign | southern cross | stars: southern cross |
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[Flag of Victoria] by Jorge Candeias

See also:

Description of the flag

The Victorian state flag was created as a colonial flag - a British Blue Ensign with the badge of the colony added to the blue field. Because some of the Australian state badges were originaly created to represent the Governor (as distinct from the Colony) they generally showed some element of British royal heraldry - the main criteria being that it be different from similar badges used in other parts of the Empire. The Crown Victoria badge represented the status of the Governor as representative of Queen Victoria in the Colony. Victoria adopted the Southern Cross in 1870 initially for use on the HMCS Nelson - one of the early warships of the Colonial Navy. The Southern Cross had become fairly well associated with Australia during the 19th Century.
Ralph Kelly, 19 Sep 1999

Theoretically the Victorian badge [a crown above the five stars of the southern cross] was on a disc, but the disc was the same colour as the field, blue. This caused the British Admiralty some consternation, who suggested the Victorian badge should be redesigned as the southern cross on a blue shield on a white disc. In a rare display of independence (with respect to flags) the Victorian Government unilaterally approved the flag design anyway. Over the following decades, the southern cross "grew" outside of the nominal disc area, and eventually the pretence of the disc disappeared.
Brendan Jones, 07 Feb 1996

The number of points on the stars indicates the varying brightness of the stars which make up the Southern Cross. There are 8,7,7,6 and 5 points for Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon Crucis respectively. The Australian national flag was originally designed to also follow this pattern.
Colin Dobson and Jonathan Dixon, 5 Aug 2004

History of the Flag

Victoria adopted the Southern Cross in 1870 initially for use on the HMCS Nelson - one of the early warships of the Colonial Navy. The Southern Cross had become fairly well associated with Australia during the 19th Century.
Ralph Kelly, 19 Sep 1999

An official history from the State gives the original adoption date as 4 February 1870.
Christopher Southworth, 5 Sep 2004

From Australian Flags [ozf95]:

From 12 November 1877 the badge was changed to include an imperial crown above the Southern Cross. In 1901, with the accession of Edward VII, this crown was replaced with the crown of St Edward, and the flag has not changed since then.
See also these official sources:
Proclaimed 12 November, 1877; Government Gazette, No. 119, dated 30 November, 1877.
and Amended by Dispatch No.56, 19 September, 1901.
Colin Dobson, 5 Sep 2004

The official history from the State government contains a statement which (on the face of it) appears to be a mistake. It reads:

Following the accession of Edward VII the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria, The Honourable Sir John Madden K.C.M.G., informed the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 19th September 1901 , that henceforth the word 'State' would be used to in place of the world 'Colony', and that in the design of the state flag the St Edwards Crown would replace the Imperial Crown.
If this is accurate it would appear that the State of Victoria preceded (at least in theory) the general adoption of the St Edward's crown by some 50 odd years.
Christopher Southworth, 5 Sep 2005

The words quoted by Christopher Southworth are taken from the State Flag sheet from the Insignia folder produced by the Protocol Section of the Premiers Department of the State of Victoria - no date, but probably about 1985.

Like several other Australian state government insignia booklets, this document had significant errors, including that identified by Christopher. The document should have stated that the "Tudor Crown" would replace the "Imperial Crown", and it should then have further gone on to state that in 1953 the "St Edwards Crown" was adopted.

The relevant source is a Colonial Office despatch dated 14 June 1901 which requested that the use of the "Tudor Crown" be adopted throughout the colonies. The Governor General of Australia had earlier requested each of the State Governors to provide advice on whether any of the new states wished to change their seals or flag badges having regard to the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901 and the accession of King Edward VII. The Victorian Premier Alexander Peacock advised Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Madden (acting Governor) on 27 August 1901 that there needed to be only minor changes to the Seal and the change to the drawing of the Crown on the state badge. This advice was communicated to the Secretary of State for Colonies in the despatch quoted by Christopher and a similar letter to the Governor General.

Another error on the Insignia sheet was that Victoria's first Colonial warship was described as H.M.A.S. Nelson , when it should have been H.M.C.S. Nelson - one of Her Majesty's Colonial Ships, rather than an "Australian" ship. My copy of the publication had hand changed this error to the still erroneous H.M.V.S. Nelson!
Ralph Kelly, 6 Sep 2004

Apparently, in 1901, the "Tudor Crown" and "Imperial Crown" were not one and the same. It is strange that the title "Imperial Crown" has been transferred from the "St Edward's Crown", to the "Tudor Crown", when the former is similar in appearance to the "Imperial State Crown", while the "Tudor Crown" is not.
David Prother, 9 Sep 2004

See also: British crowns on flags

An image of the "Flag Badge" with Tudor Crown for use in Victoria, either on the State Flag (as shown), or within a dark blue shield on a white disc on the State Governor's Flag from 1901-53 was prepared by the British Admiralty in 1903.
Ralph Bartlett, 7 Sep 2004

This image has written on it "Badge as *amended* in 1903." [my emphasis] Was this the badge in use from 1901 and, if so, does anyone know why it might have been amended, rather than simply approved by the Admiralty in 1903?
Colin Dobson, 9 Sep 2004

The note by the 1877 shield badge indicates that it was approved in Admiralty letter 5301 of 1878. The badge has been scored through because it was no longer correct.

Written below and to one side of it is the note, "See Admy 29663 [over] 1901, General - Amended Badge" and again, "See Admy 29663 [over] 1901, (amended badge)"

Thus the round badge is that shown in 1903, but the correct version of the shield badge is in Admiralty letter 29663 of 1901.
David Prothero, 10 Sep 2004

State Governor

[Victoria Governor] by Dylan Crawfoot

Victoria State Governor used the defaced Union Flag. It changed to a defaced Orange Ensign in 1984.
David Prothero, 24 Feb 1997

The State Governor of Victoria flys a personal flag similar to the State Flag only with a gold (yellow) field and the stars in red.
Ted Cummins, 25 Feb 1997

The new Governor's flag was announced by the following official press release:

Governor's Flag
18 APRIL 1984

His Excellency the Governor, Rear Admiral Sir Brian Murray, today announced that Her Majesty The Queen had graciously approved of a change in the Personal Standard of the Governor of Victoria. From this day, the Governor's Personal Standard will be the State Flag of Victoria with the blue of the flag being replaced by gold. The new Standard will be flown at Government House and on vehicles conveying the Governor. The old Standard used by all Victorian Governors has been, since 1870, the Union Jack with the Badge of the State emblazoned in the centre thereof.
available on the website of the Governor of Victoria.
Ivan Sache, 30 Apr 2003

Martin Grieve notes that the Governor's website shows the stars as all having 7 poitns, unlike the Victorian flag, and Marc Pasquin observes that the same picture shows the crown as monochrome red, but Ralph Bartlett has provided a photograph taken in Government house on 28 July 1984, showing the crown in full colour and the stars as in the Victorian flag.
May 2003

The only states to not use the state flag with crown above the badge were Victoria and Queensland, which both already had a crown in the their badge.
Jonathan Dixon, 4 Aug 2004

See also: State governors' flags