The British Virgin Islands are a cluster of islands in the Caribbean Sea. In 1956, the British Virgin Islands officially adopted their flag. As a territory of the United Kingdom, the flag represents the relationship between Great Britain and the British Virgin Islands.
The official flag has a blue base. In the top left hand corner of the flag is the flag of the United Kingdom, more commonly known as “Union Jack.” In the middle of the right side of the flag is the Coat of Arms of the British Virgin Islands.
Union Jack represents three separate crosses that have been forged together. The flag also, at its inception, united the flags of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The flag of Scotland sits at the base with a blue background and the white cross of Saint Andrew, which sits with its ends in the corners. On top of the white diagonal cross sits a red diagonal cross. This cross comes from the Ireland flag and represents the cross of Saint Patrick. On top of both of these crosses, its ends stretching from top to bottom and side to side, is the flag of England. The flag of England was a red cross that represents the Cross of Saint George.
The Coat of Arms, which sits in the middle of the right hand half of the flag, is a green shield with Saint Ursula in the middle surrounded by eleven oil lamps. Below the shield on waved banner is the word “Vigilante.” It is believed that the Coat of Arms originated from the time when Christopher Columbus found the British Islands in 1493. It is rumored that the islands were reminiscent of Saint Ursula and her followers.
The green background of the shield is thought to represent a field. Saint Ursula is dressed all in white and is holding one oil lamp and surrounded by ten other lamps. Legend has it that Saint Ursula led a pilgrimage across Europe with 11,000 virgin handmaidens. Therefore, the oil lamps represent her handmaidens that led. There is one oil lamp per 1,000 handmaidens. The text below the shield “Vigilante” is Latin. Translated it means “Be Watchful.”
The governor of British Virgin Islands flies a different flag. His flag is the original Union Jack flag with the Coat of Arms of the British Virgin Islands in its center.