The most common flag of Dhekelia, a British territory located on the island of Cyprus, is not the Union Jack of the island itself but rather a plain green background with two gold lions, one one top of the other, on the left of the flag. The lions are depicted in a visibly medieval style, with rough stylized drawings of the lions themselves rather than any attempt at realism, as a reference to the coat of arms of King Richard I, who conquered and created the Kingdom of Cyprus, where Dhekelia is located.
While the green flag with gold lions is not the official flag of Dhekelia, most residents recognize its importance in their culture and continue using it. The official flag of Cyprus (a blue background, Union Jack in the upper left hand corner, and two red lions similar in style to the two gold lions of the Dhekelia flag) has some similar features, especially the two stacked and stylized lion images from Richard I’s coat of arms, but it is more common to see the green and gold flag of Dhekelia being flown in any given location.
The gold lions are not just limited to this unofficial flag – the design is a motif that appears frequently in clubs and organizations around the military base at (as well as residential areas surrounding) Dhekelia. With its distinguished place in the history of one of England’s most famous rulers Richard I, flags on Cyprus make it a point to celebrate their history, and the two gold lions of the so called “Richard the Lionheart” are a clear indication of this celebration. Richard has firmly established his place in history as the king whose absence is the setting for the adventures of Robin Hood and whose return ends the reign of his evil brother John; with such a notable figure playing such a large part in their region’s history, it is very clear why Dhekelia would choose to put such a high level of importance on imagery associated with King Richard I.
With its distinctive design and clear evocation of history, the unofficial flag of Dhekelia – the one in widest and most common use – is one celebrating the region’s unique and fascinating past. With its two lions seen frequently across the area, Dhekelia’s flag creates a motif common in the region and an image familiar to all its residents.