The flag of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands between England and France, is a relatively recent flag in Europe. Its design and colors evoke the English and Norman connections of the island and its culture.
The flag has a white background overlaid by a red cross, with all four ends of the cross running to the edge of the flag. Inside the red cross is a smaller gold cross whose ends do not run to the edge of the flag; instead, the ends have a distinct flared edge. The red cross on the white background is the same as the English flag, or the cross of St. George, while the gold cross is similar to a symbol that William the Conqueror was supposed to have used. The gold cross is also called the Bayeux Tapestry cross because the Bayeux Tapestry was the artwork showing William the Conqueror holding a banner with that cross.
Guernsey used to use the English flag as its own, occasionally flying the flag of the United Kingdom in specific circumstances and locations. However, in 1985, Guernsey and England decided they needed different flags because using the same flag was too confusing. The final straw that precipitated the decision was a sporting match between Guernsey and England that saw both sides cheering the same flag. The Guernsey Flag Investigation Committee was born.
The committee decided to keep the English flag as the basic design — something that other islands in the Channel Islands group, such as Sark and Alderney, also do — and add the gold cross to form a bridge to the island’s Norman past. The final design was created by the deputy bailiff at the time, Graham Dorey. The flag was officially first used on February 15, 1985. The flag of the United Kingdom is still flown in specific circumstances.
The Guernsey flag represents both the island and Bailiwick, or an area of jurisdiction, of Guernsey, even though other islands in the Bailiwick have their own flags. There have been claims that Guernsey had an earlier flag back in the 19th century, but whether this flag was official is unknown.