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About the Scottish Parliament

Parliament policies



Flag-flying

These guidelines apply to the Scottish Parliament. 

Flags to be flown

The Saltire, Union Flag and European flag will be flown daily and will meet the requirements of the listed dates below.

  • European Day – 9 May
  • Official celebration of Her Majesty’s The Queen's birthday, usually the second Saturday in June
  • Official opening of the Scottish Parliament
  • Remembrance Day, usually the second Sunday in November
  • St Andrew’s Day, 30 November

In addition to the daily flags the Commonwealth flag, the Armed Forces flag and the United Nations flag will be flown on the listed dates below

  • Commonwealth Day, usually the second Monday in March
  • The Armed Forces flag will be flown on Armed Forces Day, usually the last Saturday in June
  • United Nations Day, 24 October

Flying of other flags

No other flags will be flown unless in exceptional circumstances where a case is made to and approved by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).

Superior position

The Scottish Parliament has flag poles all of the same height and the superior position is the central pole.  The next superior position is the flag pole to the left of centre flag pole viewed from Horse Wynd towards the front of the building, followed by the flag pole to the right of the central flag pole.

Position of flags

The Saltire must be flown in the superior position, with the Union flag in the second superior position and the European flag in the third.  Any additional flags to be flown, approved by the SPCB, will be flown in the fourth and fifth superior positions dependent on importance.

How the Union Flag should be flown

The broader diagonal white stripe should be at the top left hand side of the flag nearest the flagpole.

Her Majesty The Queen present in the Scottish Parliament

The Royal Arms of Scotland (the “Lion Rampant”) is The Queen’s official banner in Scotland.  It will be hoisted when Her Majesty The Queen enters the Scottish Parliament building and will be lowered when The Queen departs.  It is not to be hoisted when The Queen is only passing in procession.  The Royal Arms of Scotland will be flown in the superior position with the Saltire in the second superior position, the Union Flag in the third and the European flag in the fourth.

Visits by heads of state 

On visits by heads of state, the appropriate flag of the visiting dignitary will be flown in the superior position with the Saltire in the second superior position, the Union Flag in the third and the European flag in the fourth.

Flying of flags at half-mast

“Half-mast” actually means that the flag is flown two-thirds up the flagpole. The occasions on which flags are to be flown at Half Mast are:

  1. From the announcement of the death up to the funeral of the Sovereign, except on specified times on Proclamation Day (the day the new Sovereign is proclaimed), when flags are flown at full-mast.
  2. The funerals of members of the Royal Family, subject to discussion with the Palace. 
  3. The day of the announcement of death, funeral and day of any motion of condolence for all serving Members of the Scottish Parliament.
  4. The day of the announcement of death, funeral and day of any motion of condolence for former Presiding Officers and former Scottish First Ministers.
  5. The day of the announcement of death and funeral for serving and former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom.

“Day of the announcement of death” means Parliament’s flags fly at half-mast until sunset, or if the death is announced after 1pm on the day, flags will also fly at half-mast on the following day.

The death and funeral of serving and former heads of state

In the event of the death and funeral of serving and former heads of state, flags may be flown at half-mast.

Changes and additions may be made to these arrangements by the SPCB, or at the discretion of the Presiding Officer, to reflect exceptional circumstances.