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Previous Action

Made previous enquiries to Historic Scotland about replacing the Union Flag on “David’s Tower”, sometimes referred to as the Clock Tower, with the Saltire as this is the highest point on the castle. This specific position is however a “designated flag flying station” for the British Army. The proposal above is a compromise which allows for the Union Flag to continue to fly from that position, but ensures Scotland’s national flag is restored to the foremost position at the highest point on the Castle.

A number of MSPs have also taken up this issue and a number of parliamentary motions have been lodged on the subject but no action has emerged.

*S1M-2258 Christine Grahame: Saltire over Edinburgh Castle-That the Parliament notes that the British Army in its current recruiting campaign uses the Saltire to attract young Scots; welcomes the recognition of this, the most potent symbol of Scotland's nationhood, as a patriotic inspiration to Scots through the centuries, and therefore calls upon the Scottish Executive to make representations to the British Army that, in the interest of consistency, it should remove the Union Flag from the main flagpole at the army barracks on Edinburgh Castle and raise in its place the Saltire.
Supported by: Kay Ullrich*, Mr Kenneth Gibson*, Richard Lochhead*, Michael Russell*, Colin Campbell*, Fergus Ewing*, Ms Sandra White*, Fiona McLeod*, Mr Duncan Hamilton*, Mr Adam Ingram*, Ms Margo MacDonald*, Andrew Wilson* Shona Robison

Christine Grahame St. Andrews Day debate - Scottish Parliament Nov 2008

"Today, in commemoration of St Andrew's day, his flag is flying over Edinburgh castle, but not in pole position. The British Government, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, designated it as an official flag-flying station. The union flag therefore takes precedence. Yet, by the Scotland Act 1998, and by agreement between the Crown Estate commissioners and the Scottish Office, ownership of Edinburgh castle and other historic buildings transferred from the Crown to the Secretary of State for Scotland, and thence to the Scottish ministers. The transfer of 26 properties took place in 1999. Fact. Law. They included, inter alia, Edinburgh castle. The Government, through its ministers, is the owner, and is therefore landlord to the MOD. The MOD is our tenant. It is time the landlords—the Scottish people—told the tenants to take the union flag down and fly the saltire in its place, not only because it symbolises our nation and its patron saint, but because if it is good enough for recruiting Scots to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is good enough to fly all the year round."


The last we heard from the then Culture Minister was that they were carrying out a review of flag flying policy, this was at the end of 2007. This appears to have been knocked into the long grass. I do not believe that review has been completed.

I have recently asked Historic Scotland to clarify what they mean by "Special Arrangements" with regard to the issue of flags at Edinburgh Castle and what legal basis they have for these and await a response.