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Governor General of South Africa

Last modified: 2005-04-23 by
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[flag of the Governor-General of South Africa] by Blas Delgado Ortiz,14 May 2002, after image sent by Mike Oettle, 7 May 2002 See also:

Background to the flags of the Governor-General of South Africa (1910-1961)

When the Union of South Africa came into being on 31 May 1910, it was as a self-governing Dominion within the British Empire.  Britain was represented in South Africa by a Governor-General who was also High Commissioner and whose responsibilities extended to the adjacent colonies of Basutoland and Swaziland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate.  It was then considered that these territories might, at some future date, be incorporated into the Union of South Africa.

South Africa remained a Dominion until 1961 when, following a referendum amongst the whites-only voters, it became a republic on 31 May and later withdrew from the British Commonwealth.  With the change to a republican form of government, the office of the Governor-General was abolished and a President became the Head of State. A distinctive flag for the President was also adopted to replace the flag of the Governor-General.  This flag followed the design of the former Governor-General's flag in that it was also blue with the South African coat of arms in the centre, ensigned with the letters SP in gold.
Bruce Berry

Here are images scanned from National and Provincial Symbols by F G Brownell (Chris van Rensburg Publications) of the Union Jack flag of the Governor-General of South Africa (as used in the first two decades of the Union of South Africa) and of the coat of arms emblem in the roundel at the centre of the flag.
Brownell is the recently retired State Herald of South Africa.
Mike Oettle, 7 May 2002

I understand this is the predecessor of the 1931-1953 Governor-General's flag, with royal crest and "Union of South Africa", "Unie van Suid-Afrika" scrolls on blue field.
At what precise date, along 1931, was the latter flag introduced?
Santiago Dotor, 13 May 2002

The Governor-General of South Africa flew a flag with the Tudor Crown Royal Crest on a dark blue field from 1931-1953 and thereafter with a St. Edward's Crown Royal Crest from 1953 until 30 May 1961. The crest was between two scrolls inscribed with the name of the country in both official languages, "Union of South Africa" (English) above and "Unie van Suid-Afrika" (Afrikaans) below (see illustration below).

This design for the flags of the Governors-General followed the Balfour Declaration of 1926 which reflected the move towards greater self-determination and sovereignty and defined in general terms the constitutional relationship between Great Britain and the self-governing dominions.   In the words of the Declaration, Great Britain and the dominions were "equal in status, and in no way subordinate to one another".  These sentiments were later embodied in the Statute of Westminster (December 1931).  Subsequently King George V decided that the flags of the Governors-General of all the Dominions should be adapted to indicate more clearly their changed function as his personal representatives. The introduction of this new flag coincided with the arrival of a new Governor-General, the Earl of Clarendon, in South Africa. The Earl was sworn in on 26 January 1931 in Cape Town,  following which the new flag would have been flown. Prior to this, as correctly surmised by Santiago, the Governor-General flew a British Union flag charged in the centre with the full South African arms between 31 May 1910 and 1931.
Bruce Berry, 14 May 2002

And this should be the famous acacia wreath typical of British South Africa flags, briefly referred on our page <nz_gov.html>. 
António Martins-Tuválkin, 16 May 2002

The caption to the GG flag notes that the St Edward’s crown came into use under Queen Elizabeth; previously it had been the Tudor crown. So technically there were three different Governor-General's flags for South Africa:

Mike Oettle, 22 May 2002


Emblem of the Governor-General

[Governor-General's emblem] sent by Mike Oettle, 7 May 2002

Flag of the Governor-General (1931-1953)

[Governor General 1931-1953 flag] by Željko Heimer, 24 Mar 2003

South Africa 1931-1953 (two scrolls, bilingual) - image after 'Flags of The World' by Bill Yenne, Published by Bison Books, Copyright 1993.
Željko Heimer, 26 Mar 2003
 


Flag of the Governor-General (1953-1961)

[Governor General 1953-1961 flag] by Željko Heimer, 26 Mar 2003

South Africa 1953-1961 (two scrolls, bilingual) - image after 'Flags of The World' by Bill Yenne, Published by Bison Books, Copyright 1993.
Željko Heimer, 24 Mar 2003


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