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British Commonwealth Games

Last modified: 2021-08-26 by zachary harden
Keywords: british empire | commonwealth of nations | commonwealth games | international organization |
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British Commonwealth Games Flag
image by Dean Thomas, 18 May 2002

See also:

Origin of the flag

The British Commonwealth Games Association of Canada donated the flag for it's first use in Edinburgh, 1970, at the IX British Commonwealth Games.
Purely for asthetic reasons, the flag color was set at Royal Blue (with no fancy border as in the previous flag), and the chain configuration was changed from Pentagonal to Oval.
(Source: Commonwealth Games Council of England )
Dean Thomas,
17 May 2002

An interesting point is that by 1970 the games were no longer called the British Empire & Commonwealth Games, but rather the British Commonwealth Games. Indeed, the flag in the exhibit shows an extra layer of cloth has been added to hide the original lettering and replace it with BCG. We're seeing the reverse, whereas the first photograph showed the obverse; as the letterings are readable in both photographs, it would seem likely it's in obverse on both sides in both the original and the modified versions.
We have it that the blue BCG flag was donated for use in Edinburgh. The only way for both these flags to have been used in Edinburgh, AFAICS, would be that the blue, less-fancy, design was a rush-job, created as a replacement for the flag that had been stolen.
Either way, the next games, Christchurch 1974, had the blue flag. Footage from the opening ceremony shows the blue stadium flag with BCF below the crown. Both sides are visible and they show the lettering is in obverse on both sides.
The 1974 games did have a games flag, multiple specimen of which can be seen flying from poles on the rim of the stadium. The flags appear to be in 1:2 ratio, with the flyward half depicting the games logo. The hoistward half appears white, but in the shots I've seen the flags are too far away to determine whether there maybe is any writing on it.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 15 February 2015

I thought myself the definitive expert on the flags of the Commonwealth Games and did not know about the theft of the flag, and its conversion for Edinburgh 1970.... Talk about a delated ego.
Dean Thomas, 16 February 2015

Well, I don't think there are definite experts; there's always something you don't know. So much information is becoming accessible now, that any expert will continue to learn previously unavailable information. But I hope you, as the foremost expert, are still the editor of those four pages and are willing to check how the parts about the Cardiff flag with in with what we have.
To add to the confusion of the crowns: A 1958 stamp shows a flagoid with the queen in the flag and a Cardiff games emblem in the hoist. That version does indeed have type of crown used in the British Empire Games flag. (Comparing them I am able to keep them apart, though I still don't recall what name goes with what.)
Does that mean a change was decided on between the design of the 1958 logo or the stamp, and the hoisting of the flag? No, I'd say it's more that that style was still used for the emblems and medals. It's odd that they were if the flag did change, though.
But the whole thing does suggest that this one is not the Vancouver flag at all, but a new flag, the Cardiff flag. There's a certain logic to that, as between the name change and Cardiff, a new Queen started using a new crown. And comparing the texts, it turns out that that's what it says at "The British Empire & Commonwealth Games Flag seen above was first used in 1958 ...".
I don't know the exact dates, so could an expert in the field add here under what monarch the Vancouver Games were held? It would appear dating the flags and games by year doesn't cut it in this case. We may have to give a very precise chronology of games, flags, and the events changing them, to get everything to fit in correctly.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 February 2015


The British Commonwealth Games came about when the meeting of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games Federation during the XIII Games at Kingston (Jamaica), voted to drop the word "Empire" from the Games title, reflecting the continuing transformation of the old British Empire into a Commonwealth of independent nations and dominions.
Reflecting the transition from the old British Empire to the new British Commonwealth, the Tudor (or "Imperial") Crown in the Games Seal was replaced by the St. Edward's Crown, which Queen Elizabeth II had adopted after she assumed the throne. The St. Edwards Crown reflected the fact that the British Monarch no longer ruled over a vast Empire.

British Commonwealth Games Seal

BCG Seal 
image by Dean Thomas, 22 May 2002

The St. Edwards Crown and the lettering were the only changes made to the seal when the name change took place. Even though the name change took place during the 1966 Kingston Games, it was too late to change the medals and other items used at the 1966 Games to reflect the new title. It was not until the next Games (at Edinburgh) that this seal configuration was used.
Dean Thomas, 22 May 2002