The three poles in New Palace Yard were officially unveiled by the Speaker on 8 March 2021 in a ceremony to celebrate Commonwealth Day and International Women’s Day.
On most days, the Union flag will fly from all three flagpoles. The flagpoles will also be used to celebrate or mark significant national events, such as Armed Forces Day, Pride in London and Lancashire Day. On their national days, the flags of the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will also be flown from the flagpoles.
The Speaker regularly meets with international dignitaries and visitors, a key component of his role in leading the UK’s parliamentary diplomacy. When these meetings take place at the House of Commons, the flag of their country will also be flown.
Criteria for flying flags
The Speaker approves which flags will fly and decisions are based on the following criteria:
- They must celebrate or commemorate an event of national or international significance, which is likely to resonate with the vast majority of parliamentarians and the British public.
- They must fall within one of the following categories:
- An event of constitutional or democratic significance
- Commemoration of major loss of life
- A centenary or other major anniversary of a significant national event
- Exceptional national achievement
- Solidarity with another Parliament at a time of major crisis
- Visits to the House of Commons by ambassadors, high commissioners and parliamentarians from other countries
- not be linked to a party political or campaigning issue, be obviously contentious, or risk reputational or diplomatic damage
- not portray commercial imagery or generate a commercial advantage
House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle
‘I want to fly the Union flag proudly at the main entrance to Parliament so that when people visit us, they can sense our hospitality from the moment they pass through Carriage Gates and into New Palace Yard - so flying other flags next to ours, sends that important message of welcome’