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Speaker Hoyle marks historic first by raising flags in the House

8 March 2021

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The Union flag is flying from a new position in the House of Commons for the first time – on Commonwealth Day.

Three flag poles have been installed in New Palace Yard to enable the House to also fly the flags of other nations, when their representatives visit Parliament.

The flagpoles were unveiled officially today (8 March) in a special socially distanced ceremony led by the Commons Speaker to celebrate Commonwealth Day.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle was joined by senior politicians in the half-hour event, which culminated in the unfurling of the Union flag, the flag of the Commonwealth, and one to mark International Women’s Day.

The raising of the Commonwealth flag follows a tradition that takes place across its 54 nations

The idea originated from the Speaker, who wants the House to be as welcoming as possible to the British people and dignitaries from overseas.

"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," he said.

"I can think of no better moment to raise our first flag than on Commonwealth Day – the date when we celebrate our friendship and connection with the Commonwealth of nations."

While flags are flown from Portcullis House and the Victoria Tower in Parliament, there have never been flagpoles set up in New Palace Yard, which provides a much more visible vantage point for visitors to the Palace.

Sir Lindsay plans to use the new facility to also fly flags to celebrate or mark significant national events, such as Armed Forces Day, Pride in London and United Nations Day.

The raising of the Commonwealth flag on Monday followed a tradition that takes place across its 54 nations, with some member countries celebrating on a public holiday.

Exhibition of photos and stories from MPs and staff who have roots to the Commonwealth

To involve the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay has curated a physical and virtual exhibition of photos and stories from MPs and staff who have roots to the Commonwealth.

"We are proud of the people who work here, and I want to celebrate their heritage with them," he said.

"I also hope that by sharing their personal stories, others will be inspired to consider the House of Commons as a possible place to work."

The Speaker and Dawn Butler MP discuss the Commonwealth

The Speaker of the House of Commons chatted with Dawn Butler MP about what the Commonwealth means to her family

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