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Friday, March 6, 1998 Published at 22:33 GMT


Union Flag flies at Palace
image: [ The Union Jack will fly at the Palace when the Sovereign is away ]
The Union Jack will fly at the Palace when the Sovereign is away

The Union Flag is flying at full mast from Buckingham Palace for the first time in a move prompted by the death of the Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Queen has ruled that the Union Flag will fly at the top of the Palace masthead, 24 hours a day, when she is not there.

Previously, tradition dictated that no flag flew when Her Masjesty was not in residence.

[ image: The Royal Standard is never flown at half-mast]
The Royal Standard is never flown at half-mast
The Royal Standard is normally flown at full mast wherever the Queen is in residence as a symbol of the continuity of the Monarchy.

The Queen's decision was taken last month. A Palace spokesman admitted that the death of the Princess of Wales was the catalyst for the change.

During Diana's funeral, the Union Flag was flown for the first time at half-mast from the Palace as a sign of respect after a public outcry.

Constitutional experts welcomed the move as recognition of Buckingham Palace as the 'People's Palace' and a further sign that the monarchy was adapting to changing times.

Union Flags at other royal castles - at Dover and Walmer in Kent, and at Hampton Court Palace - will also now fly for 24 hours a day when no member of the Royal Family is in residence.

At Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh, the Royal Arms of Scotland - with lion rampant - will fly at full mast.

Curiously, a Union Flag has always flown full mast and around the clock at Windsor Castle and the Tower of London when the Queen is away. The new ruling brings other royal residences into line.

There are no flagpoles at St James's Palace and Kensington Palace, Diana's former London residence, so no flags will be flown.

The Royal Standard is never lowered to half-mast as a sign that the Sovereign never dies.

When the Queen passes away, her son the Prince of Wales immediately becomes Sovereign as King Charles III and the Standard flies in his name.

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