Oops! It looks like somebody at Downing Street is about to get fired. At a trade agreement signing ceremony between Premier Wen Jiabao, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.K. Trade Secretary Lord Mandelson, the Union Jack was flown upside down.
Non-Brits not familiar with the flag might not have noticed, but some of the white bars are thicker. Those thick ones are supposed to be facing up.
Said Mike Kearsley of the U.K.’s Flag Institute:
“One part of me is concerned that we don’t recognise and understand our own flag but another part of me is amused that it’s a terribly British thing to do.
“You would think people in Downing Street would recognise it because they see the flag so often. Many places in government these days have people working from overseas and maybe they don’t understand.
“If we had flown the Chinese flag upside down it could have been quite a diplomatic problem.”
Most alarmingly, Kearsley pointed out, a Union Jack flown upside down actually means something. And not something positive.
Mr Kearsley said: “Having the flag upside down historically was a sign of distress. You might have it put it up on a fort to warn those in the know – other British forces – that there was trouble from the enemy.
“Forces from other nations wouldn’t have noticed. It was like a sort of code.”
Trying to tell us your real feelings about the trade agreement your signing, eh Mr. Brown?