Holyrood EU flag flies with wrong number of stars

The flag of Europe flying with a missing star outside the Scottish Parliament. Picture: PA
The flag of Europe flying with a missing star outside the Scottish Parliament. Picture: PA
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The Flag of Europe outside the Scottish Parliament has been replaced after it was spotted flying with just 11 stars.

• EU flag’s 12 stars symbolise the unity of the people of Europe

• 12th star possibly blew away in the wind.

The symbolic circle of European unity was broken yesterday, with Parliament staff suspecting that the 12th star had blown away in the wind.

The flag dates back to 1955 and the 12 stars symbolise the unity, solidarity and harmony of all of the people of Europe, not just the European Union (EU) or its institutions.

Early designs reflected the 15 states of the Council of Europe (CoE) at the time, but these were rejected in favour of a more politically neutral number.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “The stars on our EU flag are sewn on to the fabric rather than printed, and it’s possible that one came adrift in the wind.

“Flags are replaced due to wear and tear, and a replacement with all 12 stars firmly in place is now flying at Holyrood.”

The European Parliament and European Commission (EC) offices in Edinburgh declined to comment directly on the missing star.

An EC spokeswoman said: “It is not for the Commission to comment on the missing star. However, we should point out that it is a popular misconception that the European flag is, in some way, owned by the EU.

“In fact the flag dates back to 1955, when it was adopted by the Council of Europe (CoE) as a symbol of European unity, with a circle of gold stars to represent solidarity and harmony between the peoples of Europe.

“The CoE is a 47-member international organisation dealing with human rights and rule of law, embracing not only the current members of the EU but many other central/eastern European and Russian Federation countries.

“The CoE encourages the wide private and public use of the European flag to symbolise a European dimension.”

The flag’s design was approved by the CoE in 1955 with the following heraldic and symbolic description: “On a field azure a circle of twelve golden mullets, their points not touching.

“Against the blue sky of the Western world, the stars represent the peoples of Europe in a circle, a symbol of unity. Their number shall be invariably set at twelve, the symbol of completeness and perfection.”