Independence: Row over Glasgow 2014 Red Arrows

PROPOSALS for the Red Arrows to release smoke in the blue-and-white colours of Scotland’s Saltire at last night’s opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were ditched in favour of their traditional red, white and blue.

The Red Arrows Fly over the River Clyde to celebrate the opening of Glasgow 2014. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The plan, which is understood to have been dreamt up by a private company working for the Games organisers, was well enough advanced to feature in a media guide for the event.

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The programme distributed to press said that as the Braemar Ensemble of athletes greeted the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, the nine Hawks of the Red Arrows would “fly overhead in a V-formation trailing blue and white smoke”.

But the Glasgow 2014 organisers insisted that, while the proposal was discussed with the Red Arrows, no formal request for blue-and-white smoke was ever made.

And a source close to First Minister Alex Salmond said it was “absolutely, categorically, 100 per cent not the case” that anyone in the Scottish Government asked for the colours of the Saltire to be used.

A Glasgow 2014 spokesman said: “Glasgow 2014 would like to clarify that it was its ceremonies producers who had initial conversations about Red Arrows trailing blue-and-white smoke to represent the host nation’s Saltire but this was never formally requested.

“We were delighted with the participation of the Red Arrows who deployed their standard trail of red, white and blue in last night’s ceremony.”

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on reports that new Defence Secretary Michael Fallon had intervened to ensure that red, white and blue smoke was used.

“The Red Arrows are ambassadors for the United Kingdom and are famous for their red, white and blue smoke trails which represent the whole of the UK,” said an MoD spokesman. “The flypast was to celebrate the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth and the presence of Her Majesty so it was fitting that red, white and blue were used.”

A Scottish Government spokesman denied that it had requested that the Red Arrows use blue-and-white smoke.

The spokesman said: “The Scottish Government made no such approach regarding the Red Arrows, whose flypast was a spectacular highlight of a fantastic opening ceremony. Any claims to the contrary are completely untrue.

“Glasgow 2014, as organisers of the Games, independently contract a private company to organise and stage the opening and closing ceremonies. An approach was made by them to the MoD to explore whether it would be possible to have blue-and-white smoke in recognition of Scotland as the host Commonwealth nation. We believe that ultimately the UK Government did not want to proceed with this suggestion.”