26.6.09

Flying Saturday June 27, 2009.

Today is Armed Forces Day in the United Kingdom. I have selected the historical flag known as that of King Richard I, Richard the Lionheart. It will be flying in Vernon Street from 8 am !

Veterans' Day in the United Kingdom (UK) is an annual event celebrated on 27 June to commemorate the service of men and women in British Armed Forces. Veterans' Day was first observed in 2006. From 2009, there will now be Armed Forces Day celebrations held on the same day, to celebrate the achievements of those currently serving in the armed forces.

The flag of Richard I. Three leopards passant. In heraldic terms these are leopards, not lions. I am unable to establish how or if the colouring relates to King Richard, as often the leopards are shown against a red background.

Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death in 1199. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Ireland, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period. He was known as Cœur de Lion or, Richard the Lionheart, even before his accession, because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior.

This image of Richard is erroneously labelled as Edward. The coats of arms of the Duchy of Normandy and Duchy of Aquitaine, show the source of the three leopards passant.

At age 16, Richard was already commanding his own army, putting down rebellions in Poitou against his father, King Henry II. Richard was a central Christian commander during the Third Crusade, effectively leading the campaign after the departure of Philip Augustus, and scoring considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin

While he spoke very little English and spent very little time in his Kingdom, preferring to use it as a source of revenue to support his armies, he was seen as a pious hero by his subjects. He remains one of the very few Kings of England remembered by his epithet, not number, and is an enduring, iconic figure in England.

In the early evening of 25 March 1199, Richard was walking around the perimeter of the Château de Chalus-Chabrol, a castle now in Haute-Vienne, France. He was without his chainmail, investigating the progress of sappers on the castle walls. Arrows were occasionally shot from the castle walls, but these were given little attention. One defender in particular amused the king greatly — a man standing on the walls, crossbow in one hand, the other clutching a frying pan which he had been using all day as a shield to beat off missiles. He deliberately aimed an arrow at the king, which the king applauded. However, another arrow then struck him in the left shoulder near the neck. He tried to pull this out in the privacy of his tent but failed; a surgeon, called a 'butcher' by Hoveden, removed it, 'carelessly mangling' the King's arm in the process. The wound swiftly became gangrenous. Accordingly, Richard asked to have the crossbowman brought before him; the man turned out to be a boy. This boy claimed that Richard had killed the boy's father and two brothers, and that he had shot Richard in revenge. The boy expected to be executed; Richard, as a last act of mercy, forgave the boy of his crime, saying, "Live on, and by my bounty behold the light of day," before ordering the boy to be freed and sent away with 100 shillings. Richard then set his affairs in order, bequeathing all his territory to his brother John and his jewels to his nephew Otto.


Richard's heart was buried at Rouen in Normandy. His brain was buried at the abbey of Charroux in Poitou, and the rest of his body was buried at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.

Possibly one of the most seen Kings of England on the BBC TV News, Richard rides defiantly outside the Palace of Westminster.

The three leopards passant still appear on the shield of the coat of arms of Queen Elizabeth II, as shown here on the English £1 coin, and in part on the smaller coins, issued in 2008.