Sir Lindsay's historic St. George's Day flag-raising at Westminster

Chorley MP and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle marked St. George's Day by overseeing the raising of the Cross of St. George at the main entrance to Parliament.

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 2:23 am
Updated Monday, 26th April 2021, 9:06 am

It is now flying from flagpoles at the House of Commons, in New Palace Yard, for the first time - exactly 360 years since the coronation of Charles II.

On 23rd April back in 1661, the location would have borne witness to the new sovereign arriving from Westminster Abbey to take part in a banquet at Westminster Hall.

That day, the 11th century hall was filled with music, dancing and a huge feast to celebrate an historic event - the return of a monarch to the throne, marking the end of England’s short period as a republic.

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle (front centre) and Nigel Evans MP (front right) at a ceremony to raise the Cross of St. George outside Parliament (image: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

Only 12 years earlier, Westminster Hall had been the site of one of the most momentous events in the country’s history – the trial of Charles I, father of Charles II, for treason, which resulted in his execution, following his failure to win two civil wars.

This period of history marked the start of the fateful entanglement between the House of Commons with the sovereign, when in 1642, Charles I entered the Chamber, in an attempt to seize five MPs whom he accused of plotting against him.

When Charles asked Speaker William Lenthall the location of the five, he famously replied: ‘I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place, but as this House is pleased to direct me.’

It was the first time in English history that a Speaker of the House of Commons had successfully defied the King to uphold the privileges of Parliament.

Current Speaker Sir Lindsay said after the flag raising said he was proud to have been involved.

"To [fly the flag] 360 years since the coronation of Charles II, whose father locked horns with the then Speaker of the House of Commons, is particularly significant.

"I am also proud that the flagpoles, that were installed last month, stand at the entrance to Parliament. The king would have walked directly across where the flagpoles are situated and into Westminster Hall for his coronation banquet at the Restoration of the Monarchy."

Sir Lindsay was joined at the event by one of the deputy speakers, Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans.