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Flag protocol

Apr 01, 2017

On a mast or pole

The flag of honor, which is the nation's flag in most cases, is flown on the center mast if possible. It is also correct to fly the flag on its own right. To an observer it would be on the far left. If more than three flags are used, the proper position is as far left from the point of view of an observer. An additional flag may be placed on the right side, but is not necessary.

When two poles are crossed, the position of honor is the flag that ends on the left side from the point of view of an observer (the pole will therefore end on the right).

In a semicircle, the position of honor is the center. If a full circle is used outside an entrance to an arena or stadium, the position of honor is directly over the entrance. If used to line the walls of the arena, the flag should be placed directly opposite the entrance.

Hanging

When flown horizontally, as from a flag pole, the flag should be oriented so that the canton is closest to the top of the pole. If hung against a wall, the canton should be placed in the upper-left corner from the point of view of the observer.

When hung vertically, flags should be rotated so the canton is again closest to the top of the pole. If the flag is displayed against a wall, the canton should again appear in the upper-left corner, which requires that the flag be both rotated and "flipped" from its horizontal orientation.

Other places

On a vehicle the flag should be put on a window or affixed securely to the front of the chassis, on the nearside of the vehicle, i.e. the one opposite the driver. (In other words, in countries that drive on the right hand side of the road, a flag is on the right of the vehicle.) On a vehicle where a visiting Head of State or Government is sharing a car with the host Head of State or Government, the host's flag takes the nearside position, the guest's flag on the offside.

When placed with a podium or at a place of worship, the flag should hang directly behind or on a pole to the right of the speaker, from the point of view of the flag.

When carried in single file, the flag of honor leads.

Multiple flags

When flags of many nations are flown the flag of the hosting country should be placed on the right with the rest following in alphabetical order in the language of the host country.

On a helicopter

Sometimes in a ceremonial flypast, a flag is flown from a weighted rope dangling from beneath a helicopter.