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King’s College flag had makeshift beginning

Former King's student David Robinson recalls designing the university's flag

3 min read
caption The official flag of The University of King's College flies at the top of the campus’s flag mast
Robert Bartley-Crossley
The official flag of The University of King's College flies at the top of the campus’s flag mast
caption The official flag of The University of King’s College flies at the top of the campus’s flag mast
Robert Bartley-Crossley

David Robinson is a man who takes flag etiquette seriously.

During his time in the Canadian Navy, he was taught the correct flag protocol and is amazed by how often it is disregarded.

In the 1980s, his expertise gave him the chance to design a flag for his school, the University of King’s College.

At the time, he was a cadet in the naval reserve and a student at King’s.

Knowing the correct etiquette for flags, he couldn’t help but notice people violating it. In particular, the flag mast near the Halifax City Hall parade ground consistently bothered him.

Robinson was a friend of then president of King’s, John Godfrey, who had personally recruited him to the school.

One morning, Godfrey asked him what was bothering him.

“They’re flying the flags incorrectly,” Robinson replied. “The national flag is in wrong place. It shouldn’t be at the top.”

“Then, what should fly at the top?” Godfrey asked. Robinson explained that it should be the flag of the person or organization directly in command.

Godfrey thought about this a moment, and said, “If Kings had a flag, where would that fly?”

“In the same place.”

“Well maybe we should get a flag. Could you design one?”

Robinson had recently designed a patch for the HMCS Halifax, and he felt up to this challenge. He made three designs based on the college’s official crest, which Godfrey turned down.

Robinson recalls, “John Godfrey sort of grimaced, shuffled them around and said, ‘This isn’t really what I had in mind. I wanted something regal, something royal, something that will stand out.’”

There was another crest, however, an unofficial one that had been in existence since the 1860s. This crest included elements of the Royal Crest of England.

He adapted that into his flag and added elements from the Royal Crest of Scotland. When he presented this, Godfrey loved it.

Robinson remembers waking up and seeing his flag flying in the quad from his dorm window.

“Of course I was delighted.”

However, Godfrey was positively overjoyed. “He was so proud. Like a kid with a new toy at Christmas.”

Though many years have passed, David Robinson still has fond memories of his time at King’s, and is very proud of his flag.

“It’s great that it’s still flying, although I did perpetuate the continuance of a very incorrect coat of arms.”

However incorrect it may be, Robinson’s flag still flies in the quad today, his contribution to the university’s history.

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