Sutherland’s sailors raise the flag for their county

Sailors from HMS Sutherland made a round-trip of nearly 1,400 miles to help natives of their namesake Scottish county unveiling the region’s new flag.

The leaders of Sutherland decided the huge county – which stretches from Cape Wrath, whose rocky ranges are regularly pummelled by the Fighting Clan’s 4.5in gun, to the Dornoch Firth on the east coast – needed a new banner.

There was a public backlash against the original design (a weeping eagle on a yellow background with three stars) prompting a rethink and a public vote.

Three out of ten of the 3,000 people who took part in the vote plumped for the design held aloft by CPO(UW) Paul Underdown and LS(UW) Connor Borland: a white flag with a black Nordic Cross (to mark the region’s Viking heritage), crossed with a black Scottish Saltire and a yellow sun.

This flag literally says: this is a unique place in Scotland; the place being where Vikings and the ancient people of Scotland met and fought.

Phillip Tibbits

The flag was presented for the first time at the Highland Council offices in Drummuie by Phillip Tibbits an Honorary Vexillologist (flag expert) of the Court of Lord Lyon, veteran matelots, and Sutherland’s political representatives.

“This flag literally says: this is a unique place in Scotland; the place being where Vikings and the ancient people of Scotland met and fought,” Mr Tibbits explained.

It was raised outside the building by a ceremonial party comprising HMS Sutherland sailors and RNA members.

“I’m sure our captain and the ship’s company will be proud to fly the flag when we conduct a Replenishment at Sea. It’s a fantastic design with a bright vibrant colours,” said CPO Underdown.

In addition to the flag unveiling ceremony, the sailors took the opportunity to visit Dunrobin Castle, the historic seat of the Duke of Sutherland, and meet the local community before returning to their frigate in Devonport.