War of 1812 Captured British Flag on Display at USNA

For the first time ever, you can get an in-person look at a huge British flag captured by the U.S. in the War of 1812.

The British Royal Standard in the 1900s

The British Royal Standard flag that flew over York in Toronto, will be on display Saturday, April 7, in Dahlgren Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Visitors can get a glimpse from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The event starts with a brief ceremony including music from the Naval Academy Band, and comments from the British and Canadian embassies.

It’s the first time since the 1880s that the flag can be seen in its entirety, at 35 by 25 feet. For more than 150 years, Congressional and Presidential directives have required USNA to preserve and exhibit captured flags.

    “Both Canada and England have things of ours in their museums,” said Berube. “This shows that we respect each other’s history and heritage and I think that’s particularly important,” said Claude Berube, Director of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. 

    The museum is responsible for preserving 60,000 items in its collection.

    A portion of the British Royal Standard was visible in an exhibit case at the Academy’s Mahan Hall for a century, until it was removed for curation.

“We preserve and show these things because they tell stories that are still relevant today,” said Charles Swift, Managing Director and Supervisory Museum Curator of U.S. Naval Academy Museum. “I think that’s the most important thing, that every one of these flags can be used to tell real stories about real people.”

After the ceremony the flag will go to a storage unit for preservation. USNA is still working on a long term conservation plan for all of the flags, given how large its collection is.

    The museum currently has more than 200 battle flags and a total flag collection of more than 600.

-Meg Walburn Viviano