Union flag flown outside House of Commons for the first time to mark Commonwealth Day
Lindsay Hoyle said he hoped the flags would sent an " important message of welcome" to visitors (©UK Parliament/Roger Harris)
Three new flagpoles have been installed in New Palace Yard to allow the flag of the Union and other nations to be displayed outside the Commons for the first time.
The new additions to the estate were unveiled by Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in a ceremony on Monday to celebrate Commonwealth Day.
During the ceremony, Grenadier Guards from Wellington Barracks raised the Union flag, the flag of the Commonwealth, and a flag to mark International Women’s Day were raised.
"I want to fly the Union flag proudly at the main entrance to Parliament so that when people visit us, they can sense our hospitality from the moment they pass through Carriage Gates and into New Palace Yard - so flying other flags next to ours, sends that important message of welcome," Hoyle said.
"I can think of no better moment to raise our first flag than on Commonwealth Day – the date when we celebrate our friendship and connection with the Commonwealth of nations."
The flag raising ceremony on Monday marked an international tradition observed by the 54 Commonwealth nations, which some members celebrate during a public holiday.
Historically, flags in Parliament have only ever been flown from Portcullis House and the Victoria Tower.
The new location for the flagpoles in New Palace Yard, which sits below Big Ben, was chosen as it provides a much more visible vantage point for visitors to the Palace.
It is expected that the flags will also be raised to mark other significant events such as Pride, Armed Forces Day and United Nations Day.
In addition to the Commonwealth Day flag raising, the Speaker has curated an exhibition of photos and stories from MPs and staff with links to the Commonwealth. It is called 'Roots to Parliament' and is displayed in Portcullis House, and online here.
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