Shetland Flag Day in Scotland Date in the current year: June 21, 2024

Shetland Flag Day in Scotland Shetland Flag Day, sometimes referred to as simply Shetland Day, is celebrated in Shetland on June 21. This date wasn’t chosen to honor the patron saint of the Shetland Islands or to commemorate an important event in Shetland’s history; it was chosen simply because it is the longest day of the year.

The Shetland Islands, commonly called Shetland, is an archipelago in Northern Atlantic, situated between Great Britain, the Faroe Islands, and Norway. It is the northernmost part of Scotland and one of Scotland’s 32 council areas.

The archipelago consists of over a hundred islands, but only sixteen of them are inhabited. The largest of the inhabited islands is known as the Mainland. About a third of the total population of Shetland live in Lerwick, which is the only burgh in Shetland and the council area’s administrative center.

Shetland was first inhabited during the Prehistoric Era. Around the 3rd century BC, the archipelago came to be controlled by the kingdom of the Picts, which occupied most of northern Scotland. In the 9th century AD, the islands were conquered by vikings from Norway.

In the mid-13th century, King Alexander II of Scotland attempted to conquer the Western Isles (Outer Hybrids), along with other islands controlled by Norway (the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, and the Island of Man), which resulted in the Scottish-Norwegian War.

The dispute was resolved after the unexpected death of King Haakon IV of Norway. His successor, King Magnus VI, ceded the Hebrides and the Island of Man to Scotland. In return, Scotland recognized Norwegian rule over Orkney and Shetland.

In 1397, Norway, severely weakened by the Black Death several decades prior, entered a personal union with Denmark. In 1469, Margaret, the only daughter of King Christian I of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, married King James III of Scotland. Her father did not have enough money to pay the promised dowry, so he pawned Orkney and Shetland to Scotland instead. Several years later, the archipelagos were directly annexed to the Crown of Scotland.

The flag of Shetland symbolizes the archipelago’s historical and cultural ties with both Norway and Scotland. It consists of a white or silver Nordic cross on an azure background. The cross, used by all Nordic countries, symbolizes the 500 years Shetland was part of Norway, whereas the colors of the flag were taken from the flag of Scotland.

The Shetland flag was designed by Roy Grønneberg and Bill Adams in 1969 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the transfer of Shetland from Norse to Scottish rule and to celebrate the archipelago’s ties with both countries. It was widely used privately as a symbol of the Shetland identity, but it took almost forty years for the flag to get official recognition.

The Lyon Court finally recognized the flag of Shetland in 2005. Two years later, the Shetland Islands Council declared June 21 as Shetland Flag Day. On the longest day of the year, Shetlanders fly their flag to celebrate their national pride and all things Shetland.

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