Archbishop celebrates St George’s Day

Published 23 April 2012
He may hail from Uganda but the Archbishop of York is one of England’s most passionate spokespeople for St George’s Day, being marked today.

It’s one of his “favourite” days in the year, Dr John Sentamu wrote in his column for The Sun yesterday.

“A day when we can celebrate everything that is great about England,” he said.

Whilst Wales, Scotland and Ireland unashamedly fly their flags to celebrate the days of their patron saints each year, St George’s Day is traditionally a far more muted affair across England.

A new poll by think tank British Future has found that English people are more likely to feel pride in the Union Jack than the St George’s Cross.

While 61% of people said they felt pride in the English flag, 80% said they felt proud of the Union Jack.

This falls far behind the patriotism felt in Scotland, where 84% feel pride in the St Andrew’s Cross, and in Wales where 86% are proud of the Welsh Red Dragon.

By contrast, affinity with the Union Jack is much lower in Scotland and Wales, with just over half of Scots saying they feel pride in the flag, and 68% of Welsh.

The findings are detailed in British Future’s report, This Sceptred Isle, published today, which blames the lack of enthusiasm for the Cross of St George on the “extreme hooligans of the English Defence League”.

The report blames the radical right-wingers for “toxifying” the English flag and criticises politicians for failing to speak up for “inclusive patriotism of the English majority”.

Picking up on this sentiment, Dr Sentamu wrote: “Having national pride and celebrating what is good about England isn't sectarian or tribal. Not in the slightest.

“For me, the flag of St George is a symbol of national hope for the English nation. It speaks of an all-embracing England, confident and hopeful in its own identity.

“We shouldn't be shy about saying how great our country is. We should be proud.

“England is known the world over for her universal language, her sense of fair play and decency, the virtue of hope and her sense of hospitality.

“Don't let the killjoys stop you enjoying St George's Day. Embrace it. Get outside and wave a flag, sing songs and share a cool drink with your neighbour!”

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