With the reveal of imagery showing a new paint job for the aircraft used by the Prime Minister, many have expressed concern that the flag has been painted on backwards.
The job of this specific Voyager aircraft, say the MoD, is to provide a secure, cost- effective and suitably profiled transport for Government Ministers and the Royal Family.
As if this weren’t already an ridiculous national embarrassment, the flag’s upside down. https://t.co/icUCEGMiYn
— Sharon O'Dea (@sharonodea) June 24, 2020
So, for context, a Union Flag is said to be ‘distressed’ or ‘backwards’ if the broader (wider) diagonal white stripe is not at the top on the side of the flag nearest the flagpole. You can read more about that here.
To many, it appears that the Union Flag painted on the tail is the wrong way around, following this convention.
However, the Royal Air Force said in a statement:
“The design is correct in all respects and carefully follows the correct protocol for displaying the Union Flag on an aircraft. The convention is for the flag design to appear as though it is flying from a flag placed on the nose of the aircraft, as it travels through the air. When viewing the starboard side (right hand side), this can give the mistaken impression that the design is backwards, or upside down, when in fact the observer is simply viewing the reverse side of the flag.
A keen eye will notice that this convention has been consistently applied on all flags represented on the aircraft, including on the Union Flags on the two forward-most aircraft doors. This protocol is not unique to the UK, a simple on-line search for images of the United States’ Air Force One starboard side will show that an identical convention has been followed.”
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, also called the Air and Space Museum, is an aviation museum in the United States and they go into detail on this protocol. Read more in their article ‘Here’s Why The US Flag Sometimes Appears Backwards‘.
So, in summary, the flag isn’t upside down and painting them this way is the correct procedure.