National symbols are defined as the symbols or icons of a national community (such as England), used to represent that community in a way that unites its people. This unity is based on a common pride, which is incited by different representations; i.e. visual (e.g. the national flower), verbal (e.g. the national anthem) and iconic (e.g. the flag). These symbols are then used in national events and celebrations, inspiring patriotism as they include every member of that particular community, regardless of colour or creed.
One of the great bronze lions at the base of Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square.
England enjoys many national symbols, which are used extensively in political, social, cultural and even religious spheres, to represent this diverse land. These include:
The flag of England is represented by a red cross on a white background. This is known as St George’s Cross and has its origins in the Crusades (12th and 13th centuries), when soldiers were identified by this red-coloured cross on their white tunics. St George was claimed to be the Patron Saint of England at the time, so the cross became associated with him.
The National Floral Emblem – The Tudor Rose
The Tudor Rose, also known as The Rose of England, was adopted as a symbol of peace and merges a white rose (representing the Yorkists) and a red rose (representing the Lancastrians). During the War of the Roses, these two sides fought over the control of the royal house.
The Royal Banner of England
This banner is also known as the Banner of the Royal Arms, amongst its other names. It is the official English banner of arms and represents the sovereignty of the rulers of England (as opposed to loyalty to the country itself). It comprises three horizontally positioned gold lions, which face the observer. Each has a blue tongue and blue claws and is set against a deep red background.
The Royal Arms of England
With much the same design as the Royal Banner, this is a coat of arms that is used in representation of the country as well as of its monarchs.
St Edward's Crown
This is one of the senior British Crown Jewels. It is the official coronation crown and is used in the coronation of English, British, and Commonwealth monarchs. It is also used as an image on various items, such as coats of arms and badges.
National Animal – The Lion
Because the lion is symbolic of bravery, it was frequently used to depict the courageous warriors of medieval England. Today, it remains the national animal of the country and is used extensively in sports’ team names, logos, icons, and so on.
National Flower – The Rose
England is usually represented by a red rose, but other colours can and have also been used.
National Tree – The Oak Tree
The oak tree represents strength, beauty and survival through trials. As such, it is the perfect representation of this enduring country. King Charles II escaped parliamentarians after his father was executed and hid in an old oak tree. Since then, this escape has been called the Royal Oak and is a well-known account for many locals.
National Food – Fish ‘n Chips
All over the world, people associate fish and chips with England. There are many fabulous eateries that offer this dish. The fish (usually a white, flaky, mild-flavoured fish) is battered and deep-fried, and served with potato chips (often sprinkled liberally with salt and vinegar).
National Drink – Tea
Tea has been linked to England for centuries. Although these herbal infusions come in a variety of flavours and makes, the favoured norm remains Ceylon and red bush teas.