Why does Hawaii still have a Union Jack in its flag, just like Ontario and BC?

Jul 20th, 2009 | By | Category: In Brief

Hawaii state flagThe Japanese official summary is just called “Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary on the Visit to Canada and the United States of America by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan.”

But in Canada their majesties visited the capital city of Ottawa July 3 to part of July 8. Then they were in Toronto, in the central province of Ontario, for another part of July 8 and July 9. They stopped briefly in Vancouver, in the Pacific province of British Columbia, on July 10, before making their way to the BC capital of Victoria, where they stayed July 11 and 12. Then they were back in Vancouver for July 13 and 14.

Ontario flagFrom Vancouver Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko proceeded directly to the only state of the United States of America they visited – Hawaii. They were there for the better part of only three days, before leaving for home on July 17.

The question Canadians may wonder about, a bit, is why was the Japanese Emperor’s visit to the United States confined to Hawaii? I don’t really know the answer. (It may or may not have something to do with Pearl Harbour – except that’s in Hawaii too?)

British Columbia flagOne thing I do know is  that all of Hawaii, Ontario, and BC share the British Union Jack as part of their current state and provincial flags. In Hawaii’s case this apparently dates back to the early 19th century, “when Hawaii was under British protection.”

The lesson forward-looking Canadians in Ontario and BC might finally take from this is that you can still have a Union Jack in your flag, without having a British monarch as your obsolete head of state. That could also mollify those who were recently surprised that the offshore “monarchy is a bust with today’s Canadians. When asked if they felt a stronger connection to the Queen or the Queen’s representative, Governor-General Michaëlle Jean, 20 per cent named the Queen, 10 per cent said the G-G — and a remarkable 70 per cent said ‘neither’.” (No one of course asked Canadians, or Hawaiians, how they felt about the Emperor and Empress of Japan.)

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