IT HAS been a good week for fans of Middlesex.
The ancient county’s flag will be proudly fluttering over the Civic Centre in Uxbridge all week, and is also flying above Whitehall to mark Middlesex Day which fell yesterday, May 16.
Cultural Heritage Secretary of State, Eric Pickles also gave lovers of England’s ancient counties a spring in their step, by asking that county standards be flown alongside the Union flag outside his department’s headquarters in Victoria. This week it was the turn of the crown and scimitars on their striking red background in honour of Middlesex.
Uxbridge MP John Randall said he was delighted to see it. “For those of us fortunate to be from Middlesex, to see our county flag flying bravely on Middlesex Day from a government building is a great moment.
“This will show that although the county is no longer an administrative county, it is very much still a part of our nation.”
This year’s celebrations are all the more poignant. May 16 was selected because it is the anniversary of the Battle of Albuera, one of the key confrontations in The Peninsula Wars where a joint force of British, Spanish and Portuguese troops fought valiantly against the forces of Napoleon.
Fought in 1811 in Spain, it was where the Middlesex Regiment bloodily earned its grim nickname – ‘The Diehards’.
Mr Randall added: “We can celebrate, too, the exploits of those brave men who fought 200 years ago at the Battle of Albuera, and our flag will help to keep their proud memory and our county’s history alive for future generations.”
Hillingdon-born Russell Grant has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of his home county. The former Abbotsfield pupil is frustrated by the way Middlesex has continued to get a raw deal, despite first being mentioned in Saxon documents as early as 704AD.
“Since local government counties were only created in 1889, it is a pity that more than 1,000 years of local heritage and national history of our counties, such as Middlesex, is lost because of a lack of a short-lived county council,” he said.
“Of course, the county of Middlesex – an entirely separate and different entity – continues to exist as it has done for 1,300 years, but the lack of understanding of modern media and bypassing of local history in our schools has created an historical and geographical vacuum.
Mr Grant added: “We hope, in time, our government will right the wrongs of previous administrations by protecting the identity and integrity of our counties that are the very fabric of our English nationhood.”