The idea of the George Cross and the George Medal came about by King George VI on the 24th September 1940, namely in the early years of World War II. Percy Metcalfe was the person behind the design of the George Medal. The George Cross was instituted in recognition of civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds. It was awarded mainly to civilians for acts of heroism in dangerous circumstances. Since its inception, the George Cross was awarded four hundred and eight times. King George VI awarded the George Cross to the island of Malta, when Malta was still under the British Empire. This was awarded to Governor Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie by a letter dated 15th April 1942. A year later, precisely in 1943 the medal was incorporated as part of the Maltese flag.
Every so often the controversy as to whether the George Cross should be retained as part of the Maltese flag is put under the spotlight. As usual, prominent Maltese historians and opinionists come up with arguments both in favour and against.
Prominent Maltese historians state that removing the George Cross from the Maltese flag would be absurd, simply because this is still cherished by many and after having been awarded such prestigious recognition for gallantry, removing it would be an insult to our heritage and predecessors alike, for standing up against Nazism and Fascism.
For long, the George Cross has been considered as part of Malta’s history. Despite this emblem being awarded to Malta by the British Empire, it is nowadays very much associated with Malta and its identity within the Commonwealth.
Others have argued that the emblem symbolises a foreign country and that in essence, the George Cross is not purely a Maltese symbol. Having this symbol on our flag gives the false impression that the Maltese have nothing of their own to adequately represent them on their flag.
There are those who argue that the George Cross serves as a reminder of our colonial past, being more of a symbol which honours the British rather than the Maltese.
The George Cross is inscribed in our Maltese constitution as this is considered a national symbol. Removing or replacing the George Cross from the Maltese flag requires a constitutional change, and can only be removed if this is approved by a simple majority in parliament.
What are your views on the George Cross? Should it remain on the Maltese flag?