Whilst the county of Bedfordshire has no long standing symbolic tradition, a coat of arms was created for the county council in 1951
which combines the three escallops or shells on a black field from the arms of the Russells, Dukes of Bedford
with the red and yellow (gold) quartered field from the arms of the Beauchamps,
the leading family in the county after the Norman Conquest, who constructed Bedford Castle and were granted a barony at Bedford. The blue and white wavy stripes are a reference to the River Ouse which flows through the county and are a traditional heraldic representation of a water course. Prior to its formal award of arms the county council had made use of a seal for its official documentation
which also combined these armorial charges, being a quartered device bearing three bends, the top one itself bearing the three white scallops from the arms of the Russells, the lower a crown and the letters XVI, a reference to the Bedfordshire Regiment. This was adopted in 1924.
With the dissolution of the county council the arms they previously bore became available for deployment, in banner form, as the county flag. a process previously applied in Middlesex, Cumberland, Westmorland and Cheshire.
Use of this design was particularly appropriate as the former council’s arms are used by a significant number of Bedfordshire organisations, including many sporting associations;
Whilst an appropriate design for deployment as Bedfordshire’s county flag it was deemed an opportune moment to correct a minor flaw in the design. It was slightly reworked so that the blue and white colours representing the River Ouse on the left hand side, were transposed, so that the yellow-white and red-blue arrangements were no longer in contact, in apparent disregard of the heraldic “rule of tincture” which operates to keep light and dark colours from touching one another. This change and use of a lighter shade of blue increased the flag’s visibility effectiveness.
A campaign to secure registration for this improved design was waged by Luke Blackstaffe of the Friends of Bedfordshire from the website located here http://friendsofbedfordshire.org.uk/flag.php . The campaign very soon secured the support of Colin Osborne, the Bedfordshire County Sheriff, whose sanction, as a major county figure, was sufficient to justify the design’s registration which was completed on September 11th 2014.