The red Dragon was introduced to Britain during Roman times. It is possible that the Romans learned of the dragon from the Persians. Initially the 'draco' was used as a standard by the Roman army but over time it was adopted by the Welsh people as their national flag. It is possibly the oldest national flag in use today.
The earliest recorded used of the red dragon symbolising Wales is in the 'Historia Brittonum' otherwise known as the 'History of Britain'. This was written early in the ninth century. It describes a battle between red and white dragons. Initially the white dragon dominated but finally the red dragon won. The fight was said to symbolise the struggle between the Welsh and English and prophesised that after years of oppression the
Welsh would drive the English from their lands. The great Welsh king, Cadwaladr, carried the dragon standard as a symbol of bravery and fierceness. Welsh princes and warriors continued the tradition. At the Battle of Crecy in 1346 Welsh archers serving in the English army carried the standard. Henry Tudor, who claimed descent from Cadwaladr, carried the dragon banner into battle at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. When he became Henry VII he decreed that the red dragon should appear on Welsh flag. In 1959 Queen Elizabeth II declared that the red dragon on a green and white field should become the official symbol of Wales.
Today, despite the continued strength of the white dragon, the Welsh people maintain their language, culture and sense of Welsh identity. Welsh Regiments serving overseas proudly fly their flag.
Ashley Shameli, the author of this article, is a director of http://www.purdicejewellery.co.uk. He also helps run the Purdice Home & Jewellery eBay shop at http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Purdice-Home-and-Jewellery