This is why the white rose is the symbol of Yorkshire

On Yorkshire Day, celebrations will be themed around the colour white.

Askrigg in the Yorkshire Dales
Askrigg in the Yorkshire Dales

White is the colour of Yorkshire and the white rose is its emblem - but just how did they come to be associated with the county?


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It's thought that the white rose was adopted as a symbol in the 14th century, when it was introduced by Edmund of Langley, the first Duke of York and founder of the House of York, a dynasty related to the Plantagenet kings. White was the colour of purity and virginity, so it had religious connotations.

Yorkshire Day highlights the brilliance of our regionIt became a much more widely-known emblem during the Wars of the Roses, when the Yorkists fought their rivals the House of Lancaster - although the Lancastrians did not fight under the red rose at the time, and the conflict was not given the name until the 19th century. The wars ended when King Henry VII took the throne and created the Tudor rose, uniting both symbols.

It's been argued that the link with Yorkshire was actually a tenuous one, as the House of York's aristocratic families tended to be based in southern England and in Wales. Many prominent Yorkshire landowners supported the House of Lancaster, and the battles were not contested on geographical lines.

Victorian novelist Sir Walter Scott coined the term Wars of the Roses in a book - there were plenty of other York motifs in use, including a falcon and a white boar.

Boris Johnson: Yorkshire can seize the moment on Yorkshire DayThe white rose was engraved on the coffin of the last Yorkist to rule England, King Richard III, after his body was sensationally discovered and re-interred in Leicester Cathedral in 2015.

The white rose came to prominence again during the Seven Years War, when the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry fought at the Battle of Minden in Prussia. They picked white roses from bushes on the battlefields as a tribute to their fallen comrades, and wore them in their buttonholes.

The battle took place on August 1, 1759 - and Yorkshire Day is held on its anniversary to commemorate them.

Use of the white rose today

The official Yorkshire flag depicts the white rose on a blue background, but it's only been officially flown since the 1960s.

Ten of the best pubs to visit for Yorkshire DayIt's also been adopted internationally by cities with a Yorkshire connection, such as York, Pennsylvania. York University in Canada also uses the emblem on its shield.

It was incorporated into an anti-Nazi resistance movement during World War Two - the White Rose League was made up of German students.

The White Rose Universities is a collaborative grouping of the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield.