The Status of Kernow within the United Kingdom

Cornwall, Kernow in Kernewek the Cornish language, is one of the six Celtic nations that has its own language and distinctive identity. It is one of the five Celtic nations that makes up the British Isles along with Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales. See also our Celtic nations webpage at Celtic Nations Links & News

Map of UK Celtic Nations

Cornwall occupies a unique position within the United Kingdom. It is treated by the UK government as an administrative county, but in reality it is much more than that. Cornwall was created a Royal Duchy in 1337 by Edward III with the first Duke being Edward the 'Black Prince'.

Up to the Norman Conquest Cornwall was in reality a quasi-independent principality only loosely tied to the rest of England with its borders set at the east shore of the River Tamar by English King Æthelstan in 936 AD. This separated Wessex and Cornwall and the river still forms most of the boundary between Cornwall and England today.

Links to two articles setting out arguments relating to Cornwall's status are included here.

County, Duchy, Nation or Country The Case for Cornwall by Craig Weatherhill [2016]

Cornwall - A Category of its Own by Dr John Kirkhope [2015]

Minority status

In 2014 the Cornish people were granted minority status within the United Kingdom, the government formally recognising the distinct identity of Cornish people.

This decision recognises the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish. For the first time the government has recognised the distinctive culture and history of the Cornish.

The UK signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1995 and ratified it in 1998.

The broad aims of the Framework Convention are to ensure that the signatory states respect the rights of people belonging to national minorities, undertaking to combat discrimination, promote equality, preserve and develop the culture and identity of national minorities, guarantee certain freedoms in relation to access to the media, minority languages and education and encourage the participation of people belonging to national minorities in public life.

The government’s approach to the Framework Convention is to be modified to recognise the unique position of the Cornish as a Celtic people within England. It is without prejudice as to whether the Cornish meet the definition of “racial group” under the Equality Act 2010, as only the courts can rule on that.

We will be adding further information and links relating to Cornwall and the Cornish peoples distinctive identity within the United Kingdom on an ongoing basis.

It might be considered that although the government of the United Kingdom may not fully recognise Cornwall as a separate nation perhaps her Majesty The Queen does. As the Royal Barge floated serenely down the Thames during Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee the Flag of St Piran, Cornwall's national flag flew proudly alongside those of the other nations of the United Kingdom.

During the Thames flotilla celebrations on 3rd June 2012, and in accordance with flag protocol, the new royal barge ‘Gloriana’ carried the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom and flags of the nations of the United Kingdom: The Cross of St George for England; the Saltire Cross of St Andrew for Scotland;  Y Drag Goch /Welsh Dragon for Wales; the Cross of St Patrick for Northern Ireland; and the Cross of St Piran for the Duchy of Cornwall.

It was noted that “These flags being flown plus the flag of the City of London, as a courtesy flag, as it was all being held in the City’s waters), were obviously approved by the highest authority in the land, and note that they included Baner Sen Peran, being flown as a national flag of equal status. This was the first time since Henry VIII’s coronation that Cornwall was being officially and publicly acknowledged as a nation of he UK, separate from, and distinct from, the other five”

Gloriana Cornish Flag

Royal Barge Gloriana on the River Thames  3rd June 2012 flying the flags of the nations of the United Kingdom including Baner Sen Peren, flag of St Piran, of Cornwall.