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Governor-General of the Union of South Africa

Governor-General's Flag 1910-1931

The Governor General of the Union of South Africa was the representative of the British Crown in South Africa between May 31,1910 and May 31,1961.

Governor-General's Flag 1931-1961
note bilingual name on scroll

Some of the first holders of the post were members of the British Royal Family including Prince Arthur of Connaught, between 1920 and 1923, and the Earl of Athlone, who served between 1923 and 1930, before becoming Governor-General of Canada. As in other Dominions, this would change, with only local (white) South African citizens holding the office.


The Afrikaner-dominated National Party, which came to power in 1948, was avowedly republican, and regarded South Africa's links with the Crown as a relic of British imperialism. Under the National Party, the office of Governor-General was held by retired government ministers, who pointedly did not wear the traditional 'colonial' uniform, with a plumed hat. In 1957, God Save the Queen ceased to have equal status with Die Stem van Suid-Afrika as a national anthem, and the British Union Jack similarly ceased to have equal status with the South African flag.

However, it was not until 1960 that the Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd, held a referendum on the issue. On October 5th 1960, South Africa's whites were asked: 'Do you support a republic for the Union?'. The result was 52 per cent in favour of the change. Charles Robberts Swart, the last Governor-General, was sworn in as the first State President of the Republic of South Africa on May 31, 1961.

List of Governors-General