THE FIRST glimpse of the royal barge Gloriana leading the jubilee flotilla with a flag of St Piran hoisted high sent shivers of excitement through Cornish nationalists.
But hopes royalty may have recognised the county as a nation by flying it alongside Welsh, Northern Irish, Scottish and English flags have been sunk after it was explained as "innocent" and "nothing constitutional".
Lord Sterling, who organised jubilee celebrations in 2002, was behind the project to create the £1 million gold-leaf covered vessel to lead the Thames pageant.
And as the internet buzzed with rumours of the motive for including the black and white emblem, Jack Bolitho, from pressure group Kernowcalling, said: "I couldn't believe it to be honest. I was shocked because no monarch has flown that flag for more than 500 years.
"It's quite strange."
People asked why the Queen had not flown her own Duchy flag, Lancashire. One explanation was it paid tribute to a Cornish boatbuilder on the project.
But this was dismissed by Mr Bolitho, saying: "The Gloriana was made in London by a company in Richmond.
"I just don't think the Queen would have specially hoisted the St Piran flag for one boat- builder."
Pembrokeshire students also helped build the royal barge, but its county flag was not flown.
Other ideas were floated – was it because Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, is next in line to the throne? Perhaps someone had overstepped the mark and it was being "hushed up", as suggested by Facebook user John Dudding.
But calls by the West Briton to Buckingham Palace, the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, the company representing the Gloriana and the Richmond boatbuilders have revealed the answer.
Master boatbuilder Martin Edwards, whose ancestors the Curnows were boatbuilders from Penzance, said a number of the workforce on the Gloriana were Cornish.
They included himself, painters from Falmouth and a boatbuilder known affectionately to the team as "Cornish Malcolm".
Mr Edwards said: "It had been a subject of amusement all along the construction.
"We very diplomatically worked on it with Lord Sterling and he very kindly granted the purchase of a St Piran's flag and saw that it was flown from one of the flag poles on the Gloriana."
He saw the internet whirlwind the flying of the St Piran's flag created.
"It does not infer anything more than that," Mr Edwards said. "It's not anything constitutional, it's all very innocent."