Up in arms: the removal of the coat of arms from the front cover of Luxembourg’s passport left many social media commentators angry
Photo: Maison Moderne archves
Roy Reding recently questioned the motive behind the changed look of his “new” passport. British Leave voters rejoiced at the return of blue passports. Does it matter?
ADR deputy Roy Reding appeared to be perplexed by the disappearance of the Luxembourg coat of arms from the front of his passport when he recently renewed the travel document. On a Facebook post dated 24 July, Reding asked “Why has the state coat of arms disappeared from the new passport? Is Gambia [the current coalition government] ashamed of being Luxembourgish?”
Reding received several posts in support of his question. Some argued that the new look passport was preparation for a “United States of Europe”, while others suggested that the coalition was out to “eradicate” Luxembourg identity. One user even went so far as to liken the coalition’s treatment of the Luxembourg people to that of native Americans by the United States governments.
Several replies to Reding’s post pointed out that the new look passport was at least three years old--in fact, the current front cover dates from February 2015 when new biometric passports were introduced. Others questioned Reding’s priorities. “I’d like to have your problems…” was one response.
The social media debate seemed to follow the same logic and mimic much of the rhetoric that broke when the UK announced it would be re-introducing its apparently iconic blue passports after October 2019. Many politicians and commentators welcomed the news as a sign that Britain was restoring its national identity. One British Conservative MP, Andrew Rosindell, even went is far as to say that the burgundy passports introduced in 1988 following an agreement with the then European Economic Community, had been a source of “humiliation”. And, inevitably, the Daily Mail in the shape of Peter Oborne, called the return of the blue passports an “inspired and patriotic move.”
Both British and Luxembourg passports currently comply with several standards mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is an agency of the UN. And they will continue to do so in the future if the bearers of the passports want to continue to enjoy privileges such as visa-free travel to the United States.
In the reality of the modern world, it is clear there is no escape from some sort of “control” from international institutions over our passports. They are, after all, merely documents that have very little to do with national “identity” and very much to do with being allowed to travel to other countries with as little inconvenience as possible.
Sadly, Reding’s complaint and the support he received on Facebook, is further proof that, as James E. Baldwin wrote in The Guardian in December 2017, “apparently trivial symbols of national identity are very meaningful for a lot of people.”