Nicola Sturgeon has furiously denied media reports she has banned the Union flag from flying in Scotland on special occasions.

The Scottish First Minister said she had "issued no instructions, orders, authorisations" to fly the Lion Rampant flag, the Royal Banner of Scotland, on government buildings instead of the Union flag for royal birthdays and anniversaries.

Ms Sturgeon described the reports in the Daily Mail and the Telegraph that claimed her administration was responsible for changing the guidelines so the Union flag could be flown only on Remembrance Day as "nonsense.

The policy was put in place in 2010 by former First Minister Alex Salmond who said the decision had come after a conversation with the Queen.

The Lion Rampant flag has been flown from government buildings instead of the Union flag for royal birthdays and anniversaries since 2010. Credit: PA

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "Since 2010, the Lion Rampant has been flown on Royal occasions - entirely appropriately. Since the Lion Rampant is the Royal Banner, it is not clear to me why anyone would object to that. However, the key point is that there has been no change to this since 2010.

"Yes, the civil service recently decided to update the published guidance, but simply to ensure that it accurately reflected the long standing practice - the underlying policy has not changed. And why would it?"

The Scottish Government spokesperson said: "There has been no recent change whatsoever to the policy or practice relating to the flags that are flown from government buildings,” a spokeswoman said.