The Confederate flag flies outside South Carolina's
A confederate flag flies by South Carolina's memorial to the civil war dead in ColumbiaGetty Images

Confederate flags have been removed from the grounds of Alabama's capitol on the orders of Governor Robert Bentley.

Four Confederacy flags, including the battle flag, as well as the First, Second, and Third National Confederate flags, were removed from a memorial to the war dead and veterans in state capital Montgomery.

"The governor does not want the flag to be a distraction," Jennifer Ardis, a spokeswoman for Bentley, told USA Today. "There are a lot of other things we are focused on. We have a tremendous budget issue."

The move follows the murder of nine black people in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last Wednesday.

In the wake of the attack photographs emerged of alleged gunman Dylann Roof posing with the Confederate flag, sparking on a nationwide debate on the symbol.

The Confederate battle flag still flies on the grounds of South Carolina's capitol, with a bill calling for it to be removed to be debated later this summer.

Legislators voted for the debate to be brought forward after state governor Nikki Haley called for the flag to be moved to a museum, with a two-thirds majority required in both houses of the state legislature for Civil War symbols to be removed.

Both Walmart and Amazon said they would stop selling items containing the Confederate flag, and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe became the latest legislator announce measures against the flag, saying that it would no longer be issued on state license plates for motor vehicles. In Mississippi, lawmakers are to debate removing the Confederate battle flag from the design of the state flag.

Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton said on 23 June that the flag "shouldn't fly anywhere."

The four flags have flown over the memorial to Alabama's 122,000 Confederate veterans since 1964, after the battle flag was removed for a year on the orders of then Governor Jim Folson Jnr.