Flag of the United Kingdom

The national flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Jack, also known as the Union Flag.[1]

The current design of the Union Jack dates from the union of Ireland and Great Britain in 1801. It consists of the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England), edged in white, superimposed on the Cross of St Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which are superimposed on the Saltire of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland). Wales is not represented in the Union Flag by Wales's patron saint, Saint David, as at the time the flag was designed Wales was part of the Kingdom of England.

The flag's standard height-to-length proportions are 1:2.[2] The war flag variant used by the British Army modifies the proportions to 3:5 and crops two of the red diagonals.

The earlier flag of Great Britain was established in 1606 by a proclamation of King James VI and I of Scotland and England.[3] The new flag of the United Kingdom was officially created by an Order in Council of 1801, reading as follows:

The Union Flag shall be azure, the Crosses saltire of Saint Andrew and Saint Patrick quarterly per saltire, counter-changed, argent and gules, the latter fimbriated of the second, surmounted by the Cross of Saint George of the third fimbriated as the saltire.[4]

United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Flag of the United Kingdom
NameUnion Jack, Union Flag, British flag, UK flag
UseNational flag
Proportion1:2
Adopted1 January 1801
DesignA white-fimbriated symmetric red cross on a blue field with a white-fimbriated counterchanged saltire of red and white.
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Variant flag of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
UseCivil ensign
Proportion1:2
DesignA red field with the Union Flag in the canton. See Red Ensign.
Government Ensign of the United Kingdom
Variant flag of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
UseState ensign
Proportion1:2
DesignA blue field with the Union Flag in the canton. See Blue Ensign.
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom
Variant flag of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
UseNaval ensign
Proportion1:2
DesignA symmetric red cross on a white field with the Union Flag in the canton. See White Ensign.
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom
Variant flag of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
UseNational
Proportion1:2
DesignA field of air force blue with the Union Flag in the canton and the RAF roundel in the middle of the fly.

Flying the flag

Flag of Scotland (navy blue).svg
St Andrew's Cross
16th c. (Scotland)
 
Flag of England.svg
St George's Cross
16th c. (England & Wales)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Flag of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg
King's Colours, or Great Union Flag, of 1606
1707 (Great Britain)
 
Saint Patrick's Saltire.svg
St Patrick's Cross
Unknown origin (Ireland)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Flag of the United Kingdom (3-5).svg
Union Flag of 1801
1801 (United Kingdom)
Evolution of the Union flag.

The Union Flag can be flown by any individual or organisation in Great Britain on any day of their choice. Legal regulations restrict the use of the Union Flag on Government buildings in Northern Ireland. Long-standing restrictions on Government use of the flag elsewhere were abolished in July 2007.[5][6]

Upside-down

While the flag appears symmetric, the white lines above and below the diagonal red are different widths. On the side closer to the flagpole (or on the left when depicted on paper), the white lines above the diagonals are wider; on the side farther from the flagpole (or on the right when depicted on paper), the converse is true. Thus, no change will be apparent when rotating the flag 180 degrees, but if mirrored the flag will be upside-down.

Placing the flag upside down is considered lèse majesté and is offensive to some.[7][8] However, it can be flown upside down as a distress signal. While this is rare, it was used by groups under siege during the Boer War and during campaigns in India in the late 18th century.

St Patrick's saltire

The reason that the UK flag is not symmetrical is because of the relative positions of the saltires of St Patrick and St Andrew. The red saltire of St Patrick is offset such that it does not relegate the white saltire of St Andrew to a mere border. St Andrew's saltire has the higher position at the hoist side with St Patrick's saltire in the higher position on the opposite side.

Half-mast

The Union Flag is flown from Government buildings at half-mast in the following situations:[9]

  • from the announcement of the death of the Sovereign (an exception is made for Proclamation Day – the day the new Sovereign is proclaimed, when the Flag is flown at full mast from 11 am to sunset)
  • the day of the funeral of a member of the British Royal Family
  • the funeral of a foreign Head of State
  • the funeral of a former British Prime Minister

The Sovereign sometimes declares other days when the Union Flag is to fly at half-mast. Half-mast means the flag is flown two-thirds of the way up the flagpole with at least the height of the flag between the top of the flag and the top of the flagpole.[10]

Flying from public buildings

Until July 2007, the Union Flag was only flown on Government buildings on a limited number of special days each year. The choice of days was managed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).[5] Government buildings are those used by civil servants, the Crown, or the armed forces. They were not applicable to private citizens, corporations, or local authorities.[5]

On 3 July 2007, the Justice Secretary Jack Straw laid a green paper before Parliament entitled The Governance of Britain.[6] Alongside a range of proposed changes to the constitutional arrangements of the UK was a specific announcement that there would be consultation on whether the rules on flag-flying on Government buildings should be relaxed.

Two days later, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that with immediate effect the Union Flag would fly from the flag pole above the front entrance of 10 Downing Street on every day of the year. The intention was to increase feelings of British national identity. Other Government departments were asked to follow this lead, and all Government buildings in Whitehall did so.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17]

James Purnell, Culture Secretary from June 2007 to January 2008 in Brown's administration, subsequently concurred with the abolition of the restrictions – pending consultation on longer term arrangements.

Flag days

The flag days directed by the DCMS include birthdays of members of the Royal Family, the wedding anniversary of the Monarch, Commonwealth Day, Accession Day, Coronation Day, The Queen's official birthday, Remembrance Sunday and on the days of the State Opening and prorogation of Parliament.

Since the beginning of 2013, the relevant days have been:

In addition, the flag should be flown in the following areas on the specified days:

Some non central government bodies still continue to follow the flag days.

In Scotland, the Scottish Government has decreed that the Flag of Scotland ("the Saltire") will fly on all its buildings every day from 8 am until sunset, but there is no specific policy on flying the Union Flag and as such it is sometimes flown alongside the Saltire and sometimes omitted. An exception is made for "national days". On these days, the Saltire shall be lowered and replaced with the Union Flag. These are the same as the flag days noted above with the exception of:

Another difference is that on Saint Andrew's Day, the Union Flag can only be flown if the building has more than one flagpole – the Saltire will not be lowered to make way for the Union Flag if there is only one flagpole.[18]

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Union Flag is flown from buildings of the Northern Ireland Office as decreed by Regulations published in 2000.[19] The Regulations were amended in 2002 to remove the requirement to fly the flag on the birthdays of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon who both died that year.[20] The current flag days are now the same as the United Kingdom government days noted above with the exception of the Duchess of Cornwall's birthday, which was only added to the UK flag days after her wedding to the Prince of Wales in 2005, and has not yet been extended to Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the only body in the United Kingdom that is not permitted to fly the Union Flag, and is only permitted to fly its service flag or the Royal Standard in the event of a visit by the Sovereign.[21]

Proposed redesigns

Suggested incorporation of the Welsh dragon

Union Flag (including Wales)
One suggested redesign of the Union Jack with the red dragon from the flag of Wales added in the centre

In November 2007 the then culture minister Margaret Hodge said she would consider a redesign of the Union Flag to incorporate the Welsh dragon, during a debate in the House of Commons on the frequency with which the flag flies above public buildings. The issue was initially raised by Ian Lucas, another Labour MP, who complained that the flag introduced in 1606 following the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne as James I combined the cross of St George and the saltire of St Andrew. This principle continued in 1801 when the St Patrick cross was incorporated following the Union with Ireland Act 1800. Lucas claimed the identity of Wales had been suppressed ever since the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. In the debate, Albert Owen MP said that "we in Wales do not feel part of the union flag because the dragon or the cross of St David is not on it."[22] Conservative MP Stewart Jackson described the comments as "eccentric".[23]

Scottish independence

As of 2013, numerous proposals were made about how the Union Flag might be altered to create a flag for the union of England, Wales and Northern Ireland after possible Scottish independence.[24] The College of Arms stated that there would be no need to change the flag in those circumstances, and the existing flag could continue to be used if desired.[25] Regarding the removal of Scottish heraldic features from the Union Flag, the Court of the Lord Lyon stated in 2012 that "[that] would be speculation at this stage, and we could only cross that bridge if we came to it."[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ The Flag Institute: "It is often stated that the Union Flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea. From early in its life the Admiralty itself frequently referred to the flag as the Union Jack, whatever its use, and in 1902 an Admiralty Circular announced that Their Lordships had decided that either name could be used officially. Such use was given Parliamentary approval in 1908 when it was stated that 'the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag'."
  2. ^ United Kingdom, flag of the, for flag ratio see flag caption
  3. ^ A.C. Fox-Davies, The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory (1904, reprinted 1986, ISBN 0-906223-34-2), p. 399: "By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Council, ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine, and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Crosse, commonly called St George's Crosse, and the White Crosse, commonly called St Andrew's Crosse, joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds, and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed"|James VI and I|Orders in Council; Official creation of the Union Flag – 1606."
  4. ^ Max Cryer, Curious English Words and Phrases: The Truth Behind the Expressions We Use (2012), p. 395: "When Britain's official flag settled down in 1801, its exact design and colouring were meticulously written out by Order of Council which described it as 'the Union Flag'... The correct formal wording of the Order of Council, 1801, was..." &c.
  5. ^ a b c Department for Culture, Media and Sport: Flag Flying
  6. ^ a b The Governance of Britain, for flying the Union Flag, see pp. 57–58
  7. ^ Matthew Tempest and agencies Paisley to stand down as MEP, The Guardian, 19 January 2004. "After receiving almost 30% of the overall Northern Ireland vote in the 1979 European election, Ian Paisley became the first MEP to speak in the parliament when he protested that the Union Flag was flying upside down."
  8. ^ Defence Secretary apologises for flag blunder BBC News, 13 November 1997
  9. ^ FAQ Archived 16 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  10. ^ FAQ: What is half mast? Archived 16 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  11. ^ We're all proud to fly the flag The Sun, 5 July 2007
  12. ^ Morning Press Briefing Archived 9 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine by Prime Minister's Spokesman, 6 July 2007
  13. ^ Union flag already flying all year round The Daily Telegraph 7 July 2007
  14. ^ Brown lifts ban on national flag BBC News, 6 July 2007
  15. ^ Brown flies flag for Britain The Guardian 6 July 2007
  16. ^ "Union Jack will fly over No 10 permanently 'to show values'". The Times 6 July 2007
  17. ^ "Gordon orders Whitehall to fly the flag in boost for Britishness" Archived 19 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine Evening Standard 6 July 2007
  18. ^ "Royal and ceremonial" Scottish Government
  19. ^ "The Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000". Opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  20. ^ "The Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) 2002". Opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  21. ^ "Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002". Opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  22. ^ Wintour, Patrick (28 November 2007). "Minister proposes a redesign for the union flag", The Guardian
  23. ^ Cleland, Gary (27 November 2007). "Union Jack should include Welsh flag, says MP", Daily Telegraph
  24. ^ Sam Judah (4 December 2013). "What would the union jack look like if the Scottish bit was removed?". BBC News.
  25. ^ "Union Flag: What happens if Scotland wins independence?". ITV News. 27 November 2013.
  26. ^ "Would the blue have to be taken out of Union flag if Scotland became independent?". Daily Record. 7 Jun 2012.

External links

A1 Team Great Britain

A1 Team Great Britain is the British team of A1 Grand Prix, an international racing series.

Clock Tower, Faisalabad

The Faisalabad Clock Tower is a clock tower in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan, and is one of the oldest monuments still standing in its original state from the period of the British Raj. It was built by the British, when they ruled much of the South Asia during the nineteenth century.

The foundation of majestic Clock Tower was laid on 14 November 1903 by the British lieutenant governor of Punjab Sir Charles Riwaz and the biggest local landlord belonging to the Mian Family of Abdullahpur. The fund was collected at a rate of Rs. 18 per square of land. The fund thus raised was handed over to the Municipal Committee which undertook to complete the project.

The locals refer to it as "Ghanta Ghar" گھنٹہ گھر in Urdu which translates into Hour House in English. It is located in the older part of the city. The clock is placed at the center of the eight markets that from a bird's-eye view look like the Union Jack flag of the United Kingdom. This special layout still exists today and can be viewed using the latest software from Google Maps. The eight markets (bazaars) each its unique products type for sales. The bazaars are named to the direction these open towards i.e. Kuthery bazaar, Chinot bazaar, Aminpur bazaar, Bhawana Bazaar, Jhang Bazaar, Montgomery bazaar, Karkhana bazaar and Rail bazaar.

During festivals of Eid and Independence Day the mayor (nazim) of Faisalabad delivers a speech at this site and hangs the flag at full mast.

Flag of Akrotiri and Dhekelia

Akrotiri and Dhekelia has no official flag of its own and as a result is represented by the flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack. Akrotiri and Dhekelia, officially the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, is a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus that comprises two military bases and their hinterland.

Flag of Ascension Island

The flag of Ascension Island, part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, was adopted on 11 May 2013. The flag is a blue ensign design, defaced with the coat of arms of Ascension Island.

Flag of Brazil

The flag of Brazil (Portuguese: Bandeira do Brasil), known in Portuguese as A Auriverde (The Yellow-and-green One), is a blue disc depicting a starry sky (which includes the Southern Cross) spanned by a curved band inscribed with the national motto "Ordem e Progresso" ("Order and Progress"), within a yellow rhombus, on a green field. Brazil officially adopted this design for its national flag on November 19, 1889 — four days after the Proclamation of the Republic, to replace the flag of the Empire of Brazil. The concept was the work of Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, with the collaboration of Miguel Lemos, Manuel Pereira Reis and Décio Villares.

The green field and the yellow rhombus from the previous imperial flag, though slightly modified in hue and shape, were preserved — the green represented the House of Braganza of Pedro I, the first Emperor of Brazil, while the yellow represented the House of Habsburg of his wife, Empress Maria Leopoldina. A blue circle with white five-pointed stars replaced the arms of the Empire of Brazil — its position in the flag reflects the sky over the city of Rio de Janeiro on November 15, 1889. The motto Ordem e Progresso is inspired by Auguste Comte's motto of positivism: "L'amour pour principe et l'ordre pour base; le progrès pour but" ("Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress as the goal").Each star corresponds to a Brazilian Federative Unit and, according to Brazilian Law, the flag must be updated in case of creation or extinction of a state. At the time the flag was first adopted in 1889, it held 21 stars. Then it received one more star in 1960 (representing the city-state of Guanabara), then another in 1968 (representing Acre), and finally four more stars in 1992 (representing Amapá, Roraima, Rondônia and Tocantins), totalling 27 stars in its current version.

Flag of England

The flag of England is derived from Saint George's Cross (heraldic blazon: Argent, a cross gules). The association of the red cross as an emblem of England can be traced back to the Middle Ages, and it was used as a component in the design of the Union Flag in 1606. Since the 1990s it has been in increasingly wide use, particularly at national sporting events.

Flag of Hungary

The flag of Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország zászlaja, more commonly Hungarian: magyar zászló) is a horizontal tricolour of red, white and green. In this exact form, it has been the official flag of Hungary since May 23, 1957. The flag's form originates from national republican movements of the 18th and 19th centuries, while its colours are from the Middle Ages. The current Hungarian tricolour flag is the same as the republican movement flag of the United Kingdom (used since 1816) and the colours in that form were already used at least since the coronation of Leopold II in 1790, predating the first use of the Italian Tricolour in 1797.

Flag of Mandatory Palestine

During the British Mandate over Palestine between 1920 and 1948, officially recognized by the League of Nations in the Palestine Mandate (July 24, 1922), the de facto flag was the Union Jack or Union Flag of the United Kingdom, but several localised flags existed for Mandate government departments and government officials. The only Palestine-specific flag not restricted to official government use was the Palestine ensign (red with the Union Flag in the canton, and a white circle on the fly with the mandate's name inside it), which was flown by ships registered in the British Mandate territory from 1927 to 1948. This flag had an extremely limited use on land and was not embraced by either the Arabs or the Jews of the Palestine mandate territory. It was based on the British Red Ensign (civil ensign) instead of the Blue Ensign (used as the basis for the flags of nearly all other British-ruled territories in Africa and Asia) since it was intended for use only at sea by non-government ships.

Flag of Northern Ireland

The official flag of Northern Ireland is the Union Flag of the United Kingdom. The Ulster Banner was used by the Northern Ireland government from 1953 until the government and parliament were abolished in 1973. Since then, it has had no official status. However, it is still used as the flag of Northern Ireland by loyalists and unionists, and to represent Northern Ireland internationally in some sporting competitions.

The Saint Patrick's Saltire represents Northern Ireland indirectly as Ireland in the Union Flag. It is sometimes flown during Saint Patrick's Day parades in Northern Ireland, and is used to represent Northern Ireland during some royal events.In recent years, there have been calls for a new, neutral flag for Northern Ireland.

Flag of South Africa (1928–1994)

The flag of South Africa from 1928 to 1994 was used by the Union of South Africa and its successor state, the Republic of South Africa until 1994. It was also used in South-West Africa (now Namibia) when the territory was under South African rule. Based on the Dutch Prince's Flag, it contained the flag of the United Kingdom, the flag of the Orange Free State and the flag of the South African Republic in the centre. A nickname for the flag was Oranje, Blanje, Blou (Afrikaans for: "orange, white, blue").It was adopted in 1928 by an act of Parliament from the first Afrikaner majority government. In 1948, after their election victory, the National Party unsuccessfully tried to amend the flag design to remove what they called the “Blood Stain" (the flag of the United Kingdom). In 1968 Prime Minister John Vorster proposed the adoption of a new flag in 1971 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the declaration of South Africa as an independent republic. Vorster's idea did not gain Parliamentary support and the flag change never happened. As such this flag was used during the entirety of the apartheid era as well, leading to it being labeled the "Apartheid flag". It was replaced by the current flag of South Africa in 1994 with the commencement of the republic's transitional constitution and the end of apartheid.

Following its retirement in 1994 the flag has been controversial within South Africa, with some people viewing it as historic and a symbol of Afrikaner heritage while others view it as a symbol of apartheid and of white supremacy.

Hail to England

Hail to England is Manowar's third album which was released in 1984. The album title is a tribute to the country that the American band members met and formed the band in, and in particular the predominantly British NWOBHM that had emerged in the early 1980s. The album was also reported to have been recorded in its entirety in only six days. The album peaked at No. 13 on the UK charts. The album actually features the flag of the United Kingdom on the front cover, and not the flag of England.

Jackeen

Jackeen is a pejorative term for someone from Dublin, Ireland. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a "contemptuous designation for a self-assertive worthless fellow", citing the earliest documented use from the year 1840.The term Jackeen is believed to be derived from either Jack, a common English nickname for the names John and James, or in reference to the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland beginning in 1169, Dublin became the centre of the Pale, the part of Ireland directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. By the 19th century, Dublin had served as the centre for English rule in Ireland for centuries, and Dubliners were stereotyped as being heavily Anglicized and considered the most English of all the Irish. Jack is combined with the Irish diminutive suffix "-een" (represented as -ín in Irish) meaning little, commonly found in Irish female names such as Roisín ("little Rose") and Maureen (Mairín, "little Mary"), implying that Dubliners are "little Englishmen".Today, Jackeen is sometimes used to describe Dublin GAA players and supporters.

List of Macanese flags

This is a list of flags of Macau.

List of flags used in Northern Ireland

This is a list of flags used in Northern Ireland.

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha is a British Overseas Territory located in the South Atlantic and consisting of the island of Saint Helena, Ascension Island and the archipelago of Tristan da Cunha.

Its name was Saint Helena and Dependencies until 1 September 2009, when a new constitution came into force giving the three islands equal status within the territory. Despite this change, the whole territory is still commonly referred to as simply Saint Helena after its main island. Similarly, the demonym Saint Helenians (or "Saints") and the derived name for the local nationality is commonly understood to include Ascension Islanders and Tristanians, as well.

Star of India (flag)

The Star of India can refer to a group of flags used during the period of British rule in the Indian subcontinent. British India had a range of flags for different purposes during its existence. The flags included the Union Flag with the insignia of the Order of the Star of India superimposed, or the Red or Blue Ensign with the Star of India superimposed. The official state flag for use on land was the Union Flag of the United Kingdom and it was this flag that was lowered on Independence Day in 1947.

While the Blue Ensign was used for military and naval purposes, the Red Ensign was used for representing India in most international events. The Star of India had a sunburst with the motto Heaven's Light Our Guide around them, and was the badge of the Order of the Star of India, a chivalric order of knighthood. The motto chosen was neutral so as to appeal to people of different faiths due to the religious diversity of India, with Heaven also referring to the stars, and their light that sailors used to circumnavigate to India. Unlike most British symbols, the Star didn’t have Christian connotations, as they were deemed unacceptable to the Indian Princes. A blue state (government) ensign also existed, and was defaced with a lion holding a Tudor Crown.The Star of India flags were replaced by the Tiranga (Indian Tricolour) after Independence on 15 August 1947 in the independent Dominion of India, and by the Flag of Pakistan in independent Dominion of Pakistan, which used the star as the basis of its' Coat of Arms. The star is still used as a basis for the emblems of organisations such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Mumbai Police, the State Seals of Maharashtra and West Bengal etc.

Tim Peake

Major Timothy Nigel Peake (born 7 April 1972) is a British Army Air Corps officer, European Space Agency astronaut and a former International Space Station (ISS) crew member.

He is the first British ESA astronaut, the second astronaut to bear a flag of the United Kingdom patch (the first was Helen Sharman, who visited Mir as part of Project Juno in 1991), the sixth person born in the United Kingdom to go on board the International Space Station (the first was NASA astronaut Michael Foale in 2003) and the seventh UK-born person in space. He began the ESA's intensive astronaut basic training course in September 2009 and graduated on 22 November 2010.

Union Jack

The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. The flag also has a semi-official status in Canada, by parliamentary resolution, where it is known as the Royal Union Flag. Additionally, it is used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas territories. The Union Flag also appears in the canton (upper left-hand quarter) of the flags of several nations and territories that are former British possessions or dominions, as well as the state flag of Hawaii.

The claim that the term Union Jack properly refers only to naval usage has been disputed, following historical investigations by the Flag Institute in 2013.The origins of the earlier flag of Great Britain date back to 1606. James VI of Scotland had inherited the English and Irish thrones in 1603 as James I, thereby uniting the crowns of England, Scotland, and Ireland in a personal union, although the three kingdoms remained separate states. On 12 April 1606, a new flag to represent this regal union between England and Scotland was specified in a royal decree, according to which the flag of England (a red cross on a white background, known as St George's Cross), and the flag of Scotland (a white saltire on a blue background, known as the Saltire or St Andrew's Cross), would be joined together, forming the flag of England and Scotland for maritime purposes. King James also began to refer to a "Kingdom of Great Britaine", although the union remained a personal one.

The present design of the Union Flag dates from a Royal proclamation following the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three older national flags: the red cross of St George for the Kingdom of England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland (which two were united in the first Union Flag), and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland.

Notably, the home country of Wales is not represented separately in the Union Flag, as the flag was designed after the invasion of Wales in 1282. Hence Wales as a home country today has no representation on the flag; it appears under the cross of St George, which represents the former Kingdom of England (which included Wales).

Union Jack (disambiguation)

The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the flag of the United Kingdom.

Union Jack may also refer to:

Union Jack of Norway and Sweden, a navy jack and consular flag (1844–1905)

Jack of the United States, a navy jack

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