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The flag of the United Kingdom, often called the Union Jack (although officially called the Union Flag) or the Royal Union in Canada, consists of the Cross of St. George (Patron saint of England) edged in white, superimposed on the diagonal red saltire of St. Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which are superimposed on the saltire of St. Andrew (patron saint of Scotland).

History[]

Union Jack[]

One suggested redesign of the Union Jack with the red dragon from the flag of Wales added in the centre[2]

Another suggestion on incorporating Wales into the Union Jack, with the white backdrop on the St George's Cross being replaced with the yellow from the Flag of St David

The history of the Union Flag

Comprising of symbols of each of the three kingdoms of the British Isles (Wales, being a principality, is not represented) the flag of the United Kingdom is meant to be a unifying flag for all of these kingdoms. The first Union Flag was made when king James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne and desired a flag that would represent all of his realm. This was achieved by superimposing the English cross of St. George on the Scottish cross of St. Andrew, creating the first Union Flag. The flag was only for unofficial use until 1707, when Queen Anne authorized the flag for use on land and on sea. In 1649, when Oliver Cromwell established the Commonwealth, he had Ireland's golden harp superimposed on the English cross to represent his brutal conquest. This was taken off in the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. The second iteration of the Union Flag was made when with the Act of Union of 1800 the Kingdom of Ireland was merged with the United Kingdom. The cross of St. Patrick was added to the first Union Flag to symbolize this part of the kingdom, creating the second Union Flag. and the Union Flag has remained unchanged since then.

In 2014, when the first Scottish independence referendum was held, real fears for the Union Flag's continuity were voiced. If Scotland were to leave the Union, the blue background and white saltire would be removed, leaving a white background and two red crosses. Several replacement flags have been suggested, some even attempting to include Wales's Dragon flag (a white top, green bottom, red dragon superimposed over top) or the Welsh cross (black background with yellow cross).

With the Brexit law being passed, real concern toward the future of the UK has been put forward. Scotland has stated in the past that if the UK leaves the European Union, then they would leave the UK. This would mean a cause for a new flag, as Scotland's flag is very strongly integrated into the overall design of the flag.

Red Ensign[]

The Red Ensign or the "Red Duster" is the flag flown by British merchant or passenger ships since 1707. Prior to 1707, an English red ensign and a Scottish red ensign were flown by the English Royal Navy and the Royal Scots Navy, respectively. The precise date of the first appearance of these earlier red ensigns is not known, but surviving payment receipts indicate that the English navy was paying to have such flags sewn in the 1620s.[3] The flag today is still used by the United Kingdom and some of its former or current colonies (Australia, Gibraltar, Bermuda) as a state ensign.

Blue ensign[]

The Blue Ensign is one of many British ensigns. Its evolution followed Union Jack changes.

White ensign[]

Nickname[]

  • In the Chinese language, the flag has the nickname Rice-Character Flag (米字旗; Mandarin Pinyin: mǐzìqí, Cantonese Jyutping: mai5zi6kei4), since the pattern looks like the Chinese character for "rice" (米)
  • The Butcher's Apron is a pejorative term for the flag, common among Irish republicans, citing the blood-streaked appearance of the flag and referring to atrocities committed in Ireland and other countries under British colonial rule.

Trivia[]

  • The term "Union Jack" is often said to be only valid when used by the British Navy. [4]

    The flag flying upside down

  • The flag is not symmetrical, the diagonal lines would not join if they were extended.
  • Sometimes, the flag is mistakenly flown upside down even though it’s not a distress signal.

References[]

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European Nations[]

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