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The Union Flag

 

The Union Flag (or Jack, to use its naval term) is possibly the flag with the most specifications that we will cover in this website. To start with the flag’s dimensions if flown correctly are 2:1, so if your flag is 3 feet in width, the length must be 6 feet.

 

The Union Flag has also undergone through the most changes and has been flown the most different ways. In 1603, the Union of the Crown of Scotland and England took into effect, in 1606, the Union Flag was made up of a St Andrews Cross background with a St George in the foreground, although that is only half the story, in Scotland there was an unofficial flag that promoted the St Andrews cross to the foreground that was flown in Scotland. This flag is traditionally just called the Flag of Great Britain.

 

The next flag to emerge was the protectorate flag which was the 1606 flag with an Irish ensign on the middle where the St George Cross met. It was joined with the “Arms of Ireland to represent the entire island.

 

In 1801 the cross of St Patrick was added to the Union Flag to show a similar design to what we have today. It was at that stage the flag of the Island’s of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922, the flag became to represent the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

 

The flag is also found in the “canton” the upper left hand corner of many national flags that have either had protectorate status or have been part of the British Commonwealth at some time. Current examples of these flags are New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Tuvalu, Fiji and Bermuda. Not to mention many ensigns and flags of Armed forces that were operating under British protection.

 

The flag was also used in the canton for flags that have been retired such as South Africa, Canada, Kenya, Palestine, Cyprus, Burma and Hong Kong.

 

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the flag is favoured by Unionists. (People who want to keep the UK as the UK and do not favour a separation of either Northern Ireland or Scotland from the United Kingdom) In recent years it has also been favoured by the far right political parties. We of course do not endorse this use of the flag.

 

In the United Kingdom the flag has to be flown in the “most superior position” and there is a correct way to fly the flag, flying it the wrong way round or upside down indicates distress. There are also certain flag days where the Union Flag is to be flown. (In Scotland the notable exception is St Andrews Day, if only one flagpole is available)

 

The Flag is the main flag associated with the Armed Forces of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is also the flag that represents the UK in the European Union.

 

William S. Mc Cafferty