The flag of the United Kingdom has three colors: red, white and blue. They exist within a combination of red crosses with white edges and a blue background. White stripes edge the front red cross which superimposes onto another red diagonal cross. The two red crosses align proportionally on top of the blue field which has a white saltire. The flag is also known as the “Union Flag” and is also nicknamed the “Union Jack”. The Union Flag’s standard height to length ratio is 1:2, however, the war flag variant that the British Army uses has a height to length ratio of 3:5. Great Britain adopted the flag in 1801.
The Union Flag draws from three different flags which represent three of the four constituent countries that make up the UK. The front red cross edged white represents the Cross of Saint George who remains the saint patron of England. The red diagonal cross stands for the Cross of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland while the blue field with a white diagonal cross represents the saltire of Saint Andrew, Scotland’s patron saint. Wales is absent because it was not in the UK when Union Jack was designed. The white symbolizes peace and honesty, red symbolizes bravery, strength, and valor while the blue is for vigilance, truth, loyalty, perseverance and justice.
There is no single individual who owns the credits for designing the current Union flag. However, the flag saw the light of day by a Royal proclamation which the Monarchy and members of Privy Council issued and officially adopted in 1801. The council is a formal body of advisers to the Monarch of the UK and comprises of senior politicians who are either seating or former members of Parliament. The proclamation issued particulars of the flag dictating the color to be blue with the Crosses of Saints Andrew, Patrick, and George.
When King James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne and became James I of England, there was a need to have a common flag for the newly formed Great Britain. In 1606, King James established a flag, which was a combination of the two territories’ flags, by a proclamation. The flag, referred to as “Great Union,” consisted of the Red Cross of Saint George and the saltire of Saint Andrew. Before the entry of Northern Island, the flag had no red saltire and Scotland had also presented their unofficial version of the flag that had the white saltire at the front of the others. The current flag was a product of redesigning the Great Union flag to incorporate the red diagonal cross of Saint Patrick in 1801.
This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018
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