Flag of Great Britain

Flag of Great Britain
Country United Kingdom
Population 67,736,802 (2023)
Area (Km²) 241,930 (2023)
Сontinent Europe
Emoji 🇬🇧
  hex rgb
#FFFFFF 255, 255, 255
#C8102E 200, 16, 46
#012169 1, 33, 105

The national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, consisting of the red cross of the flag of England, the diagonal white cross of Scotland, and the red of Ireland, is commonly known as the Union Jack.

The Union Jack has been the national flag of the United Kingdom since 1801, when it was approved by George III. Although there is no written law that makes it the official flag, it has become so through precedent. The well-known red, blue and white colors, as well as the crosses and stripes, make the flag instantly recognizable. In addition to the UK, there are a number of smaller British overseas territories that use the Union Jack as their official flag. And it can be found on the national flags of many other countries. Canada also recognizes this flag, but calls it the Royal Union Jack.

Meaning of the colors of the UK flag

  • The color blue symbolizes truth, loyalty and justice. The blue base of the flag is represented in the Scottish St. Andrew's Cross, which emphasizes the values and unwavering determination of the nation; 
  • the red color stands for fortitude and courage. It is present in the cross of St. George for England and St. Patrick for Ireland. This color emphasizes the valor and resilience that is characteristic of the history of Great Britain and its people;
  • white symbolizes peace and honesty. It serves as a backdrop for the red crosses, emphasizing purity and righteousness in the national identity.

All three colors together form the flag, which is a symbol of the shared values and principles that the nation is proud of.

What are the elements of the British flag?


What does the British flag consist of and what does it look like?

"The Union Jack" consists of three national flags representing England, Scotland, and Ireland. Despite being part of the United Kingdom, Wales does not have the famous red dragon on its flag. This is explained by the fact that Wales has historically been part of England and should not be considered a separate entity.

  1. The flag of England (St. George's Cross) is a red cross on a white background; the saint himself has been the patron saint of England since the 1270s;
  2. The flag of Scotland is an x-shaped cross of St. Andrew on a blue background;
  3. The flag of the union of England and Scotland. The cross of St. George was joined to the cross of St. Andrew in 1606 after the accession of James I;
  4. The cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is a white field with a diagonal red cross;
  5. The flag of the United Kingdom (officially called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, abbreviated as the United Kingdom). After the Act of Union of Ireland with England (and Wales) and Scotland on January 1, 1801, this St. Patrick's Cross was combined with the old Union Flag of St. George and St. Andrew to form the Union Flag, which has been flown ever since.

What is the correct name for the British flag?

The flag of Great Britain is commonly known as the Union Jack. But is it correct? History shows that this term has been actively used for hundreds of years. Jack refers to flags that are hoisted on ships. These flags are placed in the bow of the ship on a short mast, which is a vertical pole. If the flag was raised on land, it is the "Union Flag".

Many other derivations of "jack" have also been proposed. Some argue that it could be a contraction of "jack'et" worn by royal soldiers, or "Jacobus," a Latinized version of the name of James I, the king who first united England and Scotland with a flag.

James I actually meant "British Flag", and the terms "Union Flag" and "Union Jack" only became popular later. During the 17th and 18th centuries, national flags were traditionally raised only on ships, so the term "Union Jack" naturally became identified with the naval flag. But this distinction was not entirely clear. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was allowed to use both the Union Flag and the Union Jack, and this was approved by Parliament in 1908. Therefore, it is quite acceptable to describe the flag, both at sea and on land, by its popular name - "Union Jack".

Interesting fact about Union Jack

At first glance, the flag looks symmetrical, but a closer look reveals a slight difference between the crosses of St. Patrick and St. Andrew. The St. Patrick's cross is slightly offset so that the St. Andrew's cross does not look like a white outline. The asymmetry maintains the status of Scotland, at least in terms of heraldry.It is the little things that make a big difference. That's why there is a right and a wrong way to fly the flag. An upside-down Union Flag can be seen as an offensive gesture. To fly it correctly, make sure that the red line in the upper left corner is at the bottom of the white St. Andrew's cross.

History of the flag of the United Kingdom

Britain was a part of the Roman Empire, but after its withdrawal in 410, Germanic tribes, in particular the Angles, began to occupy the territory. Therefore, this territory was called England. In 596, the Pope sent Abbot Augustine to Britain with a group of monks to spread Christianity, and he became the Archbishop of Canterbury. At that time, the Eastern Roman Empire had the largest territorial expansion, and Constantinople was an important trade center and influential city. Therefore, the alliance with Byzantium was beneficial for Britain, and the symbol of this alliance was a white flag with a red cross, borrowed from the Byzantine flag. This symbol was simple and visible, and was used on allied ships and territories.

In the early 11th century, the Seljuks penetrated from Central Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean and threatened Constantinople, stopping trade with India and China. In 1095, Pope Urban II declared a crusade during which people were to wear a white flag with a red cross. The white color symbolized purity and loyalty to Christianity, and the red cross symbolized the suffering and shed blood of Jesus Christ and the martyrs. One of the main patrons of the crusaders and knights is St. George. King Richard I, known as the Lionheart, joined the Crusade of 1189-1192, where he defeated Saladin twice and concluded a truce with him, saving Jerusalem. Upon his return to England, St. George became the patron saint of the country. Since 1222, St. George's Day has been celebrated in England, and since 1415 it has become one of the most important holidays of the year, symbolized by the St. George's Cross, a white flag with a red cross.

History of the flag of the United Kingdom

In 1603, James VI, the Scottish king, became the ruler of England after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. From 1707 to 1801, the United Kingdom of England and Scotland existed as independent states under a common flag that merged the flag of England with the flag of Scotland. The cross of St. Andrew, which was the symbol of Scotland, was combined with the cross of St. George, the symbol of England. According to legend, during a battle in the 8th century, the Scots saw a cloud in the sky in the shape of a cross. After the victory in the battle, the Scots recognized St. Andrew as their patron saint and began to use a blue flag with a white diagonal cross - the cross of St. Andrew. After the suppression of the Irish rebellion, the Union united England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1801.

In 1922, a large part of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom, which was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but the name of the flag, the Union Jack, remained unchanged. It is worth noting that the Cross of St. Patrick is used as an independent symbol of Ireland and has historical significance for the Irish.