FLAGS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
 


 
HISTORY AT THE HOIST    PAGE ONE
 
NATIONAL FLAGS & ENSIGNS    ROYAL STANDARDS & FLAGS    GOVERNMENT FLAGS & ENSIGNS    SUBNATIONAL FLAGS
 

Notes
 

The flags of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are uniquely reflective of the nation's history. Much of the symbology they embody may be traced to ancient times, e.g. the Royal Standard, which incorporates the arms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Ireland and the national flag, the Union Flag or Union Jack, is an amalgam of three earlier flags. In addition to national flags and ensigns the constituent parts of the UK, including regions and localities, have their own, as do government departments and private entities of all kinds.

Note: Due to the large number of flags presented this section is divided into three pages. Page Two is here. Page Three is here. For military and naval flags of Great Britain see here.
 



 

NATIONAL FLAGS & ENSIGNS

 

NATIONAL FLAG    THE UNION FLAG

 

CIVIL ENSIGN    THE RED ENSIGN

 

CIVIL JACK

 

CIVIL AIR ENSIGN

The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack (UJ), incorporates the flags of England, Scotland and Ireland in a single design, giving symbolic expression to the union of the crowns in the United Kingdom. See here for more information. The Red Ensign dates from the mid-seventeenth century. With the Blue and White Ensigns it was one of the three naval flags of England, bearing the cross of St. George in the canton. This was changed to the Union Flag in 1707 and in 1864, when British naval flags were revised, the Red Ensign was reserved for civilian vessels. See here for more information. The 1864 order restricted the use of the UJ at sea to the Royal Navy alone. Accordingly, a white-bordered UJ was introduced for civilian vessels. The Civil Air ensign was introduced in 1931. It may be flown flown at civilian airfields in place of the UJ and may also be displayed on UK-registered civil aircraft.

 

ROYAL STANDARDS & FLAGS

 

H.M THE QUEEN

 

H.M THE QUEEN IN SCOTLAND

 

LORD LIEUTENANT OF A COUNTY

 

CROWN REPRESENTATIVES IN SCOTLAND

 

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

The Royal Standard in its present form dates from the reign of Queen Victoria. Two versions exist: one for the Sovereign's use in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and one for for use in Scotland. The former displays the arms of England in the first and fourth quarters, Scotland in the second quarter and Ireland in the third quarter. The latter gives primacy to Scotland. Other members of the Royal Family have standards based on that of the sovereign but with labels to difference them. Note that crimson is used in place of red. See here for historical royal banners and standards. Lords lieutenant are the Crown's representatives in the counties. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland their standard is the UJ defaced with a crown and sword, the latter recalling their past responsibilities regarding the militia. The standard for Crown representatives in Scotland, including the lords-lieutenant, is the Scottish royal flag, which is also flown over royal residences in Scotland when the Sovereign is not present. The Duchy of Lancaster in northwest England is the private estate of the Sovereign, the income from which provides the Crown with an independent source of income. The ducal standard displays the arms of England defaced with a three-point label.

 

GOVERNMENT FLAGS & ENSIGNS

 

EMBASSIES OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

 

GOVERNMENT ENSIGN

 

UNITED KINGDOM BORDER AGENCY ENSIGN

 

DEPARTMENT OF TRADE & INDUSTRY ENSIGN

The flag for embassies and other diplomatic facilities of the United Kingdom is the UJ defaced with the State Arms. These differ from the Royal Arms (the personal arms of the Sovereign) by bearing as a crest a crown rather than the Royal Crest (a crowned lion standing on a crown). The same flag, with the appropriate coat of arms, is used by governors of Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. Most government departments and agencies have a Blue Ensign bearing their badge; those that do not use a Blue Ensign with a horizontal anchor. In most cases a square version of the ensign is used as a jack.

 

SUBNATIONAL FLAGS & ENSIGNS

 

ENGLAND    THE CROSS OF ST. GEORGE

 

SCOTLAND    THE CROSS OF ST. ANDREW

 

IRELAND    THE CROSS OF ST. PATRICK

The constituent parts of the United Kingdom are England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The first two were formerly separate kingdoms, in personal union under the Stuart Crown from 1606 and joined to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Ireland's status as a separate kingdom with its own parliament was terminated in 1801 when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was proclaimed. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 only Ulster (Northern Ireland) stayed in the UK, the Protestant majority of that province rejecting Irish nationalism. The flags of England and Ireland are those of the countries' patron saints; they were amalgamated in 1606 to form the first version of the Union Jack. To symbolize Ireland the so-called St. Patrick's Cross, white with a diagonal red cross, was added to the UJ in 1801.

 

NORTHERN IRELAND    UNOFFICIAL SINCE 1972

 

NORTHERN IRELAND    UNOFFICIAL VARIANT

In Northern Ireland after 1922 the flag of the province was the Cross of St. George charged with the red hand badge of Ulster under a royal crown. This flag lost its official status in 1922 when the British government suppressed the Northern Ireland parliament and imposed direct rule but is still used by the Protestant community. A variant adds the UJ as a canton. Northern Ireland's official flag is now the UJ.

 

WALES    THE DRAGON FLAG

 

WALES    THE CROSS OF ST. DAVID

Because Wales is a principality within England it is not represented in the UJ. The Welsh flag, official since 1959, displays the red dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, on a field of the Tudor liver colors. At the Battle of Bosworth (1485) a similar banner was carried by the army of Henry of Bolingbroke, afterwards the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII. To symbolize his Welsh descent, Henry incorporated the red dragon as a supporter of his royal arms. St. David is the patron saint of Wales. His flag, though unofficial, has since the 1990s been a popular symbol of Welsh patriotism.




FORWARD to PAGE TWO

BACK to HISTORICAL FLAGS Index Page