British Flag

British Flag



Flag of British - Description of the British Flag - The Union Jack
  • The flag of the United Kingdom is often referred to as the British flag, or given its full title the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • As the above picture of the British Flag indicates the colors of the British flag, or Union Jack, are red, white and blue - the actual background, or field, is blue
  • According to Ancient and Heraldic traditions much symbolism is associated with colors. The colors on the British flag represent the following:
    • White - peace and honesty
    • Red - hardiness, bravery, strength & valour
    • Blue - vigilance, truth and loyalty, perseverance & justice

  • The basic style shown in the picture of the British flag is described as a Cross reflecting the central design of the flag pattern
  • All Flag pictures depict flags flying, from the viewer's point of view, from left to right
  • The shape and flag ratio of the British flag is described as 1:2 ( length twice the height )
  • The British flag pictures a representation of the Patron Saints of England, Scotland and Ireland on a blue field as follows:
    • The red cross of Saint George,  the patron saint of England, edged in white
    • Superimposed on the diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick the patron saint of Ireland
    • Superimposed on the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland


  • To fly the British flag the correct way up, the broad white band of St. Andrew should be above the red band of St. Patrick in the upper-hoist canton
  • The Meaning & History of the the British Union Jack, or given its correct title the Union Flag, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. The British name "Union Jack"  derives from its early use as a 'jack' which is the small flag flown at the bow of a ship

Canton - Flag Terminology

Flag Terminology - Did you Know ?
  • The design and description uses specific flag terminology based on Heraldic principles
  • Animal blazons should always appear with the heads facing the flag - staff side
  • The Study of the Flags is called Vexillology
  • Your interest in flags makes you a Vexillologist!
  • Increase your knowledge - Play the Flag Quiz
British Flag Etiquette
  • British Flag etiquette is very strict and is is essential that Flag protocols and rules are followed correctly
  • Basic Flag Etiquette applies to all nations, including British as follows:
  • Etiquette relating to the order of precedence for the flag
    • National Flag
    • State Flag
    • Military Flag (in order of creation date)
    • Other Flag
  • The United Nations uses alphabetical order when presenting a national flag including the British Flag. Their flag etiquette ensures that no one country's flag has precedence over another country's flag
  • The National flag should never be flown above another national flag on the same staff as this would suggest superiority, or conversely, inferiority of one flag, or Nation, over another
  • The British flag should never be allowed to drag along the ground
  • A tattered or faded flag of British should be removed and replaced with a new flag
  • Due care and consideration must be taken to ensure that the British flag is always flown the correct way up
  • A Flag of British, when in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning in private with all due care and respect
Flag History & Evolution:
  • The idea of flying a flag grew from the requirements of ancient warfare and the battlefield
  • Shields were painted with emblems to identify Friend or Foe
  • Warriors needed to know where their leaders were - the custom of carrying a pole was adopted
  • An emblem such as a shield, animal or religious device was attached to the pole for identification
  • The emblems were also used for identity and to cover suits of armour - Coats of Arms  were born
  • These emblems were the forerunners of modern flags
  • The Romans were the first to use a cloth flag - they were square and fastened to cross bars at the end of spears - the idea of fastening a flag to the side of a pole soon followed
  • The strict rules of Heraldry are still used when designing an emblem and creating a flag
Terminology & Etiquette in British Flag display
  • Hoist - the act or function of raising the British flag, as on a rope
  • Half Staff or Half Mast - the British flag is hoisted to half of the potential height of the flag pole to denote grief and mourning
    • Performed by first raising the flag to the top, then lowering the Flag halfway
  • Distress - denoted by flying the British flag upside-down
  • Manner of hoisting - The British flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously
  • No disrespect should be shown to the British flag
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit the Flag to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way
  • The British flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing on the flag of any nature
  • The British flag should be hoisted first and lowered last
  • International Flag relating to Flag usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace
  • We hope that the presentation of facts and information regarding British Flag Etiquette has provided a useful resource.

Great Britain

Location: Western Europe, islands
including the northern one-sixth
of the island of Ireland between
the North Atlantic Ocean and
the North Sea, northwest
of France

National Flags of the World Map

Great Britain
  • Land Size : 244,820 sq km
  • Climate / Weather : temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast
  • Population of Great Britain : 60,776,238 (July 2007 est.)
  • Former Name(s) : N/A
  • Capital City of Great Britain : London
  • GDP of Great Britain : $1.664 trillion (2003 est.)
  • Main Industries :  machine tools, electric power & automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, food processing, textiles, clothing, and other consumer goods
  • Currency of Great Britain : British pound (GBP)
  • British Agricultural products : cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish
  • Main Colors of British Flag : Red, white and blue
Concise History of Great Britain and the British flag
  • Queen Elizabeth I ruled a divided nation. As the "Virgin Queen" she named the son of Mary Queen of Scots (her cousin) as her successor
  • James VI of Scotland therefore also became James I of England and on April 12, 1606
  • The first 'Union Flag' was created by using ecclesiastical heraldry by combining the red cross of St. George of England and the saltire of St. Andrew of Scotland
  • This was not a totally accurate representation of the flags as the blue background of the Scottish national flag is a lighter "sky" blue than the dark blue used on the Union Flag
  • The new Union flag was only for use at sea by the civil and military vessels of England and Scotland. It was intended to show common allegiance in the two countries to the monarch and Nation
  • The term "ensign", so often used in flag descriptions, is a flag that is flown (as by a ship) as the symbol of nationality
  • In 1649, after the execution of Charles I and dissolution of the British monarchy, Oliver Cromwell decreed that the use of the Union Flag was discontinued because it’s sole purpose was to show allegiance to the British crown by vessels in which it was flown
  • In 1660 the monarchy was restored and the Union flag was used specifically in the king's ships
  • 1707 - the kingdoms of England and Scotland were officially united in the Act of Union and
    the flag became "the ensign armorial of the United Kingdom of Great Britain"
  • January 1, 1801 marked the Act of Union with Ireland
  • The red saltire cross attributed to St. Patrick was added to represent Ireland however St Patrick was not a martyr and therefore no cross was ever ascribed to him
  • The red cross, attributed to St. Patrick, is in actual fact, part of the heraldic device of the Fitzgerald family crest
  • The Fitzgerald family were sent by the English King Henry II of England (1154-1189) to suppress the Irish in 1172
  • This flag has never been used as an emblem of Ireland by the Irish
  • Wales had been conquered by Edward I of England (1239 - 1307) and became incorporated into England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. Wales was therefore considered part of the kingdom of England and the Welsh flag never became part of the Union Jack Flag
  • The Union Flag was originally a royal flag rather than a British national flag
  • The Union Jack has never been made an official British civil flag by any legal process
  • It has become the British National Flag through usage, custom & practice
  • In 1908  it was stated in Parliament that "the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag"
  • In 1933 the Home Secretary, Sir J Gilmour, said “... the Union Flag is the national flag and may properly be flown by any British subject on land”
"Around the World in 80 minutes!"
  • A combination of information regarding a Nation's flag, History, Geography and Current Events provides an accurate snapshot of the evolution of each country
  • In just a short period of time this concise information with specific facts will improve your overall understanding of the great countries of the World
  • A useful Educational Resource accessed from the Index
  • You can go "Around the World in 80 minutes!"
The British Flag and Nation

We hope that the presentation of facts and information regarding the British Flag and Country has provided a useful educational resource. To improve your knowledge of Flags and Vexillology still further check out the Flag and Nations Index and test your knowledge with our interactive, multi-choice, picture-based Flag Trivia Quiz Game - it's fast and it's fun!


British Flag

British Flag - Picture - Information - Facts - History - British Flag - Emblem - Coat of Arms - Meaning - Colors - Flag Terminolgy and Protocol  - British Flag - Culture - Geography - Info - Picture - Information  - Pictures - Facts - History - Emblem - Coat of Arms - Meaning  - British Flag - Colors - Flag Terminolgy and Protocol - Hoist - Fly - Canton - Culture - Geography - Info - Picture - Outdoor Flags - house Flags - Military Flags - Historical Flags - Patriotic Flags - Buy Flags - Historic Flags - National Flags - Writtn By Linda Alchin