History of the United Kingdom National Flag

Mar 24th, 2016

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All of those areas have been considered individual nations for centuries. Even so, they fall under the collective umbrella of the United Kingdom and, as a result, are under the control of the United Kingdom Parliament. The Queen of the British monarchy is the United Kingdom’s head of state.

In 1606, it was decided that a flag of Great Britain should be created after when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. Since the king then represented two realms, he felt that it should be reflected in a new flag design. The design that was adopted included the England’s red St. George’s cross flag design superimposed on Scotland’s St. Andrew’s white cross and blue background flag – the patron saints of each country. The new flag represented respect for each realm’s identity.


United Kingdom First Flag


The above flag continued to be used to represent Great Britain until 1801 when Ireland became part of Great Britain. At that time, a new flag was designed to include Ireland’s cross of St. Patrick. That design is still in use today.


United Kingdom Flag


In 1908, the Parliament of the United Kingdom approved the name “Union Jack” as the official name of its national flag because that name represents an expression of the union of nations. The flag incorporates the flags of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales was never a country and was already united to England when King James created the first new flag design in 1606. The Union Jack is less commonly referred to as the Union flag.


Tidbit: The flag that was designed by King James caused a controversy between the newly united realms. England was unhappy that the white background of its red cross was replaced by Scotland’s blue background. Scotland was unhappy that England’s red cross had been superimposed on its white cross.


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