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Flag of the United Kingdom

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{{dablink| The history, current status, and nomenclature of the Union Flag, and its use other than as a flag for the United Kingdom (for example, in Australia), are treated more fully under the article [[Union Flag]].}} {{Use British English|date=August 2011}} {{Use dmy dates|date=August 2011}} The [[United Kingdom]] of [[Great Britain]] and [[Northern Ireland]] uses as its national flag the royal banner known as the '''[[Union Flag]]''' or, popularly, '''Union Jack'''. The current design of the Union Flag dates from the [[Act of Union 1800|union of Ireland and Great Britain]] in 1801. It consists of the [[St George's Cross|red cross]] of [[Saint George]] ([[patron saint]] of England), edged in white, superimposed on the [[Saint Patrick's Flag|Cross of]] [[St Patrick]] (patron saint of Ireland), which are superimposed on the [[Flag of Scotland|Saltire]] of [[Saint Andrew]] (patron saint of [[Scotland]]). Wales, however, is not represented in the Union Flag by Wales' patron saint, [[Saint David]], as at the time the flag was designed Wales was part of the [[Kingdom of England]]. Its correct proportions are 1:2. However, the version officially used by the [[British Army]] modifies the proportions to 3:5, and additionally two of the red diagonals are cropped. ==History== {{Main|Union Flag}} [[Proclamation]] of [[James I of England]], [[King of Scots]]: [[Orders in Council]]; Official creation of the Union Flag – 1606. :QUOTE – ''"By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Council, ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and [[Kingdom of Great Britain|Kingdome of Great Britaine]], and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the [[Flag of England|Red Crosse]], commonly called [[St. George's Cross|St. George’s Crosse]], and the [[Flag of Scotland|White Crosse]], commonly called [[Flag of Scotland|St. Andrew’s Crosse]], joyned together according to the forme made by our [[herald]]s, and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed. – 1606."'' ==Flying the flag== {{Image label begin|image=Flags of the Union Jack.svg|width=|float=}} {{Image label small|x=0.03|y=0.23|scale=|text=[[Flag of England|St. George's Flag]] ([[England]])}} {{Image label small|x=0.44|y=0.23|scale=|text=[[Flag of Scotland|St. Andrew's Flag]] ([[Scotland]])}} {{Image label small|x=0.31|y=0.49|scale=|text=[[Kingdom of Great Britain|Great Britain]]}} {{Image label small|x=0.67|y=0.51|scale=|text=[[Saint Patrick's Saltire|St. Patrick's Flag]] ([[Kingdom of Ireland|Ireland]])}} {{Image label small|x=0.53|y=0.76|scale=|text=[[United Kingdom]]}} {{Image label end}} The Union Flag can be flown by any individual or organisation in Great Britain on any day of their choice. Legal regulations restrict the use of the [[Union Flag]] on Government buildings in [[Northern Ireland]]. Long-standing restrictions on Government use of the flag elsewhere were abolished in July 2007. ===Upside-down=== [[File:Union flag.jpg|thumb|right|220px|The Flag of the United Kingdom, the right way up, here viewed from behind.]] While the flag appears symmetric, the white lines above and below the diagonal red are different widths. On the side closest to the flagpole (or on the left when depicted on paper), the white lines above the diagonals are wider; on the side furthest from the flagpole (or on the right when depicted on paper), the converse is true. Thus, rotating the flag 180 degrees will effect no change, but if mirrored the flag will be upside-down. Placing the flag upside down is considered [[lèse majesté]] and is offensive to some, However, it can be flown upside down as a distress signal. While this is rare, it was used by groups under siege during the [[Boer War]] and during campaigns in India in the late 18th century. ===St Patrick's saltire=== The only reason that the UK flag is not symmetrical is because of the relative positions of the saltires of St Patrick and St. Andrew. The red saltire of St Patrick is offset such that it doesn't relegate the white saltire of St. Andrew to a mere border for it. St. Andrew's saltire has the higher position at the hoist side, with St. Patrick's saltire in the higher position on the opposite side. ===Flag Days (United Kingdom Government)=== Until July 2007, the Union Flag was only flown on Government buildings on a limited number of special days each year. The choice of days was managed by the [[Department for Culture, Media and Sport]] (DCMS). Government buildings are those used by civil servants, [[the Crown]], or the armed forces. They were not applicable to private citizens, corporations, or local authorities. On 3 July 2007, the [[Justice Secretary]] [[Jack Straw]] laid a [[green paper]] before Parliament entitled ''The Governance of Britain''. Alongside a range of proposed changes to the constitutional arrangements of the UK was a specific announcement that there would be consultation on whether the rules on flag-flying on Government buildings should be relaxed. Two days later, Prime Minister [[Gordon Brown]] announced that with immediate effect the Union Flag would fly from the flag pole above the front entrance of [[10 Downing Street]] on every day of the year. The intention was to increase feelings of 'Britishness'. Other Government departments were asked to follow this lead, and all Government buildings in Whitehall did so. [[Scotland Yard]] however stated that they would follow the previous rules until they are formally abolished by DCMS. [[James Purnell]], [[Culture Secretary]] from June 2007 to January 2008 in Brown's administration, subsequently concurred with the abolition of the restrictions – pending consultation on longer term arrangements. ===Flag days=== [[File:Union Flag and St Georges Cross.jpg|thumb|The [[Flag of England]] flying alongside the Flag of the United Kingdom.]] Until July 2007, the Union Flag was only flown on days marking the birthdays of members of the [[British Royal Family|Royal Family]], the wedding anniversary of the Monarch, [[Commonwealth Day]], [[Accession Day]], [[Coronation Day]], [[Queen's Birthday|The Queen's official birthday]], [[Remembrance Sunday]] and on the days of the [[State Opening of Parliament|State Opening]] and [[legislative session#Procedure in Commonwealth realms|prorogation]] of [[Parliament of the United Kingdom|Parliament]]. The flag days when the Union Flag should be flown from government buildings all over the UK were: * 20 January: birthday of [[Sophie, Countess of Wessex|The Countess of Wessex]] * 6 February: anniversary of [[Elizabeth II|The Queen]]'s accession in 1952 * 19 February: birthday of [[Prince Andrew, Duke of York|The Duke of York]] * Second Sunday in March: [[Commonwealth Day]] * 10 March: birthday of [[Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex|The Earl of Wessex]] * 21 April: The Queen's birthday * 9 May: [[Europe Day]] * 2 June: anniversary of The Queen's 1953 [[Coronation Day|coronation]] * 10 June: birthday of [[Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh]] * A Saturday in June: [[Queen's Birthday|The Queen's Official Birthday]] * 17 July: birthday of [[Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall|The Duchess of Cornwall]] * 15 August: birthday of [[Anne, Princess Royal|The Princess Royal]] * Second Sunday in November: [[Remembrance Sunday]] * 14 November: birthday of [[Charles, Prince of Wales|The Prince of Wales]] * 20 November: anniversary of the wedding of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh [[File:Uk wales flags.jpg|thumb|The [[Flag of Wales]] flying alongside the Flag of the UK.]] In addition, the flag should be flown in the following areas on the specified days: * [[Wales]] – 1 March: [[Saint David's Day]] * [[Northern Ireland]] – 17 March: [[Saint Patrick's Day]] * England – 23 April: [[Saint George's Day]] * [[Scotland]] – 30 November: [[Saint Andrew's Day]] * [[Greater London]]: The day of the opening or proroguing of Parliament Some non central government bodies still continue to follow the flag days. ===Flag Days (Scottish Government)=== [[File:Flags outside Parliament.jpg|thumb|The [[Scottish Parliament]] flies the Union Flag, the Saltire, and the [[Flag of Europe|Flag of the European Union]].]] In Scotland, the [[Scottish Government]] has decreed that the [[Flag of Scotland]] ("the Saltire") will fly on all its buildings everyday from 8 am until sunset, but there is no specific policy on flying the Union Flag and as such it is sometimes flown alongside the Saltire and sometimes omitted. An exception is made for "national days". On these days, the Saltire shall be lowered and replaced with the Union Flag. These are the same as the flag days noted above with the exception of: * 3 September: [[Merchant Navy]] Day Another difference is that on [[Saint Andrew's Day]], the Union Flag can only be flown if the building has more than one flagpole – the Saltire will not be lowered to make way for the Union Flag if there is only one flagpole. ===Flag Days (Northern Ireland)=== In [[Northern Ireland]], the Union Flag is flown from buildings of the [[Northern Ireland Office]] as decreed by Regulations published in 2000. The Regulations were amended in 2002 to remove the requirement to fly the flag on the birthdays of [[Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother]] and [[Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon]] who both died that year. The current flag days are now the same as the United Kingdom government days noted above with the exception of the Duchess of Cornwall's birthday, which was only added to the UK flag days after her wedding to the Prince of Wales in 2005, and has not yet been extended to Northern Ireland. The [[Police Service of Northern Ireland]] is the only body in the United Kingdom that is not permitted to fly the Union Flag, and is only permitted to fly its service flag or the [[Royal Standard (United Kingdom)|Royal Standard]] in the event of a visit by the Sovereign. ===Half-mast=== The Union Flag is flown from Government buildings at [[half-mast]] in the following situations: *from the announcement of the death of the [[British monarch|Sovereign]] (an exception is made for [[Proclamation Day]] – the day the new Sovereign is proclaimed, when the Flag is flown at full staff from 11 am to sunset) *the day of the funeral of a member of the [[British Royal Family]] *the funeral of a foreign ruler *the funeral of a former [[Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|Prime Minister]] The Sovereign sometimes declares other days when the Union Flag is to fly at [[half-mast]]. Half-mast means the flag is flown two-thirds of the way up the flagpole with at least the height of the flag between the top of the flag and the top of the flagpole. ===Other bodies=== Individuals, companies, local authorities, hospitals, and schools are free to fly the flag whenever they choose. Planning permission is not required to fly the Union Flag from a [[flagpole]]. ==Flag redesign== In November 2007 the then culture minister [[Margaret Hodge]] said she would consider a redesign of the Union Flag to incorporate the [[Welsh dragon]], during a debate in the House of Commons on the frequency with which the flag flies above public buildings. The issue was initially raised by [[Ian Lucas]], another [[Labour Party (UK)|Labour]] MP, who complained that the flag introduced in 1606 following the accession of [[James VI of Scotland]] to the English throne as James I combined the cross of St George and the saltire of St Andrew. This principle continued in 1801 when the St Patrick cross was incorporated following the [[Union with Ireland Act 1800]]. Lucas claimed the identity of [[Wales]] had been suppressed ever since the [[Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542|Act of Union between England and Wales]] in 1536. In the debate, [[Albert Owen]] MP said that "we in Wales do not feel part of the union flag because the dragon or the cross of St David is not on it." [[Conservative Party (UK)|Conservative]] MP [[Stewart Jackson]] described the comments as "eccentric". ==See also== * [[Commonwealth Flag]] * [[Flag Institute]] * [[List of flags of the United Kingdom]] – a list of flags used within the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British overseas territories. ** [[List of English flags]] – a list of flags used within England ** [[List of Northern Irish flags]] – a list of flags used within Northern Ireland ** [[List of Scottish flags]] – a list of flags used within Scotland ** [[List of Welsh flags]] – a list of flags used within Wales ** [[List of Cornish flags]] - a list of flags used within [[Cornwall]] * [[List of flags of the Republic of Ireland|List of Irish flags]] – a list of flags used within the Republic of Ireland * [[National colours of the United Kingdom]] * [[Protectorate Jack]] * [[Union Flag]] ==External links== {{Commons category|Flags of the United Kingdom}} * [http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page5017.asp British Monarchy – Union Flag] * [http://www.flaginstitute.org The Flag Institute] * [http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/notes/snpc-04474.pdf The Union Flag and flags of the United Kingdom] * [http://militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?87264-War-Flags&p=2249202 British military flag and military color] * [http://www.bristolgrenadiers.org.uk/colours/colours.htm British Armed forces Grenadiers Color] * [http://www.flags.net/UNKG.htm World Flag Database – UK] {{-}} {{UKFlags}} {{Flag of Europe}} {{Union Flag}}