Little Bits of History

Union Jack

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2011

Union Jack

April 12, 1606: Great Britain adopts the Union Flag. The flag is also called the Union Jack. It is officially called the Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the national flag of the country and maintains a semi-official status in some of the Commonwealth Realms. It is used in some of the smaller British overseas territories as their official flag, as well. It was last redesigned in 1801. The red, white, and blue flag is a field of blue with a red and white X and a red and white + sign atop it.

In 1606, the flag was the flag of England although not the flag of Scotland. James VI of Scotland had become James I of England in 1603 after Queen Elizabeth left the throne without a direct heir. The Tudor line went to the Stuarts and James came south. The flag of the time was to memorialize the uniting of England, Scotland, and Ireland although the three remained separate states. The blue background with red and white + sign or St. George’s Cross was present, but the X or St. Andrew’s Cross was completely white.

St. George was the patron saint of England and St. Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland. In the 1500s, the Scottish flag was a dark blue background with a white cross and England’s was a white background with the red plus sign. This new flag merged the two. The Scots were not particularly pleased with the topping of the St. George’s Cross over St. Andrew’s Cross. By 1704, their unofficial flag was a lighter blue background than their British neighbors with a white St. Andrew’s Cross atop a red and white St. George’s Cross.

At this time, the Irish flag held a white field with St. Patrick’s Cross which was the same as St. Andrew’s Cross except it was red. During the next design change in 1801, the three saints’ flags were combined with the red and white colors of St. Andrew and St. Patrick merged while the Cross of St George remained the top cross. The current flag has its detractors. There have been pushes to redesign the standard. In 2003 a private individual wanted to include a black stripe to incorporate racial elements. This was not approved. In 2007, it was pointed out that no uniquely Welsh aspect is contained in the flag. Debate over whether or not to include Wales in the flag continues and there are options of including a Red Dragon or perhaps a leek.

“Give immediate instruction to all your posts in said territory, under your direction, at no time and on no pretence to hoist, or suffer be hoisted, the English flag.” – Zebulon Pike

“For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making.” – Franklin Knight Lane

“The people of England are the most enthusiastic in the world.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals of the Victorians.” – H. P. Lovecraft

Also on this day:
Jerry Did Good – In 1996 Yahoo! goes public.
Polio Vaccine – In 1955, Jonas Salk’s vaccine was approved.

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