12th April 1606. Flying the Flag.

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into England politically by Henry VIII in 1536 so does not feature on the Union Flag or the Royal Standard.

The Union Jack, as it is better known, was first proclaimed in Royal Decree by James I(VI) Today in 1606.

Union Flag.

Modern Union Flag and English Flag of St. George.

The Scottish King’s attempt to meld Scotland and England under one flag failed owing to vested interests, so the ships of the two countries used their own ‘Jacks’ on the Bow-Jack-Staff.

The new flag designed by the Heralds had the Crosses of George and Andrew which was flown from the top of the ship’s Main-Mast; the English also had the St. George Flag at the Foremast, the Scots using that of Andrew.(1)

The name ‘Union Flag’ was not to be used until 1625 when it was first flown on land. 

Cromwell’s Commonwealth new ensign dropped the Cross of Andrew and added the Yellow Harp of Ireland.

Flag of Cromwell's Commonwealth Naval Forces 1658.

Flag of Cromwell’s Commonwealth Naval Forces 1658 combining Flags of George, Andrew and the Irish Harp.

In 1658 under the Lord Protector, we have the Great Union Flag (see left), combining Saints George and Andrew and the Irish Harp, which was displayed at his funeral.

Charles II at the Restoration in 1660, restored the flag of James I, now called the ‘Union Jack’, which saw the removal of the Irish Harp.

This continued to 1801, when it was necessary to add St.Patrick. on the unification of the Irish Parliament to Westminster.(2)


Early designs now held by National Library of Scotland.

Early designs now held by National Library of Scotland.

However the Union Jack was rarely seen flying on land until the many Jubilees of Queen Victoria and not until 1908 was it stated in the House of Lords that ‘there is no objection to any British subject using the Union Jack ashore’.

(1) Early designs for uniting the flags of St. Andrew and St.George were chosen and marked by the then Earl of Nottingham, with the words: ‘In my poor opinion this will be the fittest for this is like man and wife without blemish unto other’.

(2) The Union Flag was to incorporate the red on white cross of St. Patrick which were probably from the arms of the powerful and largely pro-English Fitzgerald Family.


The slightly asymmetrical modern design reflects the Order of Precedence of England in the two kingdoms, with the red projecting beyond the recessive blue, dooming St. Andrew’s Cross to be read as ‘background’, a precedence seen in our hereditary peerage: England, Scotland.

The White Cross of Patrick anachronistically is still retained on the Union Flag owing to the cost of modification.

Ref: wikipedia.org/union_jack.

Ref: knowbritain.com/union-jack.

Ref: historytoday.com. Richard Cavendish. First Union Jack. 56 Issue. 4.4.2006/Pic of Flags.

Ref: wikipedia.org/flags_of_interregnum/Pic Image.

Ref: sovereignty.org.uk/1604 Flags Pic.





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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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