Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Flag of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland uses as its national flag the Royal Banner commonly known as the Union Jack, or more properly Union Flag as it only becomes a Jack when flown at sea.
The current design of the Union Flag or Jack dates from the union of Ireland and Great Britain in 1801 with the formation of the United Kingdom. The history and nomenclature of this flag, the pre-1801 version, and its use other than as a flag for the United Kingdom (for example, in Australia), and the white bordered Pilot Jack (now permitted for civilian use as a jack) are treated more fully under the article Union Jack.
The Court of the Lord Lyon, which has criminal jurisdiction in heraldic matters in Scotland, confirms that the Union Flag popularly called "The Union Jack", is the correct flag for all citizens and corporate bodies of the United Kingdom to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and their nationality.
Its correct proportions are 1:2. However, the version officially used by the British Army modifies the proportions to 3:5.
A careful examination of the flag shows that, contrary to popular belief, the flag is not symmetrical and has a right side and a wrong side up. A mnemonic to remind those flying the flag which end is up is Wide white top - the broad white stripe (composing part of the cross of Saint Andrew) should be above the red stripe (the cross of Saint Patrick) in the upper hoist of the flag (the hoist is the half of the flag near the flagpole). This is particularly important because the flag is flown upside down as a distress signal.
The so-called Cross of Saint Patrick was invented to fit the Union Flag, possibly drawing from the FitzGerald arms. Little evidence of its use in Ireland with any association to Patrick exists, although the proto-fascist Blue Shirts of the 1930s did adopt it as a symbol.
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