This was a picture taken whilst shopping in Tesco today. There are union jack flags everywhere you look at the moment in the UK. The Olympics has not even started yet – the reason there are so many flags already is, of course, the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen taking the throne of the UK. The red, white and blue colours of the union flag – red = Pantone 186 (C), blue = Pantone 280 (C) – derive from a combination of the three flags from England, Scotland and Ireland.
When Queen Elizabeth I died, the scottish king James (King James VI of Scotland) inherited the throne of England and became James I. James I proclaimed himself King of Great Britain and essentially unified England and Scotland. But which flag to use? A new flag was created that was a combination of the previous two and known as the Union flag. A white boarder was added around the red cross because the rules of heraldry demanded that two colours must never touch each other.
The union flag was used at sea from 1606 but became the national flag of Great Britain in 1707 under the reign of Queen Anne. We now had the United Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801 Ireland became part of the United Kingdom. The Irish flag had been a diagonal red cross on a white background.
The name was later changed to United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when the greater part of Ireland left the United Kingdom in 1921.
Why is Wales not represented in the Union Jack? To read why this is please visit here.