Monday, 31 July 2017

Flag of the Week: United Kingdom

As promised last week, I'll be regularly presenting some of the world's flags. This week I've picked the flag of the United Kingdom. I consider this to be one of the world's most attractive flags. Some of my readers might accuse me of being biased, since this is the country where I was born, but it's not true. I'm fast to admit that Albania's flag is more attractive.

The flag, which has been in use since 1801, is a combination of three previously existing flags.

The flag of England, St. George's Cross

The flag of Scotland, St. Andrew's Cross

The old flag of Ireland, St. Patrick's Cross

If the three flags had simply been super-imposed on one another, the white of the Scottish flag would have been lost and the result would have looked like a star, removing all similarity to the three original crosses. For this reason all three of the original flags were modified.

The St. George's Cross was given a white border.

The blue of the St. Andrews Cross was made darker.

The St. Patrick's Cross was made thinner, and its four lines were each shifted anti-clockwise.

This leads to the lack of symmetry that makes the flag so appealing. It also makes the flag difficult to draw. It's the world's misrepresented flag, often drawn symmetrically on web sites. I refuse to give any examples. Look for yourself if you're interested.

There's an urban legend that the flag should be called the Union Jack when it's used on a ship, and the Union Flag when it's used on land. It's uncertain when this myth began, but it's been perpetuated by being repeated in an episode of "Doctor Who".

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