“In theory it’s a free for all”

A fascinating article on the 400-year history of the union jack online at the BBC magazine, which has already generated plenty of controversy in the comments there. But, apart from the claim in the article that “For the record, the BBC website disregards the term “union flag” because of its “great potential for confusion”, preferring union jack (in lower case).” [Really?!! How interesting.. Hmm.. – Ed], the article also links to 6 early designs drawn up for consideration by James I using just the English and Scottish flags of the time, none of which were ultimately chosen, and notes the refusal of some Scots to accept his final decision.And some interesting points on the official position of the flag, which may have some relevance here –

No act of Parliament enshrines it as such – most countries have flag acts that set out, to the last detail, rules about their national flags. The best authority is cited in two spoken answers in Parliament – one from 1908, the other in 1933.

“There’s nothing straightforward about the history. It has been adopted as our national flag without any national authority,” says Mr Farrow. “Neither you or I can fly it from a boat, whereas every other country in the world, the first thing a citizen can do is fly their national flag at sea.

“And while there are many rules that govern its use at sea, there’s nothing, not a jot, to say how the flag should be used on land – its proportions, its colours, when it can be flown, where it can be flown.”

  • Harry Flashman

    Er, Pete I think the thread above you is already covering this.

  • Mick

    Be fair Harry, Pete got in first…

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    The more the merrier that are talking about THAT flag. People are starting to see what I’ve been talking and campaigning about for years…the union jack lays claim to Ireland and it’s time the cross of St. Patrick is removed from the flag. It’s a great day dawning….

  • Pete Baker


    Indeed. Although I expect Gonzo’s post appeared while I was still in the process of editing this one.

    Still, the highlighted extracts may be of interest to some…

  • Belfast Gonzo

    That looks like the case.

    Didn’t see yours until mine was up. Then I had to run for the bus and couldn’t remove it, and now there’s quite a few comments under mine, so it’s maybe best left.


  • interesting

    Just on the subject of flags, if a united ireland were ever to come about, the absolute minimum i would be prepared to accept is a union jack 1/5th size of the flag, to be placed in the centre of the tricolour, to represent the 20% british population of the island. Similar to other countries, eg Australia. I would be interested to hear genuine nationalist views on this idea ?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    What about a Union Jack with ‘Inc. Ireland’ at the bottom corner (in brackets) once we get Joint Authority(!)


  • smcgiff

    ‘i would be prepared to accept is a union jack 1/5th size of the flag, to be placed in the centre of the tricolour, to represent the 20% british population of the island.’

    Well, if you take the view that the orange in the Irish tri-colour is meant to represent the unionists then that gives greater scope, especially as it isn’t enough for said unionists. How about removing the orange and… gulp including the union flag. So, it’d be Green White and Union flag… Anyone good at photoshop?

    Now, whether the union flag part was the version prior to the inclusion of St Patrick’s saltier is debatable and would probably depend on what Britain would have as their flag if such a scenario was ever to come about.