Talk:Union Jack

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Former good article nominee Union Jack was a Social sciences and society good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
June 23, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed

Ratio of flags in History section[edit]

In the "Since 1801" section, which includes a flowchart of the combination of crosses to form the current flag, the images used are in the 3:5 ratio instead of 1:2. Is this intentional? -- RealGrouchy (talk) 13:46, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Not symmetrical[edit]

Does anyone know why the Union Flag is not perfectly reflectionally symmetrical? I had always thought it was, until I read this article. Are there some hysterical raisins behind it? JIP | Talk 18:10, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Hysterical indeed. I don't know about reasons (or raisins, for that matter), but consider the following. The Cross of St. Patrick as it appears in the Union Flag now is styled so that, were the Cross of St George to be removed, it would not look like a cross. I think this is to avert ill luck or the suggestion of blasphemy in obscuring a Christian symbol (albeit by another cross). For people were very pious in former times: barbaric, maybe, but none is more pious than a barbarian.
Nuttyskin (talk) 16:13, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

The flag of Scotland is the white "X"-shaped cross of St. Andrew on a blue background. When it was first combined in 1601 with the red St. George's cross of England, the white border remained because there is a heraldry rule (Rule of tincture) that says you can't mix (abut) two colors. You need a metal, gold or silver, which are respectively represented by yellow and white, to separate them.

When the Red "X" for St. Patrick was added in 1801, it also needed a border to separate it from the blue. If it were centered on the white, it would have made Scotland's symbol look as though it were only a border for Ireland's, naturally the Scots didn't want that.

If you look at the illustration under design specifications, each diagonal is six units wide. The red cross is two units and if you think of the white cross as two units, you have a unit on each side as a border. So, both countries symbols are the same size showing equality between the two.

Flipping the red and white gives each Kingdom "top" billing in half the flag, like co-equal billings in movies where one star's name is on the upper right and the other's is to the left, but a bit lower.

Because Scotland was in the union first, it got the prime spot at the top hoist (left) and Ireland got to be above Scotland on the right. I apologize for the length of this answer, but hope it helps.Goldnpuppy (talk) 17:12, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

OK, this part: When the Red "X" for St. Patrick was added in 1801, it also needed a border to separate it from the blue. If it were centered on the white, it would have made Scotland's symbol look as though it were only a border for Ireland's, naturally the Scots didn't want that. seems like a good enough explanation. I understand the Union flag is made up of three different crosses: an upright one for England, and two diagonal ones for Scotland and Ireland. I just never thought of the heraldrical rules that forbid mixing two colours without a metal in between, perhaps because I know next to nothing about heraldry. Which is a bit silly, when you come to think of it: I'm European, where heraldry was invented, and I like to look at the coats of arms of municipalities both in my home country Finland and other European countries, and am proud of this tradition, but the excessively detailed rules of what you can place where just seem needlessly complex to me. (Not that I would approve of photographs of real-life people being placed on coats of arms, as was suggested by a Finnish tabloid reporter once, but it was instantly turned down.) JIP | Talk 20:37, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

There is a beautiful 'geometric' construction of both the "National Flag" and the "War Flag". First we make a 3:4 rectangle (landscape) we know that the diagonal by Pythagoras is "5" (3:4:5, 9 + 16 = 25) Next we combine four "3:4:5" rectangles to make a "6:8:10" rectangle (landscape) and inscribe a circle, radius "5" centered at the "+" where the four "3:4:5" rectangles meet. Above and below the 3:5 ratio 'War Flag' will be a border of 2 x 10, These will consist of two 1:2 ratio National Flags each side (portrait draped) and two larger National Flags 2:4 ratio. (center) The position of all the vertical, horizontal & diagonal lines become obvious. Pythagorean triangulation was an essential tutorial for all Naval Cadets. Drafting the "War Flag" with ruler, pencil and compass was a nice introduction to the art of navigation and survey. User:JIP's answer is a good one. (I will attempt to upload a JPG illustration of this geometric construction of the "War Flag") — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alastair Carnegie (talkcontribs) 19:43, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Another reason for this is that otherwise, a distress signal would be harder to make, and so anyone who has been taught which way up it should go would be able to tell whether a distress signal is being called. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CaptainOAP (talkcontribs) 22:37, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Flag of Hawaii update needed[edit]

According to one story, the King of Hawaii asked the British mariner, George Vancouver, during a stop in Lahaina, what the piece of cloth flying from his ship was. Vancouver replied that it represented his king's authority.

This "story" needs to be updated to match our article content over at Flag_of_Hawaii#Origins. Viriditas (talk) 07:15, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Scottish Independence[edit]

What happens to the flag if Scotland leaves the Union? Pseud (talk) 11:14, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

This doesn't need to go into the article unless it does happen, which it probably wouldn't until at least 2016. The chances are though, the flag would just lose the blue background. Bigdon128 (talk) 16:29, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Chances are the Union Flag won't change at all. The possibility of Scotland's cession is just that, cession; not the break up of the United Kingdom (which won't be keen on changing the world's most identifiable flag). Alexsau1991 (talk) 19:49, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Newsflash! The UK of GB & NI ceases to exist if the vote is in favour. The repeal of the 1707 Acts of Union would result in the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England & Northern Ireland. Should the Westminster Parliament retain the United aspect of the title that would be entirely up to them; this word should however have been dropped, along with the flag being redesigned, in 1927, but neither was done on the grounds of cost. Either way, the nearest you'd get to it would be the United Kingdom of England & Northern Ireland (Wales already being part of the Kingdom of England is not mentioned specifically in the title nor is represented in the flag in its own right). It could be that again on the grounds of cost the flag would remain unaltered, but on the grounds of accuracy it should be changed.
Each new state would be a successor state in law and be bound to all previous treaties undertaken by the predecessor state; as in the case of the Czech Republic and Republic of Slovakia in respect of the former Federal Republic of Czechoslovakia. (Not that >50% of Scots will vote in favour, more likely 40-45%).
Scotland would not cede from the UK as Quebec might cede from Canada. Scotland and England together established the Kingdom of GB, which unified with the Kingdom of Ireland to create the UK of GB & I; this becoming UK of GB & NI as of 1927. If Scotland goes, then so does GB, and you're left with UK of E & NI or simply the K of E & NI should the United term used since 1801 be dropped; the only Kingdom left in the pack being England, so no other Kingdom left with which to be United. (talk) 15:01, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
It's not likely to happen - HMG under Jim Callaghan commissioned a report in around 1976 to find out the cost involved should Scotland gain independence, and it turned out that Scotland could only afford independence if the rest of Britain subsidised its defence costs. The predicted naval defence costs amounted mainly to defending the offshore oil industry and fishing grounds, and even with the predicted revenues from North Sea Oil it depended on the Royal Navy effectively giving any Scottish Navy free use of RN naval dockyards, and presumably things have become even worse since Thatcher closed down most of the Scottish ones in the 1980s. Then there were the air defence costs, and Scotland couldn't afford to operate the Nimrods, Sea Kings, etc., and more importantly, even if the aircraft and ships were given to Scotland as their share of the MoD 'divi', they would still be reliant on the UK to maintain them for no cost. The same applied to the training and other supporting infrastructure.
So no, Scotland isn't likely to become independent. Not unless the Scottish taxpayer wants to pay the entire costs of their own defence. I seriously doubt that the taxpayers in the remaining parts of the UK would be interested in doing it. And I also seriously doubt how kindly a future UK government might take to a weak point in the defence of the mainland British Isles possibly open to the risk of foreign invasion should future world events take a turn for the worse, and if you don't believe me then just look at Ireland and see exactly why the British have been involved in that island since the time of Edward I and later Oliver Cromwell. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:42, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
It probably won't change at all. Nothing happened when Ireland left. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:33, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
That's because part of Ireland stayed in the UK, so St. Patrick's Saltire still represents something. Ibadibam (talk) 00:36, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
The Union Jack flag would remain the same if Scotland left the UK because the flag was to celebrate the union of the crowns and not the nations. Therefore if Scotland gained independence this would make no difference to the flag. [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Platinumpaintitblack (talkcontribs) 18:16, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
It's correct that the flag originated the emblem of the monarch, symbolizing the personal union of the crowns. It came to stand for the later political union of the kingdoms by association, and only as a matter of tradition, not decree. I can see how the flag could continue to stand for the Queen and the personal union she represents, but not how it could continue on as a de facto national flag for the hypothetical Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland, given that the political union with Scotland would be dissolved. Ibadibam (talk) 21:55, 17 August 2016 (UTC)


Hi, I don't understand this diagram:

United Kingdom Flag Specifications.svg

It is not possible to interpret this without knowing the angle at which the 6 unit "width" of the diagonal stripes is supposed to be measured. The text seems to imply that this measurement should be square to the diagonal lines, but in the diagram it is clearly shown as non-square, but with no angle or other reference indicating exactly how it should be measured. (talk) 20:17, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree. Do they mean centimeters, millimeters, feet, inches? Robby The Penguin (talk) (contribs) 20:19, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
That isn't relevant. Any units can be used; only the proportions matter. The point is that it is not possible to determine the relative width of the diagonal stripes from this diagram since the six units is measured at an indeterminable angle. (talk) 20:24, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
It's indeterminable because of the corner, then? Robby The Penguin (talk) (contribs) 20:26, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
No, it's because the measurement of six units is shown to be not square across the strip (at right angles to the edges of the strip), but at some odd and unspecified angle. (talk) 20:29, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Agree, it should be a right angle. William Avery (talk) 20:56, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
I think that you're reading way too much into an artifact of the limitations of the dimensioning tool that the image creator had available. Just because the dimension leaders and arrows aren't perpendicular to the seven gray lines that define the St Andrew's and the St Patrick's crosses doesn't invalidate the dimension. Similarly, if one were to draw extension lines from the flag to the dimension leaders, you will find that the arrows don't properly line up. Gasp. And of course there is the adjacent text that explicitly states the width of the diagonal portions of the flag.
Trappist the monk (talk) 23:15, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
If that distance is supposed to be measured at right angles to the diagonal lines, then the way it is currently drawn is quite obviously incorrect. If I had to guess how to draw the flag from this diagram, I would measure six units at 45 degrees to the flag edges, which we seem to be saying is wrong. The fact that the diagram and the accompanying text are inconsistent is not an argument for retaining the status quo. (talk) 23:39, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't know that there is any hard and fast rule that requires dimension leaders to be at any specific angle with respect to the object for which they specify a distance. Clearly, the whole image isn't "properly" dimensioned—but so what? This is Wikipedia, I encourage you to improve upon what is here.
It's not the angle that's important per-se, but the width of the lines. This, of course, makes it necessary to measure the lines at a right angle to the diagonals [2]. Ianbrettcooper (talk) 14:33, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
You state that the "diagram and the accompanying text are inconsistent", but you don't state your reasoning. How are they inconsistent?
Trappist the monk (talk) 12:42, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
It is inconsistent because the text says, for example, that the red diagonal is 1⁄15 of the flag's height, yet if drawn as depicted in the diagram it would not be 1⁄15 of the flag's height. (talk) 03:52, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

Hi, I understand the diagram, in fact it is the only thing I do understand. The description in the bullets defeats me, mostly the second bullet- what is the normal and broad white diagonal about, the 1/15 implies 2 units, there is nothing on the diagram's white diagonal with 2 units of white. The paragraph below seems ok. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:13, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Now that you point it out, I think that you're right. The offending paragraph is copied here so others reading this don't have to flip back and forth between the article and the talk page.
The three component crosses that make up the Union Flag are sized as follows:
  • The red St George's Cross width is 15 of the flag's height with a 115 flag height fimbriation
  • The white diagonal St Andrew's Cross width is 115 of the flag's height and the broader white diagonal's width is 110 of the flag's height
  • The red diagonal St Patrick's Cross width is 115 of the flag's height and the narrow white diagonal's width is 130 of the flag's height
I think that the thing that is confusing is that, unlike the description of the St George's Cross, there is no mention of fimbriation. The visible parts of both the St Andrew's and St Patrick's crosses is two units or 115 wide and each has a 130 fimbriation as is shown in this diagram:
United Kingdom Flag Specifications 2.PNG
So, perhaps the second and third bullet points could be rewritten like this:
I suspect that some mention of the counterchange should be included but I'm not quite clear on how to best accomplish that.
Trappist the monk (talk) 00:39, 26 August 2012 (UTC)


Is there a 'Standard' side for pole?[edit]

About the section on flying and when the flag is considered upside-down; there is mention of which *side* the hoist/pole is: "can also be statically displayed incorrectly with the hoist on the right", but it isn't clear which way that flag should be flown if there is no pole at all. Is it somehow 'standard' or preferred that the pole is on the left? Often, as in the images shown, no indication of which side the pole is, in which case I don't see how if can be claimed that the flag is upside-down since it can be counter-claimed that the pole is on the right. Does anyone know about this?

Davidmaxwaterman (talk) 18:57, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

It seems to me that §Flying adequately states which end of the flag is the hoist end. The two adjacent images show both the correct and incorrect way to fly the flag and the captions clearly state, for the purposes of the illustrations, that the hoist is on the left.
What §Flying doesn't say is how the flag is to be displayed when, for example, it is mounted on a flat surface (a wall). The rules for the American flag when displayed on a wall has the canton at the flag's own right (the viewer's left). If there is a similar rule for the Union Flag, that would explain the sentence that you describe. In which case, a little bit of clarification is in order.
Trappist the monk (talk) 19:44, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
It's simple - although we don't usually display the flag on walls. The Hoist goes to the left - the same as it does when the flag is flown the right-way-up. If it's flown the other way round then it's also upside-down. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:48, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Why not Union Jack?[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Hi, I am just wondering why this article isn't called Union Jack as per Wikipedia:COMMONNAME? Thanks --JetBlast (talk) 21:00, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

  • There is a heated debate going on as you might see below. About 20 years ago someone disinterred an old name for the national flag of the United Kingdom: 'Union Flag'. They then started an urban myth that the name 'Union Jack' should only be used when the flag was flown from a jack-staff at sea. This interesting and entirely incorrect fairy-tale took hold amongst pedants who started trotting it out at every opportunity and it has, over the intervening years, gained credibility in many parts of our national life: importantly the BBC who seem to always use Union Flag in their broadcasts to the almost entire exclusion of the name Union Jack. Why this is I have no idea (the BBC aren't commenting: I have written to them without success) but I have a strong suspicion that the 'powers that be' in the government would like the nation to adopt the Union Flag as the name for our nation’s flag as it is non-denominational. In a politically correct nation where we have Muslims, Hindus etc. a flag that (may) have a Christian name ('Jack derived from 'Jacob') is to be buried in favour of the vacuous and empty-meaning 'Union Flag'. However the origins of the name 'Union Jack' are lost in time and there are several possible sources, and so the idea that it should be cast into oblivion is based on flawed knowledge and an urban myth about the jack-staff. The Flag Institute website pages say "It is often stated that the Union Flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea." Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 08:40, 27 August 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Platinumpaintitblack (talkcontribs) 07:07, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
The view that "Union Flag" is 'technically' correct and that "Union Jack" should be used only in a nautical context, is a lot older than 20 years ago. It is more like 40 years ago, at least.Eregli bob (talk) 10:49, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

I am the same person who started the heated debate. :) --JetBlast (talk) 14:24, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: moved. The comments in support are significantly stronger, in terms of Wikipedia policy, than those in oppose. Comments about merging were ignored as outside the scope of RM, but there's no prejudice against starting merge discussion. Jenks24 (talk) 10:18, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Union FlagUnion Jack – As per WP:COMMONNAME - The Union flag is commonly known as the Union Jack [1] [2]. [3] [4] [5] [6] This is indicated in the opening sentence of the article and the 2 sources i provided above. JetBlast (talk) 18:58, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

  • Strong oppose - Union Flag is also a commonname and it is the more accurate name. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:03, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
  • This also applied to all the examples on WP:COMMONNAME, but these are named by the common name. I am British and i have never heard the average people on the street call it the Union Flag. --JetBlast (talk) 19:06, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
The UKINUSA source you link does say its commonly known as Union Jack, but it is described as the Union Flag on several occasions in that article demonstrating it is "commonly used" too. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:11, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong support per WP:COMMONNAME. The flag is commonly referred to as the Union Jack. 2 lines of K303 19:35, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support, per WP:COMMONNAME. Perhaps "Union Flag" would be preferred by specialists, but it is not understood at all by Americans or Canadians (I don't know about Australians, etc). Indeed, to Americans, "Union Flag" would refer to a flag flown by Union forces during a battle in the American Civil War. The term "Union Jack" is unambiguous, it refers only to the flag, and is the overwhelmingly familiar term for very populous English-speaking communities outside of Britain. And the original proposer above (JetBlast) even comments above that it is far more used in Britain itself. — P.T. Aufrette (talk) 00:12, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
...not understood at all by Americans or Canadians... and to Americans, "Union Flag" would refer to a flag flown by Union forces during a battle in the American Civil War. Utter and complete hogwash. Perhaps you are confusing the Confederate flag with the Flag of the United States which was the flag of the Union.
Trappist the monk (talk) 17:39, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
Obviously the "Union flag" (usually with a lowercase f) was the flag of the pro-Union (anti-Confederate) forces. See this Google ngrams graph, specifically for American English, which shows a pronounced spike during the Civil War years from 1861 to 1865. — P.T. Aufrette (talk) 23:36, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support, per WP:COMMONNAME. ----Snowded TALK 00:26, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose per BW, until we've some sources that prove the incorrect "Jack" is more common. Jon C. 08:07, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • What is wrong with the source i posted above? "The flag of the United Kingdom, commonly known as the Union Jack" This is from a British Government website --JetBlast (talk) 08:09, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • We want sources saying it's more commonly known as the Union Jack. I know it's commonly known as the Jack, but not convinced the usage is any more common that Union Flag. I'm at work at the moment, but a Google Books search would be a good place to start. Jon C. 08:19, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose – current title hits the correct balance between being common and not wrong. DBD 08:11, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
    Please cite evidence that "Union Jack" is "wrong". — P.T. Aufrette (talk) 23:48, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per the sources provided, the term 'jack' is more common. The issue of it being 'wrong' can be explained in the text. Hot Stop 14:46, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support From the text of the article, "The term 'Union Flag' is less well-known outside the United Kingdom,[11] and may refer to other union flags." It would seem that the current and proposed names are about equally valid for British readers, but the proposed one will be the most concise to the most readers. Make the move. --BDD (talk) 16:27, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
The text from the article that you quote is not supported by the adjacent citation ("Australian National Flag" (pdf). ). Nowhere in that reference is it stated that The term 'Union Flag' is less well-known outside the United Kingdom.... I suspect that that sentence should be struck from the article.
Trappist the monk (talk) 17:39, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Many people who don't know what they're talking about do refer to it as the Union Jack. However, those of us who do (and there are a lot of us) call it by its correct name. Yes, more people probably use Union Jack, but a very large minority do say Union Flag. Given that's the case, I think it's better to keep it under its correct name. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:50, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • You can create a redirect from union flag to union jack, that way people can find it. --JetBlast (talk) 16:53, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • People can already find Union Flag via a redirect from Union Jack! -- Necrothesp (talk) 17:00, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • As one of those people who don't know what they are talking about, I'm not going to cast a vote. But I do think technically correct terms should be used when there are two close terminologies and we can elevate knowledge by titling it the technically correct terms. I found Necrothesp's point convincing. SLawsonIII (talk) 21:27, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
  • No evidence has been cited that "Union Jack" is incorrect. — P.T. Aufrette (talk) 23:48, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Rename per WP:COMMONNAME. There's debate over whether "calling it the Union Jack on land is wrong" is accurate so we shouldn't be preserving a less familiar article title on such a contested basis. Timrollpickering (talk) 17:25, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:COMMONNAME. It's not scientific but this [7] suggests that Union Jack is the more common word. I think it can only understate the popularity as 'Union Flag' has other uses such as American Civil War, while I don't think 'Union Jack' has other uses.--Flexdream (talk) 16:53, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose—If it ain't broke, don't fix it. In all of the proposer's cited examples, the term Union Flag seems to be used just as much as the term Union Jack; thus far, (with the possible exception of Editor Flexdream's contribution to this topic), nothing suggests that Union Jack is far and away the most common. In the Wikipedia search box, Union Flag as a suggested topic appears before Union Jack.—Trappist the monk (talk) 17:39, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
    See the Google ngrams links directly below. — P.T. Aufrette (talk) 23:53, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
    I guess you didn't read my entire post so you must have missed the bit where I acknowledged "Editor Flexdream's contribution to this topic." Regardless, both names are concidered correct so I stand by my position that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This dispute of which is more correct will ultimately get us nowhere.
Trappist the monk (talk) 13:22, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. The predominance of "Union Jack" over "Union Flag" is overwhelming. Look at this ngram (similar to Flexdream's, but with lowercase versions added) to see just how much more often "Union Jack" is used - and that's without taking into account other uses for "Union Flag". Dohn joe (talk) 20:27, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
    Yes, this is pretty convincing. The predominance is still present when the ngrams graph is narrowed to either American English or British EnglishP.T. Aufrette (talk) 23:36, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. Both "Union Flag" and "Union Jack" are common names (note that policy merely points to using common names, not most common names). Between common names we prefer "Union Flag" because "Union Jack" is plainly inaccurate.--Jiang (talk) 03:56, 20 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. "Union Jack" is the name that is used far more commonly as per evidence above. I also don't understand Jiang's comment above - are you claiming that "Union Jack" actually refers to a different flag? That's the only way the name could be "inaccurate." Given that both terms are as accurate, use the well-known one. (As a side note, another acceptable option would be to merge this article with Flag of the United Kingdom of course.) SnowFire (talk) 04:31, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
    Just as a little comment on that, I think that one thing that is making this debate messy (er, so wholly unlike so many other move debates, then!) is that we are in effect discussing too many things at once. It's clear that some editors don't agree with the current article itself where it says that both names are correct, whereas others agree that both are correct and just want to debate which "correct" name to use. If you are of the school of thought which says that Union Jack is simply wrong and Union Flag is the only correct name then clearly you're never going to want the move, because you are not comparing two otherwise equal things. I'm not saying I know the answer to this! If I did I would retire and write books about it and become very wealthy. It's just that I feel it's making it even harder than usual when some people are going "as any fule kno" for one heartfelt, sincerely held reason and others likewise but for the opposite reason. I think I will shut up and get a coffee now but it has been jolly nice talking to you. Best wishes DBaK (talk) 07:39, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Holy moley! SnowFire made me go off and read Flag of the United Kingdom, thanks for that. Erm. Are we sure that the purposes of these two articles are clear, and separate? I hope you are, and can explain it to me (think: elderly, confused. no polysyllabic words and you will do fine) because I aren't. It does add an interesting layer to the debate. And now I need hazelnut stuff in my coffee too - do you see what you are doing to me? Best wishes to all DBaK (talk) 07:46, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose or merge article into Flag of the United Kingdom --Barryob (Contribs) (Talk) 13:41, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:COMMONNAME. (talk) 20:11, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment—I wonder if what we need is something that might look like this:
{{#ifeq: {{Rand|2|{{#time:U}}}} | 0 | {{DISPLAYTITLE:Union Flag}} | {{DISPLAYTITLE:Union Jack}} }}
which, if it worked (it doesn't), would randomly display either Union Flag or Union Jack as the article title. {{rand}} generates a pseudo-random number 0 or 1; the #ifeq compares the random number to 0; if the random number is zero, then the displayed title would be Union Flag; if not, the displayed title would be Union Jack.
Trappist the monk (talk) 14:30, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong support per WP:COMMONNAME. Nobody calls it the Union flag, which could also refer to the flag of the US.--` (talk) 06:36, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
    • "Nobody calls it the Union flag"? What utter drivel! -- Necrothesp (talk) 10:42, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
      • To be fair i have heard people call it that, i assume it comes from Grand Union Flag. --JetBlast (talk) 15:18, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
        • I was responding to the poster's claim that nobody calls the British flag the Union Flag, which is complete tripe! -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:21, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong Support per WP:COMMONNAME; the new title would be more precise as well as less ambiguous. Outside of the UK, the term "Union Flag" is far more ambiguous, and could refer to a number of things. The aforementioned American Civil War is one example; another, related one, is the above note about the Grand Union Flag. (Note: The blue field of stars on the modern US flag is in context known as the "union"; another potential source of confusion.) My point is, while some people might recognize the term "Union Flag", everyone will recognize the term "Union Jack".
    (Actually, the only possible confusion I can think of is with the term Naval Jack, but I can't see the average reader mixing the two up.) Cheers, Zaldax (talk) 18:23, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose Clearly both names are in common use. I think a good reason for preferring Union Flag as the title of the article is that this is the term suited to the more formal language of a written encyclopedia, rather than Union Jack which is probably rather more common in less formal spoken language ("the vernacular"). I'm not saying that one is right and the other wrong, or that one is better than the other, simply that UF is more appropriate in writing. Thus it is the Union Flag, but is often called the Union Jack.
    Whichever title we end up with, our article should reflect this distinction by using UF in the body and saying something like "also commonly referred to as the Union Jack" early on. This is what the British Embassy in Washington[8] and the British Monarchy[9] do. In fact both those references refer to Union Jack in the title, but our redirects mean that we already have both the article title fitting more formal written usage and the immediate accessibility of the vernacular as a redirect. The embassy's title has "the Union Jack flag" which is not a common usage at all and illustrates the compromise made for searchability.
    The Chicago Tribune (or perhaps Reuters) seem also to make the written/vernacular distinction when captioning a recent picture.[10] --Mirokado (talk) 14:18, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Do you have any sources that says union flag is common or more common than Union Jack? --JetBlast (talk) 15:15, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Hi. Short answer is "no, but": the refs above refer to the flag as the Union Flag and find it necessary to explain that it is also "commonly known as" the Union Jack, so that rather supports my "clearly" in the first sentence. I'll also point out that "commonly" is used in a rather different sense, related to "often", from a statistical assertion that something is or is not "common" or "more common than". --Mirokado (talk) 16:15, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I cant really see how you have a case if you have no sources to say that it is commonly known as the union flag. They all say its commonly named the Union Jack. As a Brit i have never ever head anyone call it the union flag, always the Jack. --JetBlast (talk) 17:55, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong SupportThe Union Jack has been the common name for around 300 years, and is overwhelmingly used by the populace of the UK and is the name other nationalities know it by. "Union Jack" is correct as the Flag Institute web site shows, in that The Admiralty uses (and has done for hundreds of years) the name Union Jack in all and any situations, and the term is totally legal as sanctioned by the UK government over 100 years ago. Therefore "Union Jack" is 100% legal and correct and is the most common name. "Union Flag" is a correct term also but is not in common use. There is an apocryphal tale in circulation that "Union Jack" is a name that should only be used when the flag is flown from a jack-staff at sea, but The Flag Institute website confirms that this is a 'relatively recent' idea. This urban myth has however taken hold in many quarters including the BBC and many government institutions. These official bodies may prefer the alternative name because it is non-denominational. In other words it is a non-Christian name. The very name 'Jack' as in jack-staff comes from Jacob (as in 'Jacobs ladder') and the jack-staff is named thus as it points to Heaven. Therefore even if it were true that the 'Jack' part comes from jack-staff (which is not certain anyway as there are several explanations possible) then those who prefer a secular name might be propagating the urban myth and supporting the Union Flag version as they wish to eradicate the Union Jack name entirely from our vocabulary. If it is only called Union Jack when flown at sea from the jack staff of a ship then that is not very often at all! The conspiracy to dump the name Union Jack and the continued pushing of the modern myth that supports this should be resisted by all those who really wish to preserve our culture and keep our traditions. The name "Union Jack" is perfectly legal, accurate and is the commonly used name. Therefore Wiki should update this and rename and reposition the article!Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 19:20, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
    • Once again we have a claim that the term Union Flag "is not in common use". I have no idea where these claims come from. It is in very common use. -- Necrothesp (talk) 10:34, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
      • Do you have a source to support that? --JetBlast (talk) 12:06, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Every single one of the "sources" that you cited in your opening post use Union Flag, often more than once.
This topic is rather pointless. One term is as good as another. (no it isn't; yes it is; no it isn't! ...) I move to close discussion without action.
Trappist the monk (talk) 13:30, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
But that doesn't indicate it is a common name, it indicates its an official name. So they do not support your claims. Other Google sources from other users show that union jack is used allot more than union flag. Due to the topic being so split and still on going this discussion should be allowed to run its course. --JetBlast (talk) 14:59, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
The sources that you posted certainly made common use of Union Flag just as they did of Union Jack. That seems to support my point that one term is as good as another; it seems to support Editor Necrothesp's claim that Union Flag is in "very common Use." That commonality is why this proposition is pointless. I do not withdraw my motion.
Trappist the monk (talk) 00:10, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Oppose Union Flag is the correct term, Union Jack is only technically correct when the Union Flag is flown as a jack in a ship. Whilst the term Union Jack is frequently used it's simple to redirect the incorrect terminology to the correct terminology, rather than the other way round. I'd note that the heraldic authority has noted that whilst Union Flag is the correct terminology the phrase Union Jack does have a significant amount of common use and whilst incorrect is nonetheless familiar. Random Acts of Language (talk) 22:49, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

As you say Union Jack has common use, so why not change the name under the policy WP:COMMONNAME? We are not debating what the correct term is, just that should it be called Union Jack as that is a common name. --JetBlast (talk) 22:51, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Because I prefer accuracy.
Random Acts of Language (talk) 22:54, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
I would also observe that the UK Monarchy source at reference 1 also refers to the Union Flag extensively with a short paragraph at the end of the article highlighting that there are a couple of potential reasons for the term Jack. I'd also note that a fairly quick google search highlights that the majority of official sites, and the BBC, use the term Flag whilst some news media use the term Jack.
It may be that there is a case for a disambiguation page, should there be articles for other Union Flags.
Random Acts of Language (talk) 07:45, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Why do you ignore the Flag Institute confirmation as I have referred to it several times now? Inconvenient truth for you perhaps?Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 08:43, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm not ignoring it, I'm aware that it's the view of Bruce Nicol, and that others in the field disagree with him.
His comments certainly have very wide distribution, his view is about the only one that's really wheeled out to support the "Union Jack" argument.
Random Acts of Language (talk) 17:32, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • You very selectively quote from the UK Monarchy page. The opening sentence is "The Union Flag, or Union Jack, is the national flag of the United Kingdom." I would have thought this kills off the 'only flown at sea from jack-staff' apocryphal tale. The site goes on to say, "The term 'Union Jack' possibly dates from Queen Anne's time (r. 1702-14), but its origin is uncertain. It may come from the 'jack-et' of the English or Scottish soldiers, or from the name of James I who originated the first union in 1603. Another alternative is that the name may be derived from a proclamation by Charles II that the Union Flag should be flown only by ships of the Royal Navy as a jack, a small flag at the bowsprit; the term 'jack' once meant small." And dare you continue to propogate this garbage about the name being Union Jack as only when the flag is flown from a jack-staff at sea as you do in this debate where you say "Union Jack is only technically correct when the Union Flag is flown as a jack in a ship" - quite clearly wrong.Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 23:47, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Are you aware that it is also the view of the Admiralty, the House of Lords and the United Kingdom Parliament? You are ignoring them too as they have all sanctioned the use of Union Jack as the name of our flag. As well as the fact you are indeed ignoring Cdr Bruce Nicolls OBE RN (Rtd) who is important enough to have a whole page on the Flag Institute website. Please provide any official proof that the story about the 'jack-staff' is correct. I have provided proof and you simply ignore it. Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 23:17, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • If you prefer accuracy please read and digest the Flag Institute website page which says "It is often stated that the Union Flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea." Note: "relatively recent idea"! It states: "From early in its life the Admiralty itself frequently referred to the flag as the Union Jack, whatever its use, and in 1902 an Admiralty Circular announced that Their Lordships had decided that either name could be used officially. Such use was given Parliamentary approval in 1908 when it was stated that "the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag"." Therefore the name "Union Jack" is not slang, vernacular or simply the common name used by all: it the official, legal and sanctioned name. As well as being the common name used by all.Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 08:43, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Might I suggest that you review behaviour policy and remind you that one should focus on the substance of the argument, not the individual presenting a position.
Random Acts of Language (talk) 07:14, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
  • I have removed any contentious issues. Sorry if I sound frustrated but I really feel that the urban myth of the jack-staff must be addressed as it threatens to change the name of the national flag - with no basis of truth behind the reasoning. May I suggest you supply concrete evidence to support your own initial claim (above) that that the name 'Union Jack is only technically correct when the Union Flag is flown as a jack in a ship.' I have show as evidence that this is a 'relatively recent idea' from the pages of the Flag Institute, "..the national vexillological organization of the United Kingdom". You dismiss that out of hand. I have used the very site the you quoted, The British Monarchy site, to show that the origins of the name Union Jack are not known: there are a number of possible reasons. They also call the flag the Union Jack in the illustration of the flag. You have also not commented on the Parliamentary approval given to the name Union Jack.
  • Strong oppose - Union Flag is the correct term, as has been explained numerous times above. There is a redirect from Union Jack to Union Flag, so the fact that the so-called "common name" is Union Jack doesn't matter. If Wikipedia wishes to be known as an encyclopedia, then it should ensure that all pages are referred to by their correct name and not messed around with just to save a handful of moments redirecting from one page to another.DAAdshead (talk) 14:58, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Union Jack IS the correct term too! Read The Flag Institute website page which says "It is often stated that the Union Flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea." Note: "relatively recent idea"! It states: "From early in its life the Admiralty itself frequently referred to the flag as the Union Jack, whatever its use, and in 1902 an Admiralty Circular announced that Their Lordships had decided that either name could be used officially. Such use was given Parliamentary approval in 1908 when it was stated that "the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag"." So pedants who keep trotting out the urban myth of the jack-staff are entirely incorrect. Union Jack was and is used by the Admiralty in all circumstances, parliament has sanctioned the name as the official name of the nation over 100 years ago, and the Flag Institute confirms that the apocryphal tale going round that the name Union Jack should only be used when flown at sea from a jack staff is a 'relatively recent idea'. What more evidence do you need? To turn a blind eye to these facts is bizarre indeed. Add to that the fact that (whatever is said on this page) the vast majority of people here and abroad call it Union Jack and I would have thought that pedants would get behind the Union Jack name rather than another name disinterred about 20 years ago and now much in vogue with the BBC who have done much to propagate the urban myth of the jack-staff. Their propaganda has been one of the main drivers to the alternative name 'Union Flag' taking hold. If you go back 20 years and more you will never hear the name used by any politician, broadcaster or school teacher. Now these various quasi-official groups have been taken in (or wish to be taken in as it is politically correctly expedient), the name "Union Flag" is gathering some ground and thus is being used - but only because of flawed history about the origins of the name Union Jack! An enthusiastic body of misguided pedants busy pushing this modern myth threaten to bury the entirely correct and commonly used name: "Union Jack" if we let them.
  • Support Union jack is the common name and helps distinguish this topic from the flags of other unions, per WP:PRECISION. Warden (talk) 08:22, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • The bizarre aspect of Wikipedia is that some shady authority has ensured 'Union Flag' appears everywhere on Wiki even where the original source states Union Jack. Here is my proof: Check the Australian government's official description of their flag: "The Union Jack in the upper hoist quadrant or first quarter.. denoting Australia's historical links with Great Britain. The Union Jack itself is composed of red and white intersecting and overlayed vertical and diagonal crosses on a blue background..." And yet Wiki when describing the Australian flag uses the 'Union Flag' which is wrong - according to the description that the Australians use themselves. Let's look at New Zealand. Their official government website states: "The New Zealand Flag has a royal blue background with a Union Jack in the first quarter, and four five-pointed red stars with white borders on the fly." And yet again Wiki 'translates' this description to state that: "The flag of New Zealand is a defaced Blue Ensign with the Union Flag in the canton, and four red stars with white borders to the right." The Union Jack name is universally used by every other nation in the world when describing the flag of the United Kingdom and any other flag that feautures the Union Jack. Why do some people in the UK persist with this madness that Union Flag is more common and more correct? It is perverse in the extreme. And yet the effort to usurp the Union Jack is extremely well orchestrated and organised with a forcefulness that suggests obsession on the part off the Union Flag enthusiasts - to the extent that Wiki uses Union Flag incorrectly. No one has explained in this debate why the change from Union Jack to Union Flag should be made. Stating that 'Union Jack' is incorrect is a falsehood as I have shown with the Flag Institute reference. Denying that it is not in common usage is peverse indeed. What is the motivation behind this well-planned and synchronised campaign to bury the name Union Jack? Someone please explain. Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 18:01, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Pedantry and axe-grinding is common on Wikipedia. See WP:LAME for other notorious cases. Warden (talk) 09:42, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Very true. I also looked up the USA Grand Union Flag. The USA describes on its official website, the 1776 version of the Grand Union Flag as “…13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).” Here again on the Wiki page the description of the 1776 flag is “This flag consisted of 13 red and white stripes with the British Union Flag of the time (prior to the inclusion of St. Patrick's cross of Ireland) in the canton.” The pedants are winning - despite the fact they are wrong. Twice on the BBC I have heard debates where an official from the Flag Institute has confirmed that Union Jack and Union Flag are interchangeble - and yet the BBC persist with Union Flag as the default name. My fear is that ‘someone’ in officialdom has decided that the name Union Jack is politically incorrect. Maybe because it has possible Christian connotations? In a multi-cultural society maybe the motivation is political correctness, as we cannot all pull together under a Christian flag? The non-denominational version of Union Flag is much safer. And so to perpetuate the ‘jack-staff’ story with such organised and concerted effort has the result that the politically incorrect name is driven out of usage over time. Once the name Union Flag is firmly established the proponents of that name can ignore argument about the exactitude of the ‘jack-staff’ story and simply claim that it is correct through common usage – regardless of the fact that the alternative name had become popular by the propaganda of an apocryphal explanation in the first place.Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 10:03, 28 August 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Platinumpaintitblack (talkcontribs) 10:00, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

I'm in danger of agreeing with both sides. The establishment of the flag and jack was 1 January 1801 and both are in the Royal Proclamations of that date referring to the Union Flag (Proclamation Declaring His Majesty's Pleasure concerning the Royal Style and Titles appertaining to the Imperial Crowvn of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and its Dependencies, and also the Enfigns, Armorial Flags, abd Banners thereof) and later to merchant ships' flags, ensigns and jacks (Proclamation Declaring what Ensign or Colours shall be borne at Sea, in Merchant Ships or Vessels, belonging to any of His Majesty's Subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Dominions thereunto belonging) referring to the Union Jack.

In 1822, for example, you find another Proclamation on the propriety of using the flag, known there as "the Union Jack", though this is naval usage and may refer specifically to the flag authorised for us on a jackstaff.

The ensuing century popularised the name "Union Jack" for the flag in general. What is correct or incorrect or official or otherwise is open to calm discussion, but let us put all material on the table. Hogweard (talk) 11:39, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

  • Both names are correct. One side however claims (Flaggers) that the other side (Jacks) are wrong and produce an apocryphal tale to support this flawed theory which is then accepted by many including influential institutions such as the BBC - and the constant propaganda (for example during the Olympics) of repeated 'Flags' persuades ever more folk to start using the disinterred name. This is what has happened. And now lots of people have been taken in, the 'Flaggers' say "Well, it doesn't matter where the name comes from - it's common usage". But that common usage was encouraged with a false premise. Never mind, think the 'Flaggers' - job done. Once the teachers are telling the kids that it's Flag then Jack is doomed.Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 15:42, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Imagine for example someone started telling everyone that the name 'Britain' should only be used if you are descended from the tribe of the Britons - and that any one else should call it 'Albion'. This ancient name - entirely correct and proper - stuck with pedants who happily, whenever anyone used the name 'Britain', doggedly said "It's only called that if you're descended from the tribe of the Britons! Everyone else should call it 'Albion'" The tale of why it should only be called Britain by certain people had a resonance of authenticity. Then imagine the BBC started calling the island 'Albion'. Official documents started calling it Albion and teachers starting teaching kids the name is Albion. Then, Wikipedia didn't have a page on 'Britain' - if you clicked on that there was a re-direct to 'Albion'. And every single reference throughout the entire Wiki pages was stated as 'Albion'. Sooner or later the name Albion would usurp Britain, and eventually the disinterred name, not incorrect in itself, would become the default name. This, my friends, is what is befalling the Union Jack. And it is a sad day. And I still don't know why people have decided to push the Union Flag name. But from now on I'm going to start my own apocryphal tale - the true name of this island - Albion!Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 15:42, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
There is a great deal in what you say about recent myth-making. In origin however, from the original sources, there seems no doubt that the flag on land was first called the "Union Flag" (in 1801, as its predecessor was in 1634), and that references at the time to a "jack" refer to a flag flown on the jackstaff. The first proclamation in of 1 January 1801 does not mention use at sea and has only the "Union Flag". The second proclamation concerned usage by merchant ships and refers to "ensigns" (flown at the stern), "pennants" (flown at the masthead) and to "jacks" (flown at the bow), and it is not just the Union Jack but also the "red jack" to be flown by vessels with a Letter of marque. All early references to a "Union Jack" are in descriptions of naval flags.
  • Once again, the assertion that the origins are from a jackstaff are not proven at all. It is one of several explanations. From the UK Monarchy website pages "The term 'Union Jack' possibly dates from Queen Anne's time (r. 1702-14), but its origin is uncertain (my italics). It may come from the 'jack-et' of the English or Scottish soldiers, or from the name of James I who originated the first union in 1603. Another alternative is that the name may be derived from a proclamation by Charles II that the Union Flag should be flown only by ships of the Royal Navy as a jack, a small flag at the bowsprit; the term 'jack' once meant small."Platinumpaintitblack (talk) 08:41, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
That said, usage moved on and it is indeed only in recent years that anyone has made a fuss about it and tried to persuade the world that it ever was so, when clearly it wasn't. Maybe they are right to change things back to the way they once were, but that is not for me to say. Hogweard (talk) 22:24, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
  • I can predate your 1801 date quite easily. 1606. "Following its introduction by King James, the flag was variously known as the King’s Jack, the Jack Flag or simply the Jack, and by 1674 was being called His Majesty’s Jack." No mention of Union Flag here then. Scroll forward - 1939. "In considering proposals for the reform of flags, the First Sea Lord stated that that 9,999 of 10,000 Britishers called it the Union Jack." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Platinumpaintitblack (talkcontribs) 00:32, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose by the way. Hogweard (talk) 22:25, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Bizarre that this discussion was considered consensus for one side or another. Jon C. 10:33, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

I just hope that now the page has been moved there will not be attempts to turn Union Flag into a disam page. The "Union Jack" is clearly the most notable/known "union flag". BritishWatcher (talk) 10:39, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Just want to say thanks to all who took time to comment here. Thanks --JetBlast (talk) 10:48, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

How the hell did this result in a Move decision??? At best it should have been No Consensus. Bazonka (talk) 07:59, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
Correct. Not sure how it passed. Jon C. 09:19, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
No point complaining here, where the horse has bolted. WP:ANI needs to be informed. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 07:39, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Done. I've started a thread at WP:ANI. – Marco79 04:25, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Bloody stupid move. Union Jack is a term used for the flag in specific circumstances, not the general name. I thought we were an encyclopaedia which tried to get things right? Looking over the thread above there seems to be absolutely no consensus for the move at all. - SchroCat (talk) 04:52, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Its a common name of the flag though. The common name isn't always the most accurate. By the majority of the population its known as the Union Jack. I quote from the admin who closed this. "it's not a vote and therefore it is strength of argument that is more important than the raw numbers. As I said in my close, those supporting (in general) gave much stronger, policy-based arguments. They showed that Union Jack is the most common term for the subject and, while many of those opposing asserted that Union Jack was incorrect, none of them provided any evidence to back up that claim." --JetBlast (talk) 08:09, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
"By the majority of the population its known as the Union Jack". Do you have any evidence to support that, or are you just pushing your POV? - SchroCat (talk) 08:27, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Plenty above. --JetBlast (talk) 08:39, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
No, there isn't, which is why I asked. Some of the references say "commonly known as", but I've not found anything that supports "By the majority of the population its known as the Union Jack": there is a subtle but quite large difference between the two. - SchroCat (talk) 08:46, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

If you say "Union Jack" to an American, we're thinking Brit -- if you say "Union Flag", we're thinking the North in the Civil War [11] or a symbol of a labor organization [12] NE Ent 00:23, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

There is more to the world than just a sub-set of America. Nick Cooper (talk) 10:40, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Americans are probably 10-to-1 more likely to use "Union Jack" than "Union Flag," for what it's worth. Unless it is decisively the other direction in the UK and the Commonwealth, that's the commoner commonname, methinks... Carrite (talk) 18:18, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Truly bizarre that such a hotly contested move was carried out on the basis of an split as close as 11-14, especially sicne it was clearly still being actively debated at the time the discussion was arbitrarily closed. Nick Cooper (talk) 10:40, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Nick, it isnt based on a 11-14 vote. It is strength of argument that is more important, not numbers. Those people for the move presented a better argument. Most of those who where against simply said there reason was is because its wrong, saying its wrong is an opinion, personally i thinking calling it the union flag is incorrect. --JetBlast (talk) 10:55, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

It's typical of Wikipedia that the non-correct usage predominates purely because of the tyranny of the (small) majority. The symbol of British nationhood is NOT a naval jack! It is a flag! The ONLY reason the naval usage predominates in common usage is that the jack was seen more commonly than the flag in foreign countries, due to the fact that Britain 'ruled the waves'. That does not mean that such usage is correct on a page that clearly refers to the land-based flag and the overall symbol, which is a FLAG, not a naval jack. I mean, is it really so hard to get this stuff right? This sort of nonsense is why Wikipedia is generally regarded as a joke. Ianbrettcooper (talk) 21:56, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

If you'd taken the time to read the article, or indeed the discussion, you'd realise that your suggestion that "Union Jack" is somehow inaccurate is wrong. Indeed, it's little more than an urban myth and, being an encyclopaedia, Wikipedia quite rightly ignores such things even if they become relatively popular. --Breadandcheese (talk) 05:42, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
Not an urban myth as you will find with a few minutes study of any decent English-language dictionary by looking up the words "jack" and "jackstaff".MBRZ48 (talk) 23:12, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Clarification request[edit]

How will the article (recently moved) be presented on other articles? 1) Will it be pipe-linked as Union Flag? 2) Left as a re-direct to Union Flag? or 3) Directly linked as Union Jack? GoodDay (talk) 03:23, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

If it is linked to Union Flag it will redirect to Union Jack. If its linked to Union Jack it will go direct to Union Jack. --JetBlast (talk) 16:58, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
Let me rephrase the question. How should we present the article in other articles? GoodDay (talk) 06:31, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
If being factual (which I understand to be a Wikipaedia requirement irrespective of the existence of incorrect common knowledge) then it is the "Union Flag". The Union Flag becomes a "jack" only when flown from a jackstaff. It is irrelevant that foreigners don't recognise the correct term; Wikipaedia exists to educate not misinform. --MBRZ48 (talk)
Its not all about being factual "correct". Read the above it will explain why the article is called Union Jack. By the way I am not a foreigner, i am British the vast majority of the time i hear it being referred to as the Union Jack not the Union Flag. --JetBlast (talk) 23:13, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Merge Flag of the United Kingdom into Union Jack[edit]

What are peoples thoughts please? I can't see why they are separate. Thanks --JetBlast (talk) 10:50, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

I would support a merger provided the article properly reflects the fact the flag started in 1606, before it became the flag of the newly formed Kingdom in 1707 and the modified/latest version in 1801. BritishWatcher (talk) 11:11, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Oppose As this is both a national flag and a design used in many others there's an awful lot of information that's best kept separate. Plus the Union Jack is not the sole flag of the UK - the ensigns are also UK flags and are no more the Union Jack than the numerous other flags with the design in the canton. Timrollpickering (talk) 13:11, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

The problem with a merger is that the flag retains official status in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The question should instead be how much of the content in this article should be siphoned away to the other article? --Jiang (talk) 14:14, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Flag flying on Merchant Navy Day in Scotland[edit]

The article says that the Union Flag is flown on this day (3rd September). However, the Scottish Government webpage says that it is the Red Ensign which is flown on this day. I therefore propose to remove this reference. Alekksandr (talk) 22:43, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Agreed. Seems straightforward enough. --Breadandcheese (talk) 05:38, 13 January 2013 (UTC)
Belatedly done.Alekksandr (talk) 22:37, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

union Jack[edit]

i believe that the union flag is only referred to properly as "Union Jack" when is is flown from the 'Jack Staff'of a British warship. mike brown — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:35, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Presumably you didn't read Union Jack#Terminology (or various sections higher up this talk page)? - David Biddulph (talk) 09:41, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
That just proves that too many people get it wrong.MBRZ48 (talk) 22:59, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Or didn't believe them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:49, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

The idea that it should be called "Union Jack" only when flown on a ship is just some kind of invention of pedants that for some reason gained traction with people who should know better, such as the BBC. The great majority of people in the UK call it "Union Jack" wherever it flies, and this usage is perfectly correct. (talk) 04:55, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
No, it isn't an "invention of pedants." Where do you think the "jack" in "Union Jack" comes from? "Jacks" are naval flags flown from jackstaffs. Many/most navies have jacks. The term "Union Jack" is thus naval in origin since that's what a jack is - a naval flag. Yes, many people misuse the term to refer to the Union Flag. But that doesn't make the usage "perfectly correct." This article should thus be called "Union Flag" and redirect from "Union Jack." No matter how often we are urged to read the (mis)information in Union Jack#Terminology, proper usage is proper usage. Isoruku (talk) 10:20, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Nonsense. Whatever the historical origins, the correct name now, as established by common usage, is "Union Jack". "Union Flag" is a hypercorrection. (talk) 03:44, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
That's completely ludicrous, just because a lot of people use terminology incorrectly, that does not make it correct. You all should be embarrassed of yourselves. Mspence835 (talk) 11:40, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
Mspence835, give the brief essay Wikipedia is wrong a read and get back to us. Ibadibam (talk) 20:48, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
Please keep this civil and assume good faith. There are arguments on both sides: consider that even the Admiralty said one thing in 1902 and the other in 1913. My experience is that a majority call it the "Union Jack", but all understand that "Union Flag" is a more formal name. We all use nicknames; for instance referring to the "Red Duster" and "White Duster" for the Red- and White- Ensigns. May I suggest that the most appropriate term is "Union Flag (commonly called the Union Jack)"? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 21:50, 29 September 2014 (UTC)


'Fimbriate' misspelled as 'fimbrate.' Amended. Stephen A (talk) 02:39, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

British embassy flag[edit]

Flag of British Embassies (Rome) - photograph.jpg

Is there a special name for the Union Jack flown at British Embassies abroad? It has the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom in a white circle in the centre. It doesn't seem to be mentioned in the article. Alansplodge (talk) 15:28, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

It doesn't seem to have a special name, but it's detailed at List of British flags#Diplomatic flags. Perhaps a section under Use in other flags dealing with the diplomatic flags as well as the similar governor's flags would be worthwhile? Andrew Gray (talk) 16:41, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Normal proportions[edit]

According to this document from the Flags and Heraldry Committee (page 16, “Appendix C: United Kingdom Flag Specifications”), the flag’s normal proportions are 3:5 and not 1:2, and it’s the ensign’s 1:2 that is the exception (and even for ensigns it’s only “customarily” and not always 1:2). Why is the article insisting that 1:2 are the normal proportions? —Al12si (talk) 19:34, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree. I think the current version at Flag of the United Kingdom.svg should be moved to Flag of the United Kingdom (1-2).svg and Flag of the United Kingdom.svg should be redirected to Flag of the United Kingdom (3-5).svg. Rob (talk) 17:54, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Flag of Great Britain[edit]

What are the proportions of the flag of Great Britain? At Flag of Great Britain, it says, 1:2 whereas here its says 3:5. Currently the uploaded version is 3:5. I'm wondering if this should be changed. Regards, Rob (talk) 16:38, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Flag of Great Britain isn't talking about the current Union Flag. For the latter, see the section above. - David Biddulph (talk) 17:10, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
See Union Jack#History. The flag of Great Britain was the original Union Jack. Here is says the proportions were 3:5 whereas at Flag of Great Britain is says 1:2. Rob (talk) 20:55, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Future of flag if Scotland leaves Union[edit]

It would be nice to have a section in the article about the issues arising if Scotland votes for independence next year. (talk) 04:34, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

A BBC News article on possible new designs may be found here, and information that there would be no change in practice here.--Tomobe03 (talk) 12:29, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

New Union jack/UK Flag ideas image[edit]

I have created an image showing new flags based on the formula used to create the current Union jack:
Alternative national flags for English-Welsh-Northern Irish union.png
Possibly could be included, thoughts? Rob (talk) 19:06, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Until Scotland actually does become independent, I don't think this is really relevant. (talk) 21:22, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

This is an article detailing the Union Flag, it's history and current use. How on earth do your fictional flags have a place on this page? You are suggesting that fictitious flags of your own choice should be included alongside an official national flag that had been in use since 1801? Alright then..... -H — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:31, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

There already is a "fictional flag" in the section. You're right though. That image should be removed or replaced with a Union Flag with the St Andrews cross removed for simply illustrative purposes. Rob (talk | contribs) 22:17, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Union Jack and flag codes[edit]

In Union Jack, you have put in a line guessing a reason why there are no rules about the disposal of the Union Flag equivalent to the American 'Flag Code'. The semi-official nature of the flag is undoubted, but that is no reason as there are plenty of official flags in the UK, and no rules cover those either. The reason there is no 'flag code', is that that no code has been enacted. We are a free country and a flag is only a piece of cloth and no one wants to lock their neighbour up for breaching one man's idea of etiquette. It is enough to state that there are no rules, without second-guessing why not. Hogweard (talk) 11:22, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi there! For starters, I did not add it myself but instead restored it (it has been a stable part of this article since 2008). That said, I've looked into the matter and it turns out there are official codes. This document from 2010 was developed jointly by Parliament Flags and Heraldry Committee the and the Flag Institute organisation. Our Flag Institute article also covers a subsequent amendment to the English Town and Country Planning Act that concerns this regime. It appears the section is in need of a broad revision. Ibadibam (talk) 18:38, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The Flag Institute Guidance is pretty good but are not a flag code. It covers which flags have precedence when flying together, the best way to fold a flag etc. It is all unofficial but does represent what has been considered socially appropriate and I have seen similar guidance elsewhere. There is nothing about disposal of flags and there are no sanctions for ignoring the guidance given.
The Town and Country Planning rules you found contain no flag flying protocol. The background is that displaying an advertisement requires planning permission, and flags are considered adverts; the new Regulations exclude certain flags from the need for planning permission if displayed as flags (so yes if on a vertical flagpole, no if stitched together in a long ribbon and tied round the shop). In authorizing certain flags the Regulations impliedly recognize the existence county and town flags).Hogweard (talk) 22:37, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Ah, thanks, I misread the report on the advertisement amendment, and missed that the national flag was already unrestricted (the amendment removes the permit requirement to fly other flags, looks like). As to the pamphlet, yes, it's not law, but it is a notable contribution, especially given the lack of an official code. How about it be mentioned, along with the Northern Ireland flags regulations, in a discussion of the established practices, customs and regulations for use of the flag? I've taken a stab at a rewrite. I omitted the link to the United States Flag Code, but hopefully it sufficiently captures the truth of the subject. Ibadibam (talk) 00:03, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
The present 'flag codes' used by some countries, treating the flag as some sort of revered object, possibly originated with the French, although whether it was pre- or post-Napoleon I don't know. If you've seen the state of some of Victory's flags after Trafalgar you'll probably see why the British don't bother about this sort of thing so much. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:41, 30 September 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps I can enlighten you by way of an anecdote. A Canadian I knew at the time of the Montreal Olympic games was at the opening ceremony with a US friend of his. As the flags paraded in some of the flags were lowered right down trailing on the ground as they saluted The Queen. Other flags lowered only to the horizontal. keeping the flag above the ground. The American commented on this to the Canadian along the lines of "we would never allow the flag to trail in the dirt". The reply was that a flag was a bit of cloth, the real symbol of the country was standing in the royal box. It is worth noting that US pledges of allegiance are given to the flag, the British equivalent is a loyal toast to the monarch. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:56, 30 September 2016 (UTC)

Merge these articles[edit]

Flag of Great Britain and Flag of the United Kingdom should be merged into this article. The 'Union Jack' was formed in 1606, not 1801. See The scope of both of them is within the scope of this article. Why do we need to have two articles about two specific uses of this flag? Should we also have an article at Royal Union Flag of Canada? or Naval Jack of the Royal Navy? (both are uses of the Union Jack). Flag of Great Britain and Flag of the United Kingdom give no additionally information on the specific uses. Currently there is more information on the Flag of the United Kingdom at this article, then at Flag of the United Kingdom, so what is the point in directing users there? We either need a clearly defined content split (which in my opinion is unhelpful) or we need to merge these articles. Rob984 (talk) 20:12, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Generally speaking, Flag of X articles are about all flags used by a given entity, including historical and alternate flags. The Union Jack article is supposed to be about two specific, related flags, one that served as the flag of Great Britain and was also called the "King's Colours", and one that serves as the flag of the United Kingdom, and also covers those flags' use in other contexts, such as in other flags and in fashion. That said, neither Great Britain nor the United Kingdom has ever had any other flag, and thus the tendency for the country-specific articles to be overlapped by that of the flag itself. So there may be some merit to a merge. Ibadibam (talk) 20:59, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
I should note also that the Union originated not as a national flag, but as a nautical insignia and later as an emblem of the sovereign. To this day, it doesn't have official status as the national flag, although it does have official status in a great many other uses. It's valuable to keep separate an article that discusses the design itself and its many applications (i.e. this article), and articles about the de facto national flags of the United Kingdom and its predecessor state. Ibadibam (talk) 18:30, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
I oppose a merge. I prefer to keep Flag of Great Britain and Flag of the United Kingdom separate from this article, because readers may want to view a specific "Flag of..." page without having to work their way through the entire history of the Union Flag and all the other content. Also, most major countries have a specific "Flag of {country}" page, so the UK should have this too, for reasons of consistency. I feel that a clearly-defined content split would be more suitable than a merge. - Blairall (talk) 18:52, 30 June 2016 (UTC)

Problem with the Pre 1801 Jack?[edit]

To my eye the the picture of the Preunion-with-Ireland-flag seems a little odd and clunky; Is its White saltire to thick?.

Can anyone confirm or reject my intuition? Or to put it more explicitly... Were the proportion of the thicknesses's of George's and Andrew's crosses the same on the old flag as the current one. A 3/2 ratio (disregarding fimbriation) as explained in the aricle.

If so I think the picture is wrong; as the crosses look equally thick on this flag.

Just had a look on google images this flag from the National Maritime Museum, This seems to give me some support.

Yes, I am having a very quiet evening.

Nige — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:57, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

The design of the flag is nowhere formally defined in the law of the United Kingdom, and there are no official dimensions of its ordinaries. The images on Wikipedia should follow common use, but in the era of hand-sewn flags there was little consistency. Have a look at this example this example and you'll see what I mean. Ibadibam (talk) 01:21, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

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Union "Jack" Name Origin[edit]

This claim in the article: "In 1606, James VI gave orders for a British flag to be created which bore the combined crosses of St. George and of St. Andrew. The result was the Union Jack, Jack being a shortening of Jacobus, the Latin version of James" ... needs a citation. I very highly doubt that peasants of 1606 used a nickname in Latin for the King. Grayghost01 (talk) 01:47, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

Quite right. "Jack" occupies 6 pages of the complete OED (2nd ed) and the use of the word in English goes back to the 14th century, appearing as a forename in Piers the Plowman. Quite early on it was used as a name for a peasant or "a man of the lower orders" (OED2). It continued the low class connotations in phrases such as "every man jack" or the use of jack for the knave in cards. The diminutive form is also seen in "Jack of all trades, master of none", where Jack implies a poor tradesman, possibly not up to journeyman standard. The term was taken into inanimate objects and denoted a small (or occasionally inferior) component: jack-pit (a small mine shaft), jackplug (single pronged, low current), jack-shaft (intermediate or idler shaft), jack (in bowling: the small ball) or jack-engine (a donkey or barring engine). Incidentally, a jack is a garment for the upper body (quotes from 1375 onwards), a jacket is derived from this and is a small jack; not the other way around.
Coming now to flags, a jack flag was a small flag, used to distinguish it from the large ensign or pennants. The OED mentions the theory of its derivation from James I or from a leathern jacket but dismisses both: "neither of these conjectures covers the early use of the word". Originally the jack would have been flown from the spritsail topmast head (OED2): "You are alsoe for this present service to keepe in yor Jack at yor Boultspritt end" (sailing instructions 1633 as quoted in OED2).In 1667 Pepys records the Dutch taking the Royal Charles and a man "struck her flag and jacke" - clearly two different things. By 1692 the jackstaff had been developed to fly the jack: "Jack staff and Jack" (OED2: jack-staff). Martin of Sheffield (talk) 12:26, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
It's also worth noting that this flag's origin is very much as a jack-flag. No flag was "just a flag". The jack was a distinct flag from the ensign, which until 1864 was a unit insignia, much like a regimental colour in both design and purpose. It was the jack that denoted nationality (compare to the United States, which has always used the same ensign for every ship, and came to use that flag, not the jack, as the national flag). It's also worth noting that the Union flag was not adapted to land use until 1743, when it was altered in dimension to serve as the King's Colour for all regiments. But it was the naval jack, with its narrower ratio, that became the national flag.
I also think it's important that, according to OED, the first use of "jack" for a flag was in 1633, while the flag itself was introduced in 1606. If the term "jack" relates to a garment, it would not be because the design was first used on such a garment, but because the flag was compared to one. OED's preferred etymology relating to the use of "jack" as a diminutive is also problematic, because most of the preceding or contemporary examples given are not only diminutive but also pejorative, and it's rather odd that such an insult would enter general use. So I think that it's not much less plausible that "Jack's flag" became "jack-flag". I'd also point to OED's definition of "jack" dating to the 16th century: "A name for various contrivances consisting (solely or essentially) of a roller or winch." Being that the jack was at the top of the mast and the ensign at the stern, perhaps the jack was a flag that had to be raised by windlass, unlike the ensign, which might simply have been lashed on. There are so many possibilities, and ultimately all anyone has is conjecture about this subject. Ibadibam (talk) 18:51, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
Just briefly (it's bed-time here): "jack" started out pejoratively but many of its meanings only carry "small" as the implication, so I doubt that an insult was intended. Consider a ship of 1606: there would be a small jack at the bows, a large ensign at the stern and a pennant form the main top (possibly other tops). The ensign would be several times the size of the jack, the pennant very many times longer. The jack was at the bowsprit top and would not need a windlass, it was small, the mast small and the mast a long way from the ship's windlass which was used for things like raising spars or the anchor. I think the jack/jacket explanation doesn't hold any water, the OED dismisses it, and the folk etymologists have the derivations the wrong way around.
Thanks for trying to get user:Platinumpaintitblack to try and use the correct forum rather than a blunderbuss approach to user talk pages! Martin of Sheffield (talk) 23:00, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
I shouldn't have said "windlass", because I really only meant a block or some other pulley. I based this only on the fact that the 1606 proclamation called for ships to "beare [the Union] in their Mainetoppe". If by 1633 it had changed to the bowsprit, does this mean that there was a change in ship design, or just a change in where the flag was flown? Ibadibam (talk) 23:33, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
I don't have the 1606 quote to hand, the OED seems to start with the 1633 sailing directions which refer to the bowsprit "Boultspritt end". The OED refers to the bowsprit topmast head. A jack at the maintop seems odd, not least because it would be barely visible. It's also important to bear in mind that it would be flown not only on ships, but also smaller vessels such as brigs, schooners and yawls. Most of these would not have a convenient mast at the end of the bowsprit, so either a jackmast (as later in powered vessels) or the fore-top stay would serve.
In the OED2 jack sb3 specifically refers to jack sb1 sense 34b on page 164 'diminutive force'. It includes the quotation:

In British use the jack has been since the 17th-c (except under the Commonwealth) a small sized 'Union Flag' of the period (Union Jack), which has also been, since 1707, inserted in the upper canton of the ensign; hence, the name 'Union Jack' is often improperly applied to the union flag itself when this is not carried or used as a jack. Every maritime nation has a jack of its own; this is usually, either as in Great Britain, the German Empire, Sweden and the United States, the same as the canton of the ensign, or, as in France or the Netherlands, identical with the ensign,only smaller.

— Prof J K Laughton, "jack sb3". Oxford English Dictionary. VI (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989. p. 166. 
The "Mainetoppe" quotation is at the "Union flag" entry. The full excerpt given there is:

[1606 King James VI & I in Stuart Royal Proclam. (1973) I. lxiv. 135 Whereas some difference hath arisen betweene our Subjects of South and North Britaine travayling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoyding of all such contentions hereafter, Wee have with the advise of our Councell ordered; That from hencefoorth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of great Britaine and the members thereof, shall beare in their Mainetoppe, the Red Crosse, commonly called St. Georges Crosse, and the White Crosse commonly called S Andrewes Crosse, joyned together according to a forme made by our Heralds.]

So while it's not here referred to as a "jack", nor is it flown at the bowsprit, it is the very flag that would later be flown at the bowsprit by 1633, and which had also acquired the name "jack" by that time. I take this to mean that the flag itself predated the concept of a jack flag, and that the term "jack" was coined to apply to the Union flag in particular. But what I really want to do is try to dig up contemporary illustrations to see how ships were actually wearing these flags. Interestingly, J.K. Laughton, while cited here in the 1989 edition, actually lived 1830–1915. I wonder whether he wasn't the first to write about the question of correct word choice. Ibadibam (talk) 18:48, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────So it was a flag when full size and flown at the maintop, but the small version flown in the bows was a jack. QED? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:49, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

The Laughton quotation above was evidently carried over from the first OED, in which the definition for UNION JACK reads “Originally and properly, a small British union flag flown as the jack of a ship; in later and more general use extended to any size or adaptation of the union flag (even when not used as a jack), and regarded as the national ensign.” It includes an 1801 magazine citation instancing this “later and more general use”, so after more than two centuries I think it would be quite pedantic to insist on “flag” in any context but the most technical.—Odysseus1479 23:36, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

I don't think that anyone is doubting the colloquial (“later and more general use”) use of "jack" for "flag". What has been argued is that "Originally and properly" the name is "jack" for a small flag in the bows and "flag" for the large variant elsewhere. Crucially though, this is not a modern invention, but a usage which goes right back to the development of the flag and is reflected in other nations' use. It's also in widespread and current use. An encyclopaedia ought to reflect the correct, precise, name and then note the common name rather than dismissing the correct name as "this idea has taken hold very firmly in many peoples' minds - but it is a falsehood, a modern myth". To give a reductio ad absurdum: King William I was known during his lifetime as "the Bastard", and has been ever since. Should we therefore change all references to "the Conqueror" to "the Bastard" on the basis of over nine centuries? Clearly not, and therefore we should not insist on dismissing the correct name for our national flag on the basis of a magazine article. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 08:35, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

I don’t think the ‘proper‘ name should be disparaged, and I certainly agree the origin and the terminological niceties should be explained. But neither should the reader be given an impression that general use of the common ‘nickname‘ is ignorant or wrong.—Odysseus1479 09:28, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
Agreed, it's just a case of getting the balance correct. This discussion started because one editor was disparaging it repeatedly and claiming the use of "Union Flag" to be an improper false modernism. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 10:03, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

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Origin of specifications[edit]

The heraldic blazon dates to 1801, but it gives no specifications as to colour or geometric proportions. The proposed flag bill of 2008 gives the specifications explicitly, but states that they have long been in use. So we are left with the task of documenting the history of their introduciton. So far, the article is completely ignorant of this.

"The Internet" knows these specifications are correct, but it doesn't have sources. In the best case, this information goes back to the Flags of the World mailing list, where the specifications were posted in 2003:

The official specification is based on 1/30ths of the width (or height) of the flag. The St George's Cross is 6/30ths (1/5th) of the width, the fimbriations to it are 2/30ths (1/15th) of the width. The St Andrew's Cross is a total of 6/30ths (1/5th) of the width, measured perpendicularly to the diagonal. This is made up, in the top hoist corner, top to bottom, of 3/30ths white, 2/30ths red, 1/30th white. These dimensions apply regardless of the length of the flag. An accurate drawing of the flag can be found at this page, or on our page here.
My sources tell me that the proportions of Royal Navy flags were set at 1:2 for ensigns and jacks, and 2:3 for command flags " early in Queen Victoria's reign". Can anyone supply me with the actual date? The general consensus of opinion (backed by the measurements of the one surviving ensign I am aware of) seems to be that this was a confirmation of a situation which had been extant since the last quarter of the 18th Century? Christopher Southworth, 18 April 2003
My impression is that there was no particular date. I think it happened as a matter of practical convenience when, probably about the middle of the 19th century, or a little earlier, the dimensions of naval flags stopped being expressed in 'breadths x yards', and changed to 'feet x feet'. 1 : 2 just happened to be the ratio that, at the time, most nearly expressed the relative size of a breadth to half a yard, and was adopted without any specific instruction. The Admiralty Flag Book of 1889 is not precise: "The practice has been, in regard to the dimensions of flags generally, to make the length twice the breadth at the head. The following appear to be exceptions to this rule. Admiral, length is one and a half times breadth." David Prothero, 18 April 2003

So the ratios can be traced to 1889. The origin of the 1/30th division of the height for the width of the crosses is still completely unknown. All we know at present is that they existed in 2003. I am sure they go back to the 20th century, if not the 19th, but we need a reference. Same for the choice of colours ("referenced" to Flags of the World, but in this case the information is not even in this online source). --dab (𒁳) 13:11, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

tl;dr I don't think we'll ever find any pre-20th century attempts at standardization because it was a matter of custom, not regulation.
I'm reading through the 2008 bill and finding no claim of longstanding use, as you mentioned in your first paragraph. The Admiralty Book of 1889 probably reflects the fact that, through the 19th century, flags were hand-sewn, and for all we know each flag or batch of flags may have varied depending on which ship's purser (or perhaps someone at the Office of Stores) placed the order, and what flagmaker did the work.
A breadth, according to Whispers From the Fleet (1908), BR20 and FotW, was 23 cm or 9 in, about 1/4 yard. Interestingly, Perrin (1922) cites Pepys as giving a 17th-century breadth of 11 inches (being half the width of the bunting as bought by the flagmaker), and describing flags as using roughly half a yard of fly for every breadth. Under an 11-inch breadth, that would be an 11:18 ratio, just slightly shorter than 3:5, whereas with a 9-inch breadth, it would be 1:2. This might be entirely coincidental, but if not it would explain the eventual adoption of 1:2. You can read more FotW discussion on this topic here. As to the cross widths, Southworth has a note on cross dimensions and fimbriation that's a bit obscure, but helps show that the widths of the diagonals relative to each other are fairly logical so as to make the two saltires of equal size, if you consider the fimbriation as part of the width of the St. Patrick's Saltire. But as you say, the width of the diagonals in relation to the overall flag is less clear, and I'd imagine their standardization has more to do with industrialization than anything else. Ibadibam (talk) 00:27, 11 August 2016 (UTC)
With respect to your edits, I'm glad you removed the detail about the St. Andrew's cross supposedly being fimbriated, but I think we introduce another error: were the thinner white diagonal part of the St. Andrew's cross, the blazon would read "cross saltire of St. Andrew ... surmounted by the cross saltire of St. Patrick". But because the blazon reads "quarterly per saltire, counterchanged argent and gules", that second band of white is unrelated to the St. Andrew's cross, and is merely the fimbriation of the St. Patrick's cross. So the Andrew's is 3 units wide, not 6.
Also, Fox-Davies cites Admiralty regulations giving the actual fractions. It would be great to track down the original. Ibadibam (talk) 20:30, 11 August 2016 (UTC)

Churchill on the flag[edit]

What is the relevance of the following, and how might it be used in the article?

Your title 'The Anglo Saxon' with its motto 'Blood is thicker than water' only needs the Union Jack & the Star Spangled Banner crossed on the cover to be suited to one of Harmsworth's cheap Imperialist productions.

— Winston Churchill, letter to his mother, 1899

The above sentence makes no claim about proper terminology. It does, however, indicate that the young Churchill felt that pro-imperialists had a tendency to overuse or co-opt the flag, or perhaps that the flag symbolized imperialism itself. Even so, does it belong in the article? Ibadibam (talk) 19:59, 17 August 2016 (UTC)

Here's a fuller context for the quote. As I am reading off Churchill's handwriting, there may be some errors, and there are two words I am unable to make out at all. If anyone can do better, it's on the second and third pages, in the link above. Edit: Thanks to Odysseus1479 for pointing out the official transcript!

But I think you have also quite lost the original idea of a magazine de luxe. Your title "The Anglo Saxon" with its motto "Blood is thicker than Water" only needs the Union Jack & the Star Spangled Banner crossed on the cover to be suited to one of Harmsworth's cheap Imperialist productions. I don't say that these have not done good and paid but they are produced for thousands of vulgar people at a popular price. People don't pay a guinea for such stuff. And besides there is a falling market as

regards Imperialism now. As for the motto "Blood is thicker than water" I thought that that had long ago been relegated to the pothouse & music Hall.

In the crowded literary market there was I believe just room for an expensive magazine published luxuriously and typical of a certain dilettante excellance – a magazine that might be read equally by the educated people of Paris of Petersburg of London or New York. Literary, artistic scholarly always – but blood & thunder never. But your apparent conception of a hearty production frothing with patriotism and a popular idea of the Anglo American alliance – that wild impossibility – will find no room among the literary ventures of the day.

As I said, if you can make out the words better than I, please go ahead. Ibadibam (talk) 20:34, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
That site includes transcripts, and has for the missing words above respectively “de luxe“, “vulgar”, “luxuriously”, “thunder”, “wild impossibility”, and “ventures”, all of which readings seem quite plausible to me. At any rate, while the letter may be evidentiary of the usage of “Union Jack” in common discourse, in the same register as “Star-Spangled Banner” (also a nickname), I don’t see it as bearing on the ‘proper’ terminology at all.—Odysseus1479 00:17, 18 August 2016 (UTC)