I meant to post something like this the other day in response to a couple of comments about the flags of the UK from various people. One person, and I won’t embarrass them by mentioning names, said what I hear from a lot of people including British folk. They said “I can’t tell the difference between the England flag and the British one, is there one?” Well, if you’ll allow me to put on my teachers hat I shall be only to happen to show you the flags of my country and explain to you the differences.

Okay, first off, the flag you all know is the Union Flag (Naval Jack), often called the ‘Union Jack.’ This is is the flag that many people mistakenly refer to as the English flag. It is in actual fact the British flag. That is to say it encompasses England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If you look at the English and Scottish flag, as well as the old Irish St Patrick’s cross (a flag ‘given’ to the Irish a long time ago by the English) you’ll see that the Union Flag in a combination of all of these flags.

Save LOTS of money on international money transfersThe English flag is the St George’s Cross. A simple red cross on a white background. This flag is more commonly paraded around by football (soccer) and Rugby fans. I’ve even heard some here in England refer to this flag as the “football flag” which is very sad indeed if you ask me. St George wasn’t a footballer, he is most famous for his mythical role as a dragon slayer. St. George was a real person though. He was acknowledged as Patron Saint of England by the end of the fourteenth century. In 1222 the Synod of Oxford declared a holiday in honour of St George, to be kept on 23 April. In 1415 Archbishop Chichele raised St George’s Day to a great feast and ordered it to be observed like Christmas Day. In 1778 the holiday reverted to a simple day of devotion for English Catholics.

The Red Dragon of Cymru, the Welsh flag, is pretty cool if you ask me. When I was a kid I wanted to be Welsh for two reasons, so I could speak their funny language and so I could take that flag as my national flag as it struck me as far more interesting than the British flag. It has a red dragon on it for heavens sake! To little boys, this stuff is far more exciting that red white and blue I can tell you.

The Scottish national flag, St Andrews’s Saltire, is simple in design. A white cross on a blue background. Though Scotland is often represented by a flag bearing a thistle too, but not in any official capacity.

The Tri color flag of Eire is Irelands flag. That’s southern Ireland, because of course, Northern Ireland is the historically disputed territory of Great Britain and therefore part of the UK. Eire’s patron saint is of course St Patrick, and everyone knows that. Across the world everyone seems to become strangely Irish on March 17th, St Patrick’s Day. Here in England, and across the UK, pubs often throw on special events for that day. A pint of Guinness is the traditional drink, and on March 17th a whole heck of a lot of the stuff is consumed. personally I’d like to see similar festivities here in England for St George’s day.

Another one of my favorite flags is the European Union flag. Officially released in 1992, this flag represents all of the counties within the European Union (the EU).

There are of course flags for the British Islands off our cost lines. Jersey is plonked somewhere between us and France, it’s seen as a tax haven, but personally I’d rather move to Monaco if I wanted to avoid tax. The Isle of Man is straddled somewhere between England and Ireland. They have a big motorbike race there ones a year called the Isle of Man TT. If you have a motorbike and you feel brave you can go there and charge around the course, hoping not to become one of the many people who have met their maker on that little island. (It’s also where the 1998 movie ‘Waking Ned Devine’ was filmed.)

There are of course other flags. The Royal family have a whole raft of flags, and seemingly different ones for different things. I dare say there is a Royal Standard (flag) for when the Queen is in the shower. Then there are the county flags, the state flags and the military flags and stuff, not to mentions the Arms. But I think I’ve educated you enough for now.

Hopefully you’re now all better informed about the flags of my country.

Flags of the United Kingdom
Medieval Sourcebook: St George
Guinness (learn to drink Irish)
Online Welsh translation engine
Welsh Language Board