The Union Flag or Union Jack is the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and was also used throughout the former British Empire. It retains an official or semi-official status in many Commonwealth Realms.
It is commonly referred to as the Union Jack or more properly Union Flag as it only becomes a Jack when flown from a ship's jack mast. In Canada the flag is officially called the Royal Union Flag.
Note that the jack flown by ships of the United States Navy is also referred to as the Union Jack.
The current design of the Union Flag or Jack dates from the union of Ireland and Great Britain in 1801 with the formation of the United Kingdom.
The Court of the Lord Lyon, which has criminal jurisdiction in heraldic matters in Scotland, confirms that the Union Flag "popularly called The Union Jack, is the correct flag for all citizens and corporate bodies of the United Kingdom to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and their nationality."
Its correct proportions are 1:2. However, the version officially used by the British Army modifies the proportions to 3:5.
A careful examination of the flag shows that, contrary to popular belief, the flag does not have reflectional symmetry, but has a right side and a wrong side up. A mnemonic to remind those flying the flag which end is up is Wide white top - the broad white stripe (composing part of the cross of Saint Andrew) should be above the red stripe (the cross of Saint Patrick) in the upper hoist of the flag (the hoist is the half of the flag near the flagpole). This is particularly important because the flag is flown upside down as a distress signal.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Union Jack". You can explore more on the Wikipedia website. The text and the images are used here only for educational purposes.
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