Honours Proposal Edwin Crump An Example Case Study: The Union Flag Research Question: "In what way does the design of a ﬂag (including the symbolic representations in a ﬂag's design) expose the political construction and attitudes of the ﬂag's designer?" The Union Flag The Union Flag (or Union Jack) is the state ﬂag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It was created as the Union Flag in 1606 to demonstrate that England and Scotland were under combined rule. It has evolved over time to incorporate Ireland to make the ﬂag known today. The ﬂag is composed of three Patron Saint Crosses or saltiers. The original Union Flag is composed of the St George cross and the St Andrewʼs Cross (pictured below). The merging/ superimposing of ﬂags represents the merging of two governments, and the creation of a new power identity. + St Andrewʼs Cross = St Georgeʼs Cross The Union Flag, while created in 1606, did not gain legal status as the ﬂag of England or Scotland until those countries were combined into one nation with the Acts of Union in 1707. Before that time, it was used as the “Royal Union Flag” by the monarchs who held both the crowns of Scotland and England (starting with James VI/I in 1603, who commissioned the ﬂag) in a “personal union” rather than a political union. The Union Flag has become synonymously associated with the Union Jack, which is the Union Flag ﬂown off the jack of a ship. Common, incorrect references to the “Union Jack” demonstrate the importance of the British Navy in the history of the United Kingdom. The Union Flag, was used by the UK government as the ofﬁcial ﬂag of its colonies, and when ﬂown with a colonial statesʼ ﬂag had to be ﬂown higher, and was the object of salute. This helped to increase the perception of colonial citizenʼs notions of “being British”. The Union Flag also shows the political importance of England over Scotland, even though James VI/I was Scottish. This can be seen in the imposition of the St George Cross over St Georgeʼs cross, rather than the St Andrewʼs Cross over the St Georgeʼs Cross(1). Wales Wales has not been included within the 1606 and the 1801 Union Flag. Wales, as incorporated into England under subservient status (in 1282, then formalised in 1535), was not viewed as a distinct, separate or noteworthy addition to the identity of the new “United Kingdom”. It was regarded as wholly part of the Kingdom of England. This reﬂects traditional English attitudes towards the Welsh, and the suppression of their national identity, including its symbols, culture and language. There was also stylistic reasons for leaving out the Patron Saint Cross of Wales, the Flag of David, and these reasons should be considered equally important as the political reasons. The Cross of David (picture 4) does not lend itself well to inclusion in the Union Flag. Literally, there is no space for symbolic representations in a possible “Four-Cross” ﬂag. The contemporary Welsh ﬂag, (picture 5) also does not lend itself into a Union Flag(2). This ﬂag however was only granted ofﬁcial status in 1959. The Welsh dragon is a long-held symbol of Wales but not as part of its Patron Saint Flags, of which the Union Flag was comprised. Together, with the perceived lesser importance of Wales in the United Kingdom, as it was incorporated as part of England, meant that Wales was and is left out of the Union Flag. St Davidʼs Flag Welsh National Flag (Y Ddraig Goch) 2. For a representation of an attempt to combine these ﬂags, see the appendices. Ireland The later addition of Ireland directly into the United Kingdom (rather than as a colony) resulted in a further modiﬁcation to the Union ﬂag. Historical struggles with Ireland, both political and religious meant that the now British government wished to demonstrate that Ireland had lost its independent political identity and was now part of the United Kingdom. One way I which the British decreased Irelandʼs political autonomy was by taking the ﬂag of the Patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick and including it within the Union Flag in 1801. + = When considering the inclusion of St Patrickʼs cross into the Union Flag, it is an important issue to note that the St Patrickʼs cross was never considered by the Irish as either their national ﬂag or as the ﬂag for their Patron Saint, St Patrick as was true in the case of England and Scotland. While not having an ofﬁcial ﬂag for the entirety of the isle of Ireland, each province in Ireland had their own ﬂag. Unofﬁcially, the Flag of Leinster depicting a lyre on a green background could stand to represent Ireland as a whole (picture 9). The use of a non-Irish symbol on the Union Flag has political important because it demonstrates how the British, and speciﬁcally the English (non-celts), viewed the Irish. By utilising a British depiction of what is meant to represent the Irish, the British were continuing their process of Anglicising and Protestantising Irish culture and, as with the Welsh, denying the Irish their traditional symbols cultural icons. Later attempts were made to include these symbols within the Union Flag of 1801, such as the Lord-Lieutenant(3) ﬂag previously used in Northern Ireland. However, the design of the 3. Available in the appendices. Post-Colonial Union Flag The British Isles are slowly devolving. While ofﬁcial policy is that devolution created sub-national independent units, in reality new nation-states are being created. In 1919 the Irish Republic was proclaimed (quickly followed by the Irish Free State), Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland now have independent legislatures (Assemblies), and Scotland is set to vote on complete independence in the near future. The only currently available example is Irish Independence in the early twentieth century. However, this example holds limited relevance as the isle was divided into British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State (Eire) in the South and not therefore removed completely from the political spectrum necessary for inclusion within the Union Flag. Will this radical shift in the political landscape initiate a process of change for the Union Flag. If there is no, or limited union within what is currently the United Kingdom, will the Union Flag change to accommodate this? If the Scotch vote for independence then the St Andrewʼs Cross should be removed from the Union Flag to keep the ﬂag representative of the states within the United Kingdom. To the right is a mock-up of a Union Flag containing the St Patrickʼs Cross superimposed on a St Georgeʼs Cross to create a “Two-Cross” Union Flag. St Patrickʼs cross, it is important to note, only reﬂects Northern Ireland and not the entire isle. The most likely outcome is that the states and micro-states within the United Kingdom will use their own ﬂags as a foil to the Union Flag and the Union Flag will eventually lose it importance and relevance. Scotland will use the St Andrewʼs Cross. Wales will use the 1959 Welsh Flag rather than St Davidʼs Cross. The Isle of Man continue to use its ﬂag but in a more ofﬁcious manner. England will use St Georgeʼs Cross. Ireland uses the Irish Tricolour. The development of a distinctive Northern Irish ﬂag will be interesting, and purely dependent on the political process within Northern Ireland. Conclusion The Union Flag provides a complex and interesting example of all aspects of the political importance of a ﬂag, that is, political representations, political symbols and ﬂag design. The issues within and about the Union Flag continue to occupy an important place in the United Kingdom. The Union Flag provides a microcosm of the major issues of ﬂags in the world today, ranging from the political issue of who is represented in the ﬂag, symbols creating meaning in the ﬂag and the design of ﬂags affecting the political representation and importance of the ﬂag. As in every country, the Union Flag is an enduring brand for the United Kingdom, one of its great symbols with which UK citizens identify, yet at the same time the political importance of the Union Flag is fading in the face of the last stages of decolonisation and the new re-territorialisation of the political landscape. Appendices Lord-Lieutenant ﬂag of Northern Ireland while under British rule. It is interesting in its addition of a lyre to make the Union Flag more representative of Northern Irish interests. The design of the Union Flag clearly suffers from this addition. An attempt to introduce the St Davidʼs cross to the Union Jack. As clear, the design of the Union Flag suffers immensely with this addition. The Union Flag with the addition of the Welsh Dragon. Again, the design of the Union Flag suffers with this addition. The Union Flag, but with the Cross of St Andrew imposed over the Cross of St George. This would implicate Scotland as the dominant force in the Union.