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The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. "Union Flag" has been the name preferred in official documents since the late 19th century. "Union Jack" is the traditional name, and remains more popular, though it's strictly speaking incorrect, since a jack is for use only at the prow of a ship.
|Original Union Flag|
The current Union Flag dates from January 1, 1801 with the Act of Union with Ireland. The new design added the red saltire cross attributed to St. Patrick for Ireland. The saltire is counterchanged to combine it with the saltire of St. Andrew. The red cross actually comes from the heraldic device of the Fitzgerald family who were sent by Henry II of England to subjugate Ireland and has never been used as an emblem of Ireland by the Irish.
The Union Flag was originally a royal flag, rather than a national flag. In fact, no law has ever been passed making it a national flag, but it has become one through usage. Its first parliamentary recognition as a national flag came in 1908, when it was declared that "the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag". A more categorical statement was made by the Home Secretary in 1933, when he stated that "the Union Flag is the National Flag".
The Union Flag is found in the canton (top left-hand corner) of the flags of many former colonies of the UK, notably Australia and New Zealand. In both countries, the Union Flag was used semi-interchangeably with their national flags for significant parts of their early history. It was also flown in Canada until the Liberal government of Lester B. Pearson introduced a new flag in 1965. It is also shown in the canton of the state flag of Hawaii.
Regarding to flying it the correct way up, the broad white band on St. Andrew should be above the red band of St. Patrick in the upper hoist canton (the corner at the top nearest to the flag-pole).
England - Northern Ireland - Scotland - Wales[?]
Flags of the Channel Islands:
Alderney[?] - Guernsey - Herm[?] - Jersey[?] - Sark[?]
Blue Ensign[?] - Red Ensign[?] - White Ensign[?]