Why is the UK flag called The Union Jack?

union jack flag

The national flag of the United Kingdom is also commonly known as the Union Jack, and is perhaps one of the most recognised flags in the world. It’s featured on coffee mugs, draped at the back of jeans jackets and on buntings for special celebrations. It’s the UK flag most people are familiar with. 

Before we go into the details about the Union Jack let’s look at The United Kingdom, or Britain, which is found in Western Europe. The UK is made up of the Island of Great Britain, Ireland, and other smaller islands, and consists of four countries including England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Irelands. 
In addition to the Union Jack, the UK has several additional national symbols such as the national personification known as Britannia, the national animals bulldog and the lion (the English female football team is for example called the ‘Lionesses’) as well as the national anthem – God save the Queen/King. 
Aside from the UK, the Union Jack is also the official flag of the UK’s British Overseas Territories. In addition, the flag appears on the upper left-hand region of the flags of some countries that were once colonies of Britain, such as Australia and New Zealand for example. In modern history, Winston Churchill,  who was the Prime Minister of the UK between 1940 and 1945, made the flag popular. Post-war the Union Jack has been used in British fashion and is famously seen on merchandise around Carnaby Street in London. A fun fact about the flag is that it doesn’t have a specific code of conduct attached to it which means it can be reproduced in its original form on merchandise, memorabilia and printed materials.

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The history of the UK flag

The flag’s design dates all the way back to 1606. The design of the Union Jack features three symbols;  the red cross of Saint George, the Saltire of Saint Andrew, and the Cross of St Patrick, which is also red. All these three symbols, which represent England, Ireland, and Scotland, are on a blue background. King James I (James VI of Scotland) designed the flag when he inherited the thrones of England and Scotland back in 1606
Around 1674 the British flag became formally known as the ‘Union Jack’ when mounted on a warship and the ship was not in harbour. At the same time, the British flag was referred to as the ‘Union flag’ on land. 
The Union Jack received a facelift  in 1801 to also incorporate the cross of St. Patrick to represent Ireland, which is the current design of the flag you’d be familiar with. 

Where the name Union Jack came from

The naming of the flag can be traced back to the 17th century. At that time, the kingdoms of England and Scotland had not been united. When King James VI of Scotland became the next king of England it was called the union of the crowns.
In 1606, after King James VI had become king, he created the British flag merging the two kingdoms under his leadership, by incorporating the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George to represent both Scotland and England. This was one of the first designs of the Union Jack but back then it wasn’t known as the Union Jack. Instead, it was simply known as the British flag. 

No one knows for sure how the name Union Jack came about. However, one of the most popular theories is that the nickname originated from the use of the flag on ships. Back then, the maritime flag was commonly known as the “jack” even before the flag was designed. 

The Union Jack or the British flag was flown from the jack-staff, which is a spar on the bow of a sailing ship. And became known as the Union Flag on land and the Union Jack when used on ships. Eventually, the name Union Jack became the name used wildly even on land. 

Student Accommodation London

With it’s rich history and endless opportunities, London is an excellent city to kick-start your career. We’ve listed why an internship in London will set you up for success. For those deciding to to study in London there are a numer of language courses available as well as topnotch university degrees. We’ve rounded up a guide to the exciting Student Life In London listing everything you need to know including 7 Free Things To Do in London For Students.

When you’ve decided to do your internship or study in London, it’s essential for you to look for student accommodation that meets your criteria before moving in. There are plenty of London student accommodation options. Although the traditional university halls and student residence London still remain the favourite for many first-timers, there has been a significant rise in privately renting your student accommodation in London.

We’ve rounded up a few accommodation options you can pick from as a student in London, from luxury London student accommodation, to Why you should consider living in Wembley, London. University Hotels are usually most popular among undergraduate students in their first year. It can be a comfortable stay for students who prefer living inside the university campus and it also makes it convenient to go to class and also to make new friends from all around the world. Some university hotels provide meals including full board and some don’t. There are also different student room options including cheap student room london and shared rooms where a private room will cost more.

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