Let’s face it, the UK is confusing, and so is its flag. The video embedded below is my first made-for-watching YouTube video and explains how the UK became more than one country combined, and how its flag became what it is today. The video sets out to explain why the UK and its flag are confusing. I have included the whole script below the video but the video includes subtitles:
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If you’re watching this video, you are curious about how the British flag came to look the way it does. A lot of people don’t know what Britain is, and how it’s different from England, Scotland, or the UK. So before we get to the flag, let’s do a little history.
This is the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – the UK. It’s looked like this since 1801 when it was last changed. The map here shows the territory that is the United Kingdom. There are some islands nearby that are not in the UK, such as the Isle of Man, but which are in the British Isles. Note also that the southern half of the island on the left (west) is not part of the UK.
If we take Northern Ireland away from the United Kingdom, we are left with the island named “Great Britain”. It’s also one of the kingdoms that are “united”.
Within the UK there are several countries. The first of these is Scotland. The flag on the left is the flag of Scotland.
South of Scotland we have England, the largest country in the UK.
This is the flag of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Depending who you ask, Ireland was a part of the UK from 1801 until 1916 or until 1921.
Between the 24th of April 1916 and 1921, the south of Ireland became independent from the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland, the red patch at the top right, remains part of the United Kingdom to this day.
Combining these three flags, with a few adjustments… first Scotland.
Then England on top of Scotland.
Then Ireland’s St Patrick’s cross on top of both… modified….
Becomes the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Properly this is the “Union Flag”.
Between 1707 and 1801, the United Kingdom did not include the flag of St Patrick and looked like the bottom flag here.
You may now be wondering: “What about Wales?” Wales is a nation in Great Britain and part of the UK, so why isn’t it on the Union flag?
Sadly for the Welsh, they had been conquered by the English and so were considered to be part of England when the Act of Union merged “England” and Scotland.
There have been informal discussions about adding St David’s cross to the UK flag in the same way as was done with the English flag added to the Scottish flag. That would look something like this because St David’s flag is a yellow cross on a black background.
Thanks for watching. This video was made by Gavin Ayling, author. Find more of my content at ayling.tech/gavin.