Union Flag: Specification

The Union Flag

The Union Flag

For an authoritative Union Flag (or Union Jack) specification – with a full and accurate description of the UK’s national flag, plus diagram and image – please see the text of the Union Flag Bill 2008, displayed below in its original version, and in an amended version with Flag Institute additions and clarifications.

Sponsored by Andrew Rosindell MP, the Union Flag Bill 2008 aimed to reinstate the original 3:5 version of the Union Flag for all official (and unofficial) purposes. It was introduced in the UK Parliament under the Ten-Minute Rule on Tuesday 5 February 2008 but failed to progress beyond its first reading.

In summary, the Bill affirmed the Union Flag as the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; confirmed the proportions of the flag as 3:5; endorsed its dual names – Union Flag and Union Jack; and provided a written description of the flag.

It made no change whatsoever to the flag’s design but merely sought to codify longstanding custom and practice often ignored in flagmaking for both public and private sectors.

The Union Flag Bill 2008

Bill 6554/3

A
B I L L
TO

Define the Union flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; to make provision about the display and flying of the Union flag; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

1 Definition of Union flag
(1) Any Union flag (commonly known as the Union Jack), flown pursuant to or in accordance with any Act, instrument or guidance issued under any Act or instrument, must conform to the description in the Schedule.
(2) The Union flag, as described by this Act, shall be the official flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2 Short title and extent
(1) This Act may be cited as the Union Flag Act 2008.
(2) This Act extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

S C H E D U L E
DESCRIPTION OF UNION FLAG

1 (1) The Union flag is composed of three crosses on a royal blue background, as follows-
(a) a red St. George’s cross,
(b) a white St. Andrew’s saltire,
(c) a red St. Patrick’s saltire.
(2) The proportions of the flag are three units wide to five units long.
(3) The overall width of the diagonals is six units, comprised of three units of white, two units of red and one unit of white.
(4) The diagonals run from corner to corner with the centre line of each six unit wide diagonal intersecting opposite corners of the flag and intersecting the centre line of the other six unit wide diagonal in the centre of the flag.
(5) A red cross six units wide runs from the edge to edge, centred on the flag.
(6) This red cross is bordered by a white fimbriation (or edge) two units wide.
2 The flag is to be flown with the broader white diagonal on the side nearest the flagpole uppermost.

Amendments

The description of the Union Flag in the original Bill was incomplete in some details. The Flag Institute therefore suggests the following additions and clarifications (shown in red):

S C H E D U L E
DESCRIPTION OF UNION FLAG

1 (1) The Union flag is composed of three crosses on a royal blue background, as follows-
(a) a red St. George’s cross,
(b) a white St. Andrew’s saltire,
(c) a red St. Patrick’s saltire.
(2) The proportions of the flag are 30 units wide to 50 units long.
(3) The overall width of the diagonals is six units, comprised of three units of white, two units of red and one unit of white.
(4) On the side of the flag nearest the flagpole (ie. the hoist) the broader white diagonal is uppermost and on the side furthest from the flagpole (ie. the fly) the narrower white diagonal is uppermost.
(5) The diagonals run from corner to corner with the centre line of each six unit wide diagonal intersecting opposite corners of the flag and intersecting the centre line of the other six unit wide diagonal in the centre of the flag.
(6) A red cross six units wide runs from the edge to edge, centred on the flag.
(7) This red cross is bordered by a white fimbriation (or edge) two units wide.
2 The flag is to be flown with the broader white diagonal on the side nearest the flagpole uppermost.
3 The colour specifications for the flag are Pantone 280 C for royal blue and Pantone 186 C for red. No specification is given for white.

The following specification diagram was drawn up in drafting the bill:

3x5 Union Flag Diagram

Further reading

Progress of The Union Flag Bill on the UK Parliament website; report in
Hansard on the debate on the First Reading of the Union Flag Bill, House of Commons, 5 February 2008.