The Union Jack is used by the United Kingdom as a national flag. In Canada, this banner is instead known as the Royal Union flag. It has also been adopted by several overseas territories which belong to Britain.
The flag has its origins in the reign of James VI of Scotland. When he inherited the throne, he intended to unite England, Scotland and Ireland under a single banner. Despite the design of this new flag, these three countries were still separate states. Each part of the Union Jack represents these countries. The St George Cross of red and white signifies England. The white saltire and blue background represent Scotland.
People are often curious why the Welsh dragon does not appear on this flag. The reason is, that during the time that the Union Jack was created, Wales was already under English rule. Therefore the red portions of the flag were deemed adequate enough to portray Wales. The red saltire has a dual role as the symbol for St. Patrick, a prominent figure in Ireland.
The Flag in Popular Culture
For centuries the Union Jack has had an important significance for the people of Great Britain. It is a nationalist symbol which is often associated with patriotism. This banner can also sometimes be associated with militarism. Winston Churchill wrote extensively on the importance of the flag. He noted its imperialistic implications.
Since the 1960s it has also become a prominent symbol in the fashion world. During this period, there was a movement known as the British Invasion that further spread the use of the Union Jack on clothing items. During the 2012 London Olympics, this phenomenon was seen once more, especially in Cuba. It was reported that citizens in this country not only waved British flags but also got the Union Jack tattooed onto their bodies.