The current design
The current flag of the United Kingdom combines Saint George’s Cross (representing England), Saint Andrew’s Cross (representing Scotland) and Saint Patrick’s Cross (representing Northern Ireland).
In recent times, there have been questions about the future of the flag, especially after the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit. I have prepared a flag design for each of these questions:
• Only three of the four Home Nations are represented on the flag. There is no representation for Wales. What if Wales were included on the flag?
• What if Scotland leaves the union?
• What if Northern Ireland leaves the union?
• What if both Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the union?
• What if Britain becomes a republic?
Each of my designs is simple enough to be remembered by a child, yet distinctive enough to be identified at a distance. In all cases, I have aimed to retain the pattern of the Union Jack as much as possible to aid recognition and suggest continuity.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
Thanks to my cultural advisor and fact checker Gavin Ayling.
Vector files available on request.
Proposed flag of the United Kingdom with Wales
This design is part of my 2009 flag proposal series (the flag designs from my old site with the most hits and ratings).
Initially, this flag did not get many hits, so I didn’t transfer it from my old site in 2009. Years later, someone personally requested me to upload this design again. It had not been online for over five years, yet this person remembered the design and its author! That had to mean something.
The current flag includes crosses to represent three of the four Home Nations: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, there is no reference to Wales, the remaining Home Nation. Understandably, from time to time, commentators in Wales (and elsewhere) have called for the flag to be updated to properly include all four Home Nations.
There have been previous proposals to include Wales on the flag. However, those look quite horrible to me. Those designs tend to force too many elements together in an unwieldy and overly complex way. Therefore, here is my proposal:
This design modifies the current flag by adding Saint David’s Cross (black and gold) to represent Wales. This way, all four Home Nations are now represented in a way that continues the original tradition of the Union Jack.
This design also features some other small “fixes”:
- The ratio of the overall flag is now shorter to match the original ratios of the Home Nations flags.
- Saint Andrew’s cross (representing Scotland) is now sky blue to match the blue on the original Scottish flag.
- Saint Andrew’s cross (representing Scotland) and Saint Patrick’s cross (representing Northern Ireland) are now in equal proportions.
Proposed flag of the United Kingdom without Scotland
In the future, Scotland may vote to become independent. This nearly happened in a referendum in 2014 and there is still lots of discussion of this issue.
In this scenario, Saint Andrew’s Cross (blue and white saltire) would be removed from the Union Jack. There are a number of proposals for what the result should look like. Mine is shown below. It also includes the fixes from my “Proposed flag of the United Kingdom with Wales” design – Saint David’s Cross is included to represent Wales and the overall ratio is the original short length.
Proposed flag of the United Kingdom without Northern Ireland
In the future, Northern Ireland may vote to leave the United Kingdom and unite with the rest of Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement stipulates that a referendum for Irish unification can be held if public support is high enough; this has not happened yet but it remains a future possibility.
In this scenario, Saint Patrick’s Cross (white and red saltire) would be removed from the Union Jack. There are a number of proposals for what the result should look like. My proposal is shown below. It also includes the fixes from the “Proposed flag of the United Kingdom with Wales” design – Saint David’s Cross is included to represent Wales, the blue has been corrected to the original sky blue and the overall ratio is the original short length.
Proposed flag of the United Kingdom without both Scotland and Northern Ireland
In the future, the previous two scenarios might both happen.
In this scenario, only England and Wales would remain in the union. My proposal quarters Saint George’s Cross (representing England) and Saint David’s Cross (representing Wales). It also adjusts the overall ratio to the original short length.
Proposed flag of the British Republic
In the future, the United Kingdom might even become a republic! It is an unlikely scenario but there is support for the idea and stranger things have happened in history.
In this scenario, I think it would be imperative to change the flag. Some others have claimed that the current Union Jack would not need to change, since it does not have any explicit reference to the monarchy. However, I argue that the British monarchy is so fundamental to the national identity that becoming a republic would essentially be a transformation into a completely different nation altogether. This would make it necessary to change fundamental national symbols as well.
When the republican movement was largest in the 19th century, a few flag designs were proposed, but none of these caught on. Those were all boring tricolour designs, and their main proposal was identical to the present day flag of Hungary. Currently, there are no specific flag designs that are associated with a British Republic and the republican movement in the public mind. Therefore, here is my proposal.
My proposal is simple and bold. It resembles the current Union Jack to aid recognition and suggest continuity, yet has its own distinct symbolism.
The central emblem is a compass, representing Britain’s maritime history, its role in the Age of Exploration, its global outlook and its worldwide influence in all directions.
The four cardinal points represent the four Home Nations, united as one: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The four intercardinal points represent Britain’s four worldwide influences:
- The English language, now the de facto global lingua franca.
- Political institutions like parliamentary democracy, common law and the Commonwealth of Nations.
- The Industrial Revolution, marking the shift from agrarian society to the use of machines and a higher standard of living.
- Significant contributions to modern science, including many geniuses like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ada Lovelace, Francis Crick, Stephen Hawking, Tim Berners-Lee and more.
The blue represents the ocean, boundless ambition and excellence, the white represents the coastline, snow and the Enlightenment, and the red represents the land, courage and sacrifice. The overall layout suggests an island surrounded by ocean, but not isolated by it, as its influence radiates outwards like the points of the compass.