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Flying high: What happens to the Union flag if the Union breaks up? (Cristian Bortes CC BY 2.0


The Scottish Parliament has voted to hold — or attempt to hold — a second referendum on seceding from the UK. In the event a second referendum is held (unlikely though its success may be), the UK must be prepared to act decisively — to save the Union Jack.

What would happen to the Union Jack in the event of Scotland withdrawing from the Union, and taking the Cross of St Andrew with it? It would devastate the flag, and the aesthetics of heraldry in general: the Union Jack is one of only four beautiful national flags. (The others belong to the United States, Communist China and Israel.)

There would be similar damage to the UK’s global presence: at the moment, the Union Jack is perhaps the most widely recognised symbol in the world, along with the crucifix and the crescent. Is the UK simply to accept its destruction at the hands of Nicola Sturgeon?

I’m an American; I don’t wish to presume on domestic British vexillology. But it occurs to me that there is a solution — in fact, a solution that kills two birds with one stone. The navy shade of blue on the Union Jack is considerably darker than the azure Scotland uses on its national flag. The Union Jack’s blue is nearer in colour to the blue used on the official flag of the Church in Wales — the first British country to form a union with England, and the only one not represented on the Union Flag.

Therefore, if Scotland decides to go its own way, the Parliamentary Flags and Heraldry Committee should simply declare that the white saltire cross in the Union Jack’s background is the peripheral accompaniment of the Cross of St Patrick, identical in style to the accompaniment of the Cross of Saint George — and that the blue field they sit on is symbolic of Wales, as in the official church flag adopted in 1954, “to assert,” as the BBC puts it, the Welsh “national identity”.

The flag is saved and the Cymry recognised. Long last the United Kingdom.

 
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