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Flag of England


Flag of England

Use Civil and state flag
Proportion 3:5[1]
Design Argent, a cross gules, i.e. a red centred cross on a white background
The flag of England flying alongside the flag of the United Kingdom in Southsea, Portsmouth, in July 2008

The flag of England is derived from blazon: Argent, a cross gules). The association of the red cross as an emblem of England can be traced back to the Middle Ages, and it was used as a component in the design of the Union Flag in 1606; however, the English flag has no official status within the United Kingdom. Since the 1990s it has been in increasingly wide use, particularly at national sporting events.


  • Origins 1
  • Derived flags 2
    • Union Flag 2.1
    • City of London 2.2
    • Royal Navy 2.3
  • Contemporary use 3
    • Church of England 3.1
    • Sporting events 3.2
    • English nationalism 3.3
  • Outside England 4
    • Canada 4.1
    • Channel Islands 4.2
    • Elsewhere 4.3
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Paolo Uccello (c. 1460)
Illustration of the St. George's Cross used alongside the Royal Standard by Wat Tyler's rebels. Froissart's Chronicles BL Royal 18 E.I, fol. 165v, c. 1470.

In 1188 Henry II of England and Philip II of France agreed to go on a crusade, and that Henry would use a white cross and Philip a red cross. 13th-century authorities are unanimous on the point that the English king adopted the white cross, and the French king the red one (and not vice versa as suggested by later use). It is not clear at what point the English exchanged the white cross for the red-on-white one.

There was a historiographical tradition claiming that Richard the Lionheart himself adopted both the flag and the patron saint from Genoa at some point during his crusade. This idea can be traced to the Victorian era;[2] Perrin (1922) refers to it as a "common belief", and it is still popularly repeated today,[3] even though it cannot be substantiated as historical.[4]

Red crosses seem to have been used as a distinguishing mark worn by English soldiers from the reign of Newfoundland in 1497.

maritime flag, in conjunction with royal banners, dates to 1545.[1] In 1606 it was combined with the Scottish St. Andrew's Cross to form the Union Jack.

The concept of a Irish irredentism, as noted by G.K. Chesterton in 1933,

"As a very sensible Irishman said in a letter to a Dublin paper: 'The Union Jack is not the national flag of England.' The national flag of England is the Cross of St. George; and that, oddly enough, was splashed from one end of Dublin to the other; it was mostly displayed on shield-shaped banners, and may have been regarded by many as merely religious"[11]

Derived flags

Union Flag

The flag of England is one of the key components of the [16]

From 1801, in order to symbolise the union of the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland, a new design which included the St Patrick's Cross was adopted for the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.[17] The Flag of the United Kingdom, having remained unchanged following the partition of Ireland in 1921 and creation of the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, continues to be used as the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

City of London

The defaced with the Union Flag in the first quarter

The white background, with a red sword in the upper hoist canton (the top left quarter). The sword is believed to represent the sword that beheaded Saint Paul who is the patron saint of the city.[18]

Royal Navy

The flag used by the British

See also


Channel Islands


Due to the spread of the northern Italian cities, such as Milan and Bologna.

Outside England

As the national flag of England, the St George's cross is also used in English nationalism in conscious distinction from the Union Flag. This is parallel to, but less widely practiced, than the use of the flag of Scotland as distinct from the Union Flag in Scottish nationalism. While the flag of Scotland has been officially defined by the Scottish Parliament in 2003, the flag of England does not figure in any official legislation, and its use by English nationalists was for some time limited to the "far-right", notably the British National Party (founded 1982). Since the flag's widespread use in sporting events since the mid-1990s, the association with far-right nationalism has waned, and the flag is now frequently flown throughout the country both privately and by local authorities,[24] although it also remains in use by nationalist groups such as the English Defence League (founded 2009).

English nationalism

Before 1996, most of the flags waved by supporters were Union Flags. It is now observed that most are England flags.[23] In a sporting context, the flag is often seen being waved by supporters with the unofficial addition of the word 'England' across its horizontal bar.

The flag is also seen during other sporting events in which England competes, for example during England Cricket matches (the Cricket World Cup and The Ashes), during Rugby Union matches[21] and in football.[22] It is also used in icons on the Internet and on the TV screen to represent teams and players from England.

English Rugby team supporter waving the English flag in the streets of Nantes, France in 2007.

Sporting events

Churches belonging to the diocese in the left-hand upper corner of the flag.[20]

Church of England

Flag flying on Leeds Town Hall (2009).

Contemporary use


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