The Union Jack

The Union Jack Explained
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The Union Jack Explained

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The Union Flag or Union Jack.

It is the flag of the United Kingdom.

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The Union Jack consists out of 3 flags.

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The Union Jack consists out of 3 flags.
st. George's Cross

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The Union Jack consists out of 3 flags.
st. George's Cross
st. Andrew's Saltire

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The Union Jack consists out of 3 flags.
st. George's Cross
st. Andrew's Saltire
st. Patrick's Saltire

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Up until the 16th century, the island we now know as Great Britain was divided into 3 kingdoms. 
By the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1542 Wales was united with England. 
At the beginning of the next century the queen of England died. 
Elizabeth 1, a.k.a. the virgin queen.

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1603 -> James VI of Scotland inherited the throne of England. Becoming James I of England.
So from 1603 James 1 ruled over England and Scotland.
it wasn't until 1707 that the two countries formally joined together forming Great Britain.

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The first Union flag

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In the 1600's the kingdom of Ireland came under English control. In 1801 the Act of Union came in force. 
Uniting the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland.
Creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

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So... Three flags, three names, three stories...
The cross of St. George.
The patron saint of England.
One of the myths about George on how he became a saint is that he saved a king’s daughter from being eaten by a dragon by slaying the dragon with a lance. The king rewarded him with treasures but George refused it and gave it all to the poor. They were all so impressed by what they had seen that they were all baptized and became christians...
(king Richard 1 declared this in 1222) 

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The Saltire of Saint Andrew
According to legend, the Picts (a tribe in Scotland) were to fight the Angles. They were heavily outnumbered so their leader Oengus prayed for victory and vowed to appoint Andrew as the patron saint of Scotland if they won...
Guess what?! They won...
St. Andrew was one of the 12 apostles. He is said to be crucified (at his own request) on an X-shaped cross. Because he felt unworthy to be crucified on the same cross Jesus had died on.

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Out of superstition the cross of Saint Andrew is also used as a hex sign on fireplaces in Northern England and Scotland to prevent witches from entering the house through the chimney to do mischief.

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The Saltire of St. Patrick
One legend on how Patrick became a saint is because he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. But evidence shows there were never any snakes on the emerald isle! The snakes, as it turns out, were a metaphor for the druids he drove out when he established christianity in Ireland.

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The Saltire of St. Patrick
Not the Irish flag you know, perhaps.
The Irish flag used today wasn't officially used until 1937. It was given by a group of French women who sympathised with the Irish cause for independance. First used during the Easter rising in 1916. 
Green: symbolises the Roman Catholics. Orange: symbolises the protestant followers of William of Orange.
White: symbolises peace between them.

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The Welsh Flag was not incorporated in the Union Jack because Wales was already under English law before this whole ordeal took place...

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Other symbols:
Scotland: The Thistle.
Wales: The Leek and Daffodil.
Ireland: The Shamrock.
England: The Tudor Rose. 
named after House of Tudor, that reigned over England from 1485 - 1603

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The End

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