Tuesday, May 04, 2021

There's nothing wrong with calling our national flag the Union Jack

It's featured in Doctor Who, and the last person I heard making the claim was Jim Davidson.

I don't know where the idea that it's wrong to call the UK's national flag the Union Jack comes from - on no evidemce. I suspect QI - but it's bollocks.

If you don't believe me, talk to Cdr Bruce Nicolls OBE RN (Retd) of the Flag Institute:

It is sometimes claimed that the Union Flag should be described as the Union Jack only when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea. From its earliest days, the Admiralty often referred to the flag – however it was used – as the Union Jack. 

In 1902 an Admiralty Circular announced that either name could be used officially. And in 1908 the UK Parliament approved this verdict, stating that ‘the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag’.

Cdr Nicholls's article featured in a Six of the Best here long ago. I still enjoy collecting links for this feature, but I find its name increasingly embarrassing.

Does anyone have a better idea for something to call it?


Anonymous said...

Keeping the number six, but dropping the corporal punishment reference, what about something to do hitting a six at cricket?

Epictetus said...

The Joy of Six

nigel hunter said...

What is anonymouse talking about? Calling it the 6 flag or 6 jack?! Unless he is mentioning the original.Six of the best the admiral was mentioned in.
You can be proud of either mention.of theflag and it is not limited to any single party

Phil Beesley said...

I reckon that the Union Jack misconception predates QI. These ideas just carry on, like the perceived evils of the split infinitive and ending a sentence with a preposition. On telly and radio, scientists persist with plural noun forms for the word data when using it as short hand for data set.

Words and expressions -- their meanings -- matter because when they are changed, it is difficult to turn them back. A cricket umpire is supposed to be disinterested; the ice cream seller may be uninterested; a difference in meaning that most pedants and myself (sic) have given up defending.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thank you, Epictetus!

Mark Johnston said...

Five finest finds

Anonymous said...

I assume the Joy of Six is about cricket?