On September 14, Scotland will hold a national referendum about whether to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country. If independence is approved, it would raise a host of questions- everything from what currency the new country would use to who would qualify for Scottish citizenship- and it could also trigger a redesign of the iconic Union Jack. English and Scottish colors came together on the British flag 400 years ago, when England and Scotland merged, and the red (English) cross of St. George was combined with the blue and white (Scottish) cross of St. Andrew. If Scotland splits, however, it might take its colors with it, and a UK organization called the Flag Institute recently solicited ideas for a redesigned British flag. Some proposals called for swapping Scottish colors for the red dragon and green bar of the flag of Wales; others kept the basic idea of the Union Jack while moving the design in a more modern, geometric direction. The flag question is fun to think about, but the exercise is likely to be purely academic: An independent Scotland would retain ties to the monarchy (just not the UK state) and, according to a recent BBC article, most observers predict that, in typical British fashion, the Union Jack will go on as if nothing's really changed.
Correction 1/21: The first version of this post included two errors. It incorrectly labeled the red English cross as the cross of St. Andrew and the blue and white Scottish cross as the cross of St. George, when in fact it's the reverse: St. George belongs to England and St. Andrew belongs to Scotland. It also stated, incorrectly, that the current version of the British flag dates back 400 years. As a reader pointed out, though, the current version dates to 1801, when the Irish cross of St. Patrick was added to the Scottish and English crosses.
Images courtesy of the Flag Institute.
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