United Kingdom Flag: If Scotland Referendum Goes Through, What Would Britain, Australia, New Zealand Flags Look Like?

September 18, 2014 Updated: September 18, 2014

The United Kingdom flag is among those that could change if the Scottish Independence efforts succeed.

The vote results are scheduled to be announced on Friday morning.

The flag representing the United Kingdom combines three flags at present–that of England a red cross on a white background), Scotland (a white, diagonal cross on a blue background) and Ireland (a red, diagonal cross on a white background), and has origins that stretch back to 1606, reported the Australian Times.

“Some believe that, should Scotland obtain its independence, the St Andrew’s cross representing Scotland could (or should) be removed from the Union Jack with the possible consequence that at least 30 other flags could have to be changed too.”

The Union Jack also appears on the flags of Australia, New Zealand, and about 30 other countries, raising questions about whether these flags could be changed as well.

For the United Kingdom flag, it’s certainly possible that whether the Scotland design is removed, the Wales design is brought in. Wales isn’t represented in the union jack because it was part of the English kingdom when the flag was designed. 

“If Scotland’s coming out then surely Wales must go in,” Charles Ashburner, chief executive of the Flag Institute, told BBC last year. Some design possibilities include stripping the blue field of the Scottish flag and replacing it with black, and sees the white bands turn a shade of yellow; or stripping out the blue field and adding elements of Wales’ current national flag–the field of green and white that lies behind its red dragon.

But the College of Arms, the authority for official flags for the UK and the Commonwealth, told ITV last year that because the Queen would remain the head of state in an independent Scotland, the Union Flag would not be affected.

A close-up of a Welsh flag in this file photo. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
A close-up of a Welsh flag in this file photo. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Downing Street told the Guardian on September 16, 2014 that there are no plans in the event of the yes vote going through, including for the flag.

Ashburner, chief executive of the Flag Institute, reiterated his opinion, saying: “If Scotland is not in the UK any more, can it really be OK that Wales is not represented in the flag and Scotland is?” 

Others have voiced strong opinion, with a leading government advisor, Lord West, telling the Daily Mail that it was “nonsense” to suggest that Scotland’s saltire cross could remain part of the design. 

“In the event of a Yes vote I cannot see how you can save the flag of the United Kingdom,” he said.

In this photo taken on Monday, March 3, 2014, Victor Gizzi, left, and David Moginie, managers at flag manufacturer Flagmakers, pose next to flags of New Zealand, left, and Australia, in their factory near Wellington, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)
In this photo taken on Monday, March 3, 2014, Victor Gizzi, left, and David Moginie, managers at flag manufacturer Flagmakers, pose next to flags of New Zealand, left, and Australia, in their factory near Wellington, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)

There’s no word yet on whether the other 30 some flags will in fact change, but some are saying that the Australian flag will not change. 

“No matter what Scotland or Britain does, Australia’s flag is Australia’s flag and it is up to Australia what it does with it. So even if Britain did change its flag there is no way that it could or, I suspect, would ask Australia to change theirs to match it,” Graham Bartram, chief vexillologist of the Flag Institute, told The Australian.

Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief Perry Crosswhite also believes that the flag will endure.

“Opinion polls showed a steady increase in the numbers of Australians wanting their flag to change, specifically to remove the Union Jack. Support peaked at 52 per cent in the mid-1990s,” the paper noted. “Since then the pendulum has swung the other way with a 2010 Morgan poll revealing 69 per cent supported the retention of the Union Jack as part of their flag.”

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