The country with a red cross on its flag is England. England is the largest country in the United Kingdom, and the origin of the red cross on the flag.
Additionally, the United Kingdom – comprised of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – flies the Union Jack, which bears a red cross against a blue background.
The red cross on the flag of England is the cross of Saint George but is also often referred to as the cross of King George.
Saint George is considered England’s patron saint, which is a deity or entity that guides or protects a specific person or location. Learn more about the red cross on England’s flag and its significance here.
Table of Contents
- What is the flag of England?
- What is the origin of the cross of England?
- How has Saint George’s cross been used historically?
- When does England use this flag?
- Is the flag for the United Kingdom the same?
- Are there variations of the flag in the United Kingdom?
- Are there restrictions to flying the Union Jack?
- Would you fly the flag of England?
The flag of England is a white flag with a red cross through the center of it. The flag has been England’s flag since 1098 when Saint George led his team to a victory during the Battle of Antioch.
His team was known as the Crusaders, and they maintained this as the English flag until 1189.
In 1277, King Edward I used the red cross from the flag for pennants that his defense team flew. His flag was called the Banner of Victory and was depicted in very early English artistic renditions of Jesus Christ.
In the latter half of the thirteenth century, the flag was flown on English ships.
Today, the red cross remains a staple symbol in England, and all across the United Kingdom. The Union Jack is also flown all over the world in other Commonwealth countries as frequently as each country’s own national flag.
It is an ever-present reminder of the patron saint of victory in the pursuit of peace.
The origin of the red cross on the English flag comes from Saint George. Saint George is the patron saint of England and is known for victory in many battles in the pursuit of peace.
He was, as legend says, a dragon slayer, and his cross bears that message everywhere in England, across the United Kingdom, and throughout the 54 countries of the Commonwealth of today.
The cross was not always Saint George’s though, and that is where some confusion lies about the historical significance of the red cross. Before Saint George, however, Henry the II of England also used a flag with a cross.
In 1188, Henry II launched a fight with France’s Philip II.
During that fight, Henry II bore a flag with the white cross, while Philip II bore a flag with the red cross. Henry II won the battle.
Today, the red cross remains a symbol in England and the United Kingdom, but it is the true cross of Saint George in the minds of the English.
The history of St. George’s cross is centuries old. After King Edward I made the cross an emblem of the English flag, the flag was also called the banner of St. George by the year 1300 and still is today.
By 1415, the English would celebrate St. George’s Day annually, which is essentially considered Flag Day. It was a day of feasting and celebration of peace and freedom after hard times.
In 1497, King Henry VII asked John Cabot to come to Newfoundland, a region that would later become a province in Canada.
There, John Cabot took the banner of Saint George and used it as a maritime flag along with other royal banners that were used until 1545.
It was in 1606 when St. George’s banner was combined to create the Union Jack for the entire United Kingdom.
Today, the British, and many members of the Commonwealth around the world will tell you strenuously and with seriousness that St. George’s cross is the English flag, and the Union Jack is not the national flag of England.
England uses this flag for every celebration. Officially, today, the flag is flown at the Church of England. The names of the English flag and St. George’s cross are used interchangeably.
In many cases, the church will include an emblem of the diocese in the upper left corner of the flag as a symbol to mark that it is the Church flying St. George’s cross.
The flag today is also flown at sporting events, celebrations for the Queen, and is a strong symbol of English nationalism, distinct from the Union Jack.
No, the flags of the United Kingdom and England while both beautiful, are similar, but not the same.
The flag for the United Kingdom has a blue background with a red cross, against a red X background which is the saltire of Saint Patrick and Saint Andrew. Red, white, and royal blue are the official colors of the flag of the United Kingdom.
Although the British will get upset if you call the Union Jack England’s national flag, they are still as proud of their Union Jack as they are of their St. George’s cross.
The Act of the Union in 1801 solidified the Union Jack as the flag that united the entire kingdom that would eventually include England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.
There have been variations of the flag discussed in each country of the United Kingdom. In Wales, the Welsh dragon was considered to be placed at the center of St. George’s cross, and in Northern Ireland, a yellow border is used around the cross.
The Welsh dragon was considered in 2007, but Conservative ministers found the idea to be eccentric and voted against it.
In Northern Ireland, the Union Jack is flown from government buildings per law established in 2000. It no longer flies on the birthdays of Queen Elizabeth or her daughter, Princess Margaret.
The requirements for flying the flag are the only changes to this Union Jack in Northern Ireland, not to the flag itself.
In Scotland, many pitches have been made to the government to alter the Union Jack in a way that would make it distinctly Scottish.
Those were voted against as recently as 2013. Then, the Scottish government decided that the flag would not be changed.
Flying the flag is an expression of freedom and there are not many restrictions to flying it anywhere in the United Kingdom. It can be flown by anyone at any time, with few exceptions.
The most notable exception is that of government buildings in Northern Ireland, on certain days.
One of those days is the birthday of the Duchess of Cornwall, on which the Union Jack could not be flown for some time.
As of new legislation in 2020, the flag can now be flown on the birthdays of the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, notably, Prince William and the potential future queen, Kate Middleton.
Some British people think that it is illegal to fly the flag upside down, but this is not true. Rather, the flag upside down is a distress signal, and this can be considered offensive if there is no true national distress as a subject.
The country with the flag with the red cross is England, and this same red cross appears on the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom.
The use of this cross goes back hundreds of years in the country, and indeed the kingdom. Would you fly it?
What do you feel when you see the Union Jack, knowing what you know now?