Blue Ensign


Blue Ensign

The Blue Ensign is a flag, one of several British ensigns, used by certain organisations or territories associated with the United Kingdom. It is used either plain, or defaced with a badge or other emblem.

The evolution of the Blue Ensign followed that of the Union Flag. The ensign originated in the 1600s with the St. George's cross (see Flag of England) in the canton, and with a blue field background (top right).

The Act of Union 1707 united Scotland, England and Wales in the Kingdom of Great Britain and produced a new blue ensign which placed the Union Flag in the canton. With the Act of Union 1800, Ireland joined the United Kingdom and the St Patrick's Cross was added to the Union Flag of the United Kingdom and, accordingly, to the cantons of the British ensigns from 1 January 1801.

Plain blue ensign

Prior to the reorganisation of the Royal Navy in 1864, the plain blue ensign had been the ensign of one of three squadrons of the Royal Navy, the "Blue Squadron." This changed in 1864, when an order in council provided that the Red Ensign was allocated to merchantmen, the Blue Ensign was to be flag of ships in public service or commanded by an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve, and the White Ensign was allocated to the Navy.

Thus, after 1864, the plain blue ensign is permitted to be worn, instead of the Red Ensign, by two categories of civilian vessel:-
* British merchant vessels whose officers and crew include a certain number of retired Royal Navy personnel or Royal Navy reservists, or are commanded by an officer of the Royal Navy Reserve in possession of a Government warrant. The number and rank of such crew members required has varied over the years, as have the additional conditions required, since the system was first introduced in 1864.
* Yachts belonging to members of certain long-established British yacht clubs, for example the [http://www.rncyc.com Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club] . Permission for yachts to wear the blue ensign (and other special yachting ensigns) was suspended during both World War I and World War II.

Defaced blue ensign

Since 1864, the Blue Ensign is defaced with a badge or emblem, to form the ensign of United Kingdom government departments or public bodies, for example:-

* Vessels belonging to members of certain British Yacht Clubs (for example, the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club).

* Government vessels of UK overseas territories. This usage stems from the fact that in 1867–69, orders in council provided that the ensign for vessels in the service of any of the British colonies was to be the Blue Ensign, charged in the fly with the seal of the colony. Any British colony with ships in its service thus had reason to use the Blue Ensign. This worldwide, imperial use is the origin of the use of the Blue Ensign by many areas today, such as the Australian states. Although the distinguishing flag of Bermuda is a defaced "red" ensign, its government marine services (police, ferries, et cet.) fly a defaced blue ensign from both vessels and shore facilities.

The defaced blue ensign was formerly used as:
* The jack of the Royal Canadian Navy from its inception until the adoption of the Maple Leaf flag in 1965. (see [http://tmg110.tripod.com/canada2.htm Flags of the Royal Canadian Navy 1910–1965] ) The blue ensign was approved by the British Admiralty in 1868 for use by ships owned by the Canadian government.
* In the first half of the 20th century, Blue Ensigns for each province of Canada often appeared in charts of "all the world's flags", but these flags were just fantasies of the artists who drew the charts, and then copied by other artists putting together similar charts. They never existed in real life.

Flags of UK Overseas Territories using the Blue Ensign

These include:
*Flag of Anguilla
* (the flag commonly used on land, however, is Bermuda's Red Ensign)
*Flag of the British Virgin Islands
*Flag of the Cayman Islands
*Flag of the Falkland Islands
* (there is another flag, not based on an ensign, that is commonly used on land)
*Flag of Montserrat
*Flag of Pitcairn Islands
*Flag of Saint Helena
*Flag of Turks and Caicos Islands

The colonial flag of Hong Kong and the flag of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force were based on the Blue Ensign.

National flags based on the Blue Ensign

These include:
*Flag of Australia
**Flag of New South Wales
**Flag of Queensland
**Flag of South Australia
**Flag of Tasmania
**Flag of Victoria
**Flag of Western Australia
*Flag of Fiji (light blue)
*Flag of New Zealand
**Flag of the Cook Islands
*Flag of Tuvalu (light blue)

Other flags based on the Blue Ensign

*Flag of Hawaii

ee also

* British ensigns
* Australian flag debate
* New Zealand flag debate
* Green Ensign
* Red Ensign
* White Ensign
* Ensign

External links

* [http://flagspot.net/flags/gb-blenr.html Blue Ensign page on the "Flags of the World" website]


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