The Blue Ensign is a flag, one of several British ensigns, used by certain organisations or territories associated or formerly associated with the United Kingdom. It is used either plain or defaced with a badge or other emblem.
|Design||Blue with the Union occupying one quarter of the field and placed in the canton.|
The Acts of Union 1707 united England and Wales with Scotland in the Kingdom of Great Britain, thus producing a new Blue Ensign with the new Union Flag in the canton. With the Act of Union 1800, Ireland became a part of the new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and St Patrick's Cross was incorporated into the Union Flag and, accordingly, into the cantons of all British ensigns from 1 January 1801.
Plain Blue EnsignEdit
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 the 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 (i.e., without any defacement or modification) is permitted to be worn, instead of the Red Ensign, by three categories of civilian vessel:
- British merchant vessels whose officers and crew include a certain number of retired Royal Navy personnel or Royal Naval Reservists, or are commanded by an officer of the Royal Naval 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.
- Royal Research Ships by warrant[a] whether crewed by former Royal Navy personnel or Merchant Navy personnel.
- British-registered yachts belonging to members of the following yacht clubs:
- Hornet Services Sailing Club
- Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club
- Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Victoria
- Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club
- Royal Cruising Club
- Royal Dorset Yacht Club
- Royal Engineer Yacht Club
- Royal Geelong Yacht Club, Victoria
- Royal Gourock Yacht Club
- Royal Highland Yacht Club
- Royal Marines Sailing Club
- Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, Victoria
- Royal Motor Yacht Club
- Royal Naval Sailing Association
- Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Yacht Club
- Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
- Royal Perth Yacht Club, Western Australia
- Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club
- Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, New Zealand
- Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron
- Royal Scottish Motor Yacht Club
- Royal Solent Yacht Club
- Royal South Australia Yacht Squadron
- Royal Southern Yacht Club
- Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, New South Wales
- Royal Temple Yacht Club
- Royal Thames Yacht Club
- Royal Victorian Motor Yacht Club
- Royal Welsh Yacht Club
- Royal Western Yacht Club of England
- Royal Western Yacht Club of Scotland
- Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania
- Royal Yacht Club of Victoria
- Sussex Motor Yacht Club
Defaced Blue EnsignEdit
Since 1864, the Blue Ensign is defaced with a badge or emblem, to form the ensign of United Kingdom government departments or public bodies. Current defaced Blue Ensigns (besides yacht clubs listed below) are:
Yachting Blue Ensigns defaced by the badge of the club were recorded in the Navy List until 1985, and now they are administered by the Royal Yachting Association for the Ministry of Defence. Current defaced Blue Ensigns are:
Flags of the Crown Dependencies using defaced Blue EnsignsEdit
Flags of British Overseas Territories using defaced Blue EnsignsEdit
- Flag of Anguilla
- Government Ensign of Bermuda (the flag commonly used on land is Bermuda's Red Ensign)
- Flag of the British Virgin Islands
- Flag of the Cayman Islands
- Flag of the Falkland Islands
- Government Ensign of Gibraltar (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 defaced blue ensign was formerly used as:
- Flag of Bengal Presidency
- The flag of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony from 1937 to 1976, then the flag of the Gilbert Islands (1976–1979)
- The jack of the Royal Canadian Navy from its inception until the adoption of the Maple Leaf flag in 1965 The blue ensign was approved by the British Admiralty in 1868 for use by ships owned by the Canadian government.
- The ensign (1879–1928) and the jack (1928–1947) of the Royal Indian Navy (HM Indian Marine: 1879–1892, Royal Indian Marine: 1892–1934, Royal Indian Navy: 1934–1950):
- Flag of the United States of the Ionian Islands (a British amical protectorate, 1815–1864)
- Flag of British Hong Kong (1870–1997) and the ensign of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force
- Flag of Weihaiwei (1903–1930)
- The ensign (1910–1928) of the Union of South Africa:
National flags based on the Blue EnsignEdit
Other flags based on the Blue EnsignEdit
- An individual warrant is issued by the Secretary of State for Defence for each ship
- Naval Staff Directorate. "Naval Flags and Ensigns" (PDF). p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- UK Ministry of Defence. "The Navy Directory 2019" (PDF). p. 30. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
- "RAF Marine Vessel Ensign". Flying Colours Flagmakers. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
- UK Ministry of Defence. "The Navy Directory 2019" (PDF). p. 31. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
- "Flags of the Royal Canadian Navy 1910–1965".
- Flags of the World: British India
- Blue Ensign page on the "Flags of the World" website
- UK, Naval, Government, Yacht clubs on flags.net