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The Union Jack, top, represents the United Kingdom and combines the flags from its three traditional kingdoms, including the flag of England and Wales, known as the Cross of St. George, bottom.

The Union Jack, top, represents the United Kingdom and combines the flags from its three traditional kingdoms, including the flag of England and Wales, known as the Cross of St. George, bottom. ()

Union Jackand other flags

Many people come to England thinking they know what the national flag looks like.

It’s a sort of red and white star design on a blue background. But on game days at national football matches, everyone’s waving a white flag with a red cross on it. What gives?

What people often assume is the English flag is actually the official flag of the United Kingdom, called the Union Jack for reasons made muddy by history, according to the monarchy’s official Web site. The Union Jack is a combination of the flags from the three traditional kingdoms of the United Kingdom, which each have their own design.

For the kingdom of England and Wales, it’s that red cross on a white background, known as the Cross of St. George. Scotland has a white X on a blue background for St. Andrew, and the cross of St. Patrick, for Ireland, is a red X on white.

Combine all three, as was first done in 1606, and you’ve got the Union Jack.

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at: uknews@mail.estripes.osd.mil

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