Majority of Brits can’t tell if the UK flag is being flown upside down

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
February 02, 2017, 10:42 AM GMT+0

Brits are also much more likely to think correct name for the flag is the Union Jack - but are they right?

A majority (55%) of Britons cannot tell which way is the right way to hang the UK flag, new YouGov research reveals.

When shown two images of the flag – one being flown the upside down (Flag A) and one the correct way (Flag B) – only 45% of people could identify which was being flown incorrectly. A third (33%) chose incorrectly while a further 22% said that they did not know which was upside down.

(For those readers who can’t tell the difference between the two flags, when the flag is being flown correctly the fat white bar in the top corner closest to the flagpole should be along the top edge of the flag, not the flagpole edge.)

Whilst it may seem like a trivial issue to many people, it could become increasingly important for many public sector workers, with YouGov research also showing that a majority of Brits (56%) think that government buildings should be required to fly the flag of the United Kingdom

Despite their inability to tell which way up the flag should go, the majority of people (55%) like the design of the UK’s flag. Only 6% actively dislike it (rising to 11% in Wales and 18% in Scotland), whilst a further 33% neither like nor dislike the flag.

One potential reason for higher levels of dislike for the UK flag in Wales is that no element from the Welsh national flag is incorporated into the UK flag, (unlike the English, Scottish and Northern Irish flags).

There is widespread sympathy to Welsh identity being omitted. A majority of Brits (55%) would, in principle, support the flag being changed to incorporate Wales in some way (rising to 72% in Wales).

The same proportion (55%) of Brits would back removing Scotland from the flag in the event of Scottish independence, although 24% of people would want to keep the flag design as it is.

Union Jack or Union Flag?

Debate has long raged over what the correct name of the United Kingdom’s flag is. Almost half of Britons (49%) believe that the “Union Jack” is the only correct name for the UK’s flag. However, many people believe that the Union Jack can only be referred to as such when being flown from a ship, and that the correct name is in fact the “Union Flag”. About a quarter of Brits believe this option to be the only correct name.

The answer, in fact, is that both names are correct – a fact identified by just 16% of respondents. A publication, Flying Flags in the United Kingdom, produced by Parliament’s Flags & Heraldry Committee in conjunction with the Flag Institute, says that both names are allowed.

Despite the current confusion, the debate on whether the flag can be called the Union Jack seems to have been settled as far back as 1908, with Parliamentary records showing a government minister as having said “the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag”.

Photos: iStockphoto

See the full results here

*The explanation of how to tell which way up the flag should go has been amended. It originally said the fat white bar in the top left corner should not be on the left edge, where in fact both uses of 'left' should instead have read 'flagpole' (to make it clear for people viewing the flag from behind). Thank you to Alex for pointing this out

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