The Red Ensign is a British flag. It consists of a red cloth with the Union Jack in the naval jack. The red of the cloth case has the same color as the red of the Union Jack. It is the merchant flag of the United Kingdom.
It is used by British merchant ships and even individuals at sea.
The flags of several former British colonies trading based on the Red Ensign.
Originally, the Red Ensign dates from the 17th century and carried the Flag of England on the upper mast -gon.
In 1674 declared a proclamation of King Charles II to the Red Ensign flag of the British merchant ships. The wording of the law, however, suggests that the civilian use was already common before that date.
At this time, took Scottish merchant ships a modification of the Red Ensign with the Scottish St. Andrew's Cross instead of the English St. George's Cross.
After the union with Scotland in 1707, the original Union Jack was used instead of the English flag, which was a superposition of the English flag with the Scottish flag. A proclamation of Queen Anne declared the Red Ensign to one of the flags of the Royal Navy and allowed the use by individuals, as a royal privilege.
With the integration of Ireland came on 1 January 1801 the Irish St. Patrick's Cross, a red St. Andrew's cross on a white ground, added.
1854, the Red Ensign was declared the preferred merchant flag.
Until the reform of 1864, the Red Ensign fleet but was still out as one of the three flags of the British Navy. ( Red Squadron ) This year the individual Ensigns were assigned to their present functions.
- White Ensign: Flag of the Navy ( Seekriegsflagge )
- Blue Ensign: Flag other government authorities at sea
- Red Ensign: British merchant flag and flag individuals or companies to sea
Since 1865, state authorities also dependent territories and colonies of the Empire were allowed to make the Blue Ensign with its own coat of arms (badge ) and run as a service flag.
Also individuals from these areas was a result, allowed to lead the Red Ensign, which led to various colonial trade flags, which form the basis of several of today's trading flags. For example, although managed to India from the Union Jack, but still uses the British flag system so that there is an Indian merchant flag, based on the Red Ensign. Australia and New Zealand, in turn, use a directly derived from the original Red Ensign as the merchant flag. The flag of Canada has its national color of this flag.