The flag of Scotland is a field of blue with a white diagonal cross extending to the corners of the flags; a saltire. The flag is commonly known as St. Andrew’s Cross or The Saltire.
Officially, the shade of blue is the Pantone 300 colour. Despite the blue of the Union Flag being adopted from the Flag of Scotland, the Union Jack calls for Pantone 280.Historically the blue hue of the Flag of Scotland was mixed using natural dyes which vary depending on a number of environmental factors. Because of this variance older flags may appear as bright as a sky-blue or as deep as navy-blue. The British preferred the navy-blue for the Union Jack as the darker dye was more durable, especially important for long sea voyages.
The flag of Scotland isn’t defined by a width to height ratio, though 3:5 is most common. Additionally, the width of the bars is not defined either, only suggested that they should be 1/3rd to 1/5th of the width of the field.
In 1512 the Great Michael, a carrack, had completed construction. The great ship flew a banner that depicted a field of blue with white saltire cross in the hoist of the flag. The earliest depiction of the flag as we know it today representing Scotland dates back to 1542.
In 1606, following the Union of the Crowns three years earlier, King James VI proclaimed that to unify the two nations of England and Scotland a flag designed by the College of Arms shall be the only flag flown to represent the nation. The College of Arms designed a flag whereby St. George’s Cross was superimposed over St. Andrew’s Cross. The Scottish people saw this as a sleight against their nation. In response to the proclamation many ship-masters and owners responded by redesigning the flag so that the St. Andrew’s Cross was uppermost. The flag was flown as an unofficial variant by sea-going vessels and is evidenced to have flow on land in many drawings and paintings from the era. The Scots would never have their way when it came to the Union Flag, and when the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland unified, St. George’s cross remained in the forefront with St. Andrew’s Cross and the Cross of St. Patrick behind.
In Scotland the Union Flag is generally superseded by the flag of Scotland with few exceptions.
- Any civilian, company, or establishment is free to fly the flag at an time.
- Scottish divisions of the British military may fly a small flag or make use of decals on their vehicles.
- Drivers in Great Britain can choose to display the Saltire on their vehicle registration plates in place of EU country identifier.
- The use of the Saltire as Jack for sea going vessels is permitted, and foreign vessels visiting Scotland may fly the flag of Scotland from their mast as a courtesy flag.
- Finally, many local councils in Scotland fly the saltire on their council buildings.
In 2007 the Angus Council, proud of the design of their new flag which they based off of the council’s existing coat-of-arms, attempted to replace the Flag of Scotland which adorned their council building with the Angus Flag. The move caused such an uproar that the Council settled on hoisting the new flag alongside the flag of Scotland instead of removing it.