Blue Ensign
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Blue Ensign

Blue Ensign
Government Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
UseState ensign
AdoptedBritish Government
DesignBlue with the Union occupying one quarter of the field and placed in the canton.
RFA Brambleleaf flying the square Blue Jack based on the Blue Ensign

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.

The evolution of the Blue Ensign followed that of the Union Jack. The ensign originated in the 17th century with the St George's cross (the Flag of England) in the canton, and with a blue field.

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 ensign

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:[1]

  1. 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.
  2. Royal Research Ships by warrant[a] whether crewed by former Royal Navy personnel or Merchant Navy personnel.
  3. British-registered yachts belonging to members of the following yacht clubs:[2]

Permission for yachts to wear the blue ensign (and other special yachting ensigns) was suspended during both World War I and World War II.

Defaced blue ensign

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:[3]

Aldeburgh Yacht Club
Army Sailing Association
Bar Yacht Club
City Livery Yacht Club
HMS Conway Cruising Association Ensign.png HMS Conway
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia
Household Division Yacht Club
Little Ship Club
Little Ship Club (Queensland Squadron)
Medway Yacht Club
Old Worcesters Yacht Club
Parkstone Yacht Club
Rochester Cruising Yacht Club
Royal Air Force Yacht Club
Royal Akarana Yacht Club
Blue Ensign defaced with crown.svg Royal Anglesey Yacht Club
Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club
Royal Artillery Yacht Club
Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association
Bm rbyc.gif Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
Royal Bombay Yacht Club
Royal Burnham Yacht Club
Ensign of the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club.svg Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club
Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Ensign.png Royal Corinthian Yacht Club
Ensign of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club.svg Royal Cornwall Yacht Club
Royal Dee Yacht Club
Ensign of the Royal Forth Yacht Club.svg Royal Forth Yacht Club
Royal Fresh Water Bay Yacht Club
Ensign of the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club.svg Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club
Royal Hamilton Yacht Club
Ensign of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club.svg Royal Harwich Yacht Club
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht Club
Royal Jamaica Yacht Club
Royal London Yacht Club
Royal Malta Yacht Club
Royal Mersey Yacht Club
Ensign of the Royal Motor Yacht Club of New South Wales.svg Royal Motor Yacht Club of New South Wales
Royal Nassau Sailing Club
Royal Natal Yacht Club
Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
Royal Northumberland Yacht Club
Royal Ocean Racing Club
Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club
Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club
Blue Ensign defaced with crown.svg Royal Southampton Yacht Club
Royal Suva Yacht Club
Blue Ensign defaced with crown.svg Royal Torbay Yacht Club
Ensign of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club.svg Royal Ulster Yacht Club
Royal Welsh Yacht Club
Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club
Severn Motor Yacht Club
Ensign of the Sussex Yacht Club.svg Sussex Yacht Club
Thames Motor Yacht Club
The Cruising Association
The House of Lords Yacht Club
The Medway Yacht Club
The Poole Harbour Yacht Club
Ensign of the Poole Yacht Club.svg The Poole Yacht Club

Flags of the Crown Dependencies using defaced blue ensigns

Flags of British Overseas Territories using defaced blue ensigns

Current flags:

Former flags:

The defaced blue ensign was formerly used as:

National flags based on the Blue Ensign

These include:

Other flags based on the Blue Ensign

See also


  1. ^ An individual warrant is issued by the Secretary of State for Defence for each ship
  1. ^ Naval Staff Directorate. "Naval Flags and Ensigns" (PDF). p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ UK Ministry of Defence. "The Navy Directory 2019" (PDF). p. 30. Retrieved 2021.
  3. ^ UK Ministry of Defence. "The Navy Directory 2019" (PDF). p. 31. Retrieved 2021.
  4. ^ "Flags of the Royal Canadian Navy 1910-1965".
  5. ^ Flags of the World: British India

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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