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Brainiac

If Scotland leaves, what happens to UK’s flag?

What would the Union Jack look like if Scotland votes for independence?
What would the Union Jack look like if Scotland votes for independence?AFP/Getty Images

On Sept. 18, Scotland will hold a national referendum about whether to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country. If independence is approved, it would raise a host of questions — everything from what currency the new country would use to who would qualify for Scottish citizenship — and it could also trigger a redesign of the iconic Union Jack.

An example of what the Union Jack could look like if the referendum passes.
An example of what the Union Jack could look like if the referendum passes.The Flag Institute

English and Scottish colors came together on the British flag 400 years ago, when England and Scotland merged, and the red (English) cross of St. George was combined with the blue and white (Scottish) cross of St. Andrew.

If Scotland splits, however, it might take its colors with it, and a UK organization called the Flag Institute recently solicited ideas for a redesigned British flag. Some proposals called for swapping Scottish colors for the red dragon and green bar of the flag of Wales; others kept the basic idea of the Union Jack while moving the design in a more modern, geometric direction.

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The flag question is fun to think about, but the exercise is likely to be purely academic: An independent Scotland would retain ties to the monarchy (just not the UK state) and, according to a BBC article, most observers predict that, in typical British fashion, the Union Jack will go on as if nothing’s really changed.

Related:

Alex Pearlman: Scotland’s chance to redefine Western governance

H.D.S. Greenway: Independence Day for Scotland?


Kevin Hartnett is a writer in South Carolina. He can be reached at kshartnett18@gmail.com.