The Union Jack is a transnational flag full of historical significance. It represents the union of different countries and the growth of a family of nations whose influence extends far beyond the British Isles. This far-reaching influence is still seen today in the incorporation of the Union Jack in other national flags such as that of Australia. The British flag is called the "Union Jack", an expression that needs to be explained.
The Union Jack is a fine expression of unity as well as diversity. The British flag incorporates the national symbols of three distinct countries, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In fact its name "Union Jack" emphasises the very nature of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a union of nations. The flag is also known by another name, this too, emphasising the idea of union: the "Union flag", perhaps a less common term but a little more precise. The countries comprising the British Isles are not inward-looking or isolated states with an insular mentality; together they constitute a powerful union that has spanned centuries. Recent devolution that gave Scotland its own Parliament and Wales its own Assembly has also emphasised the importance of individual national identities within the union without affecting the essential unity of Great Britain. On the contrary, it has strengthened it. Recognition of, and respect for national identities are an essential ingredients for effective union. The Union Jack symbolises all this: respect for individuality within a closely knit community.
The "Union Jack" or "Union Flag" is a composite design made up of three different national symbols. The cross represented in each flag is named after the patron saint of each country: St. George, patron saint of England, St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland and St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.