Flag of Northern Ireland


Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It includes 6 of the 10 counties of the historic province of Ulster.

This is what the modern flag of Northern Ireland looks like:

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Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

History of the flag

In the pre-Christian period, the island was inhabited by scattered tribes. In the 5th century St. Patrick spread Christianity. He is the patron saint of the Irish. He is associated with the historic banner that is called the St. Patrick’s flag. It was officially adopted by the Order of St. Patrick in the 80s of the 18th century. The flag is a white rectangular cloth with an oblique red cross. St. Patrick’s cross became part of the national flag of Great Britain, representing Northern Ireland.

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St. Patrick’s flag

From 1541 to 1800 the entire territory of the island was occupied by the Kingdom of Ireland, ruled by the King of England.

In 1800, the British Parliament, supported by the Irish Parliament, issued the Act of Union, which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. From that year the official flag was the Union Jack, which combined the symbols of England, Scotland, and St. Patrick’s Cross, the symbol of Ireland.

The Union Jack is currently in force in Northern Ireland as the official flag.

From 1801 to 1822 the Lord Governor of Ireland had his own standard representing Union Jack with the national Irish emblem in the center – a golden harp with silver strings. The body of the harp is in the form of a figure of a winged woman, similar to those that adorned the bow of a sailing ship.

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Flag of the Lord Viceroy of Ireland

From 1922 to 1973, the governor’s personal standard was the Union Jack with a shield in the shape of the central part of the Ulster banner framed by a green wreath.

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Flag of the British Governor of Northern Ireland 15.08.1924-18.07.1973

In 1924 Great Britain granted the government of Northern Ireland its own flag, called the flag of Ulster, the historic province. A white rectangle with a red St. George’s cross, with a white six-pointed star in the center with a red outline. The six beams symbolized the six counties. In the middle of the star is a palm of red. The top ray of the star was crowned with a royal crown.

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“The Ulster Banner 1924 – 1953

The red hand of Ulster is a heraldic symbol. Its origin is associated with a legend. Several men set up a contest. They got into boats and sailed to the island, agreeing that Ulster would be ruled by whichever hand touched the shore first. Among them was the founder of Ireland’s oldest family, O’Neil. Seeing that he was lagging behind, he cut off his own hand and threw it on the shore. Formally the condition was met, and O’Neil became the first ruler of Ulster.

From 1953-1972 the Ulster banner was in official use. In these years the image of the crown changed in connection with the coronation of Elizabeth II.

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“The Ulster Banner 1953-1972

Since 1973, due to the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Parliament, the Ulster banner has not been officially used.


The flag of Northern Ireland is now officially represented by the national symbol of Great Britain, called the Union Jack.

The ratio of width to length is 1:2.

A blue rectangle with a red oblique cross with a white outline. The width of the diagonal together with the outline relates to the length of the flag as 1:10, and the ratio of the width of the red diagonal stripe to the length of the flag is 1:30.

On top of the oblique cross is a wide straight red cross, which also has a white outline. The width of the red stripes of the cross has a 1:10 ratio to the length of the flag, and the width of the white outline on both sides has a 1:30 ratio to the length of the flag.

The pattern is symmetrical. However, the red diagonal lines are offset in relation to the white outline. On the side closer to the staff, the white outline is wider, over the red diagonals. At the free edge – the white outline is wider under the red diagonals.

Flag colors

Three colors:

  • White;
  • blue corresponds to 280 C according to the Pantone classification;
  • red corresponds to 186 C according to Pantone.

Meaning of colors and symbols of the flag

A straight, wide cross in red symbolizes England and is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of the English people.

The blue background, on which there is an oblique white cross, is the banner of Scotland. It symbolizes the Cross of St. Andrews against a clear sky. According to legend, this cross was seen in the sky in the 9th century by Angus II, the ruler of the Picts and Scots, before the battle with the Angles. It was a harbinger of victory.

The red diagonal cross is the sign of St. Patrick, the patron saint of the Irish.

Other Flags

The Royal Standard is a rectangular cloth divided vertically and horizontally into four equal rectangles. The upper left and lower right are red with three golden (yellow) heraldic leopards (lions in procession), symbols of England. The upper right rectangle is yellow with a double scarlet border decorated with lilies. In its center is a rising scarlet lion, the symbol of Scotland. The lower left rectangle is blue with a gold harp, the symbol of Northern Ireland.

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Royal Standard

Interesting facts about the flag

The police in Northern Ireland are the only body in the United Kingdom that is not allowed to display the Union Jack. On official occasions the Royal Standard or the flag of the service is used.

Although the Ulster banner has lost its official recognition, it is used at sporting events by both national teams and supporters. It is also used by Protestants and Loyalists.

Despite the visual symmetry of the design, raising the flag upside down is a serious offense. One must be guided by the width of the white outline around the red diagonal lines. At the staff, this outline is wider than the top of the red stripes.

General information about Northern Ireland

Official language English, Irish, Ulster-Scots
Capital Belfast
Territory 13,843 km²
Population 1,882,000 people
Currency pound sterling (GBP)
Phone Code +353 48 and +44 28

Map of Northern Ireland

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