Sunday, August 22, 2010

Flag Fever

 As Toni's annual UK visit nears its end, she and Mike reflect on their respective flags.


I'm blogging at Expat Mum about the changes in the UK I see from year to year when visiting. In particular, I've noticed a huge increase in patriotism this year; or to be more specific, Union Jacks adorning everything from t-shirts in Asda to stationery in Debenhams. It really is amazing, and has me reflecting quite deeply.

In the US, although it is against the official Flag Rules (seriously) you can get the old Stars and Stripes flag on anything you want - T-shirts, underwear, china and dog leashes to name but a few. Many Americans also enjoy flying a huge flag on a pole outside their front door, or driving around with car bumper stickers declaring their national pride. While I think a modest amount of national pride is a good thing, this very public love affair often grates a little and I'm pleased to say I haven't come across it  in England so far.

On the other hand, although it's probably a little tacky, I LOVE the Union Jack merchandise all over the place. It's all done in a retro style so the flags look a tad shabby. Perhaps if the red, white and blue colours were loud and shiny, I wouldn't like it so much, but the wall clock in Next is lovely. Not that I would have it in a living room, but perhaps a child's bedroom with a red and blue colour scheme.

I've bought myself a huge flowery Union Jack bag from Accessorize, which I probably wouldn't carry around in England, but have no problem whatsoever in doing so in the US.  Do we become more patriotic when we're no longer domiciled in our country of birth I wonder? I have a few National Trust niceties around my house in Chicago which I probably wouldn't have bought had I lived in England.

And my biggest question is - At what point does this new Union Jack fad become as grating as the Flag flying in the USA? What do resident Brits think?


First, I have to say, as an ex-Boy Scout, a Reagan Republican and simply an American citizen, I find the use of the Stars and Stripes as a casual adornment to be a bit out of order.  Our flag, right or wrong, is more than simple piece of cloth; it is revered in a way others don’t quite understand and sometimes, quite frankly, find a bit frightening.  Flown from a pole, yes, even used as an insignia or a bumper sticker, but it’s not something you should make a pair of boxer short out of. 

But let’s leave that for the time being. 

All things being equal, I think the Union Flag makes a much better adornment than the US flag.  As a design, it has balance, symmetry and a lot more pizzazz.   It’s easily stylized and even a section of it is attractive as a design and immediately recognizable. 

Take a look at these: 

Which makes a better logo?  And which looks like an ad for a barber shop? 

I have noticed the increased use of the Union Flag as art recently and I have to admit I find it attractive. 

Personally, I’d like to see more Brits flying the Union Flag, but if using it to decorate various items manages to wrest it from the grips of the BNP, then I’m all for it. 


  1. I saw a Union Jack on a front license plate when I was at home in the States. It made me raise an eyebrow as I wasn't expecting it in the middle of S. Carolina.

  2. Well..... being English, I prefer the St George Cross rather than the Union Jack.Maybe this is because the UJ has connections with the BNP and football fighters who go abroad and let our country down so badly by causing riots.
    Most of the people I know feel the same.
    I would like to be more patriotic but unfortunately once the World Cup was out of the way (when everyone got used to St George cross flags flying all over the place) flying a flag can be seen as an act of antisocial behaviour or provocation and this is a great pity.
    The American citizens seem to be genuinely proud of their country & I do admire (& envy) that.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  3. I do think the increase in the use of the Union Flag in product designs is more about an increase in 60s retro than any increased sense of patriotism. It would seem to be trading on the likes of the Italian Job, the Who and Carnaby Street. In fact, I've seen a number of products with the Union Flag over here for sale in Target. It may be that their line of Liberty products has sent Target into an Anglophile frenzy.

  4. Rightio mike, I could not agree more. As I said on Expat Mum's blog, the Union Flag IMHO is the best flag design in the world. It's a designers dream really. Very clever too, when you understand how it was designed. We have good ol' James I (VI) to thank for the initial idea behind the flag.

  5. Ha too funny, I ordered that bag from Accessorize just last week!! I agree that when your 'away' you tend to collect these reminders of home more. I love all these flag goodies!

  6. Hmm this is the matter to everyone. I mean I am also caught by the flag fever and I bought my new purse which has flag. BTW I liked the clock very much..


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