Who Can Fly The Red Ensign Flag?
The Red Ensign is a flag that originated as a British naval ensign flown by the Royal Navy and was later adopted specifically by British merchant ships to be flown as their civil ensign. Also known as the 'Red Duster' flag, the Red Ensign is characterised by its red flag with a Union Jack in its' top left corner, symbolising patriotism and strength.
But who can fly the Red Ensign flag? Any vessel registered in the United Kingdom, a Crown Dependency (CD) or an Overseas Territory (OT), is considered to be a British ship and is allowed to fly the British Merchant Shipping flag, 'The Red Ensign.'
Read on to find out more about the Red Ensign flag and its history.
Permission To Fly The Red Ensign Flag
The permission to fly the Red Ensign flag is granted by Her Majesty's Government through the Flag Officers of the Merchant Navy.
Any vessel registered in the United Kingdom, a Crown Dependency (CD) or an Overseas Territory (OT), is considered to be a British ship and is allowed to fly the British Merchant Shipping flag, 'The Red Ensign.'
Applications for permission to fly the Red Ensign must be made through the Flag Officers of HM Ships, who are responsible for issuing flags and signals in support of British merchant shipping. A request for permission to fly a foreign flag must also be submitted to the appropriate Foreign Office authority.
The application process can take up to six months, but there are no restrictions on which vessels may apply.
The History of The Red Ensign Flag
The Red Ensign flag first appeared in the early 17th century as a naval ensign. It was later adopted specifically by British merchant ships to be flown as their civil ensign.
The red duster at the fly side is symbolic of courage and valour, while the Union Jack in the top left corner represents England, Scotland and Wales, and the white stripe at the hoist side represents purity and peace.
Who Can Fly Defaced Red Ensign Flags?
A defacement in vexillology refers to the addition of a symbol or charge to a flag. Government departments or public bodies may fly the Red Ensigns defaced with badges or emblems as the British ensign. Members of certain yacht clubs may also hoist the Red Ensign defaced with their club's badge or emblem as the national ensign.
Red Ensign Flag Etiquette
You now know who can fly the Red Ensign, but it’s also important to know good flag etiquette. On boats, the Red Ensign flag should be hoisted in the most senior position for a flag, which is as close to the stern as possible. You should also never allow your Red Ensign to dangle into the water or to become tattered.
A flag's size isn't set in stone, but according to guidelines, it should be proportional to the vessel. Generally speaking, the Red Ensign should measure at least one inch per foot of yacht length, so for your 60ft mega yacht you’d be looking for a 60” Red Ensign.
Where Can I Buy A Red Ensign Flag?
With Flagmakers, you can choose either a hand sewn or dye sublimated Red Ensign flag. Our recommendation is to choose hand sewn nautical flags for your flag. It’s 155gsm woven flag fabric, is approved by the Ministry of Defence, and is used by the Navy and other military branches for its durability and strength.
Order Your Red Ensign Flag Today From Flagmakers
If you own a British vessel and are looking to fly the Red Ensign with pride then order your Red Ensign flag today, or get in touch with one of our sales experts to discuss your requirements in more detail.