|Correct way up|
It is idiomatic these days for the terms Flag and Jack to be interchangeable without causing too much controversy. It is thought the term Jack came about because the Royal Navy at the time of King George III flew the flag from the jackstaff at the bow of their ships. It was at the same time King George proclaimed the flag could only be flown at sea from Royal vessels or vessels of the Royal Navy. Today the Union Jack is flown from the jackstaff of commissioned HM Ships, and Army and RAF vessels when at anchor or alongside. The Union Jack is only flown from a ship underway when she is dressed for a special occasion. The flag can be flown from the masthead when a sovereign or Admiral of the Fleet is onboard and flown from the yardarm when a Court Marshall is in progress. Otherwise RN ships will fly the White Ensign (below left). No civilian or merchant vessel is permitted to fly the Union Jack in any circumstances. For these vessels there is the Red Ensign (below right). A Blue Ensign is available for certain organisations. Each variant of ensign includes a Union Flag.
|RN White Ensign|
So where is this piece leading? A pedant might say that the law regarding flying the Union Jack from a vessel applies only to those at sea and does not affect inland waterways craft. That may be correct and many boaters fly a Union Jack somewhere on their boat. Does it matter? Probably not although I am not qualified to comment (anyone familiar enough with maritime/waterways law to comment?). However, if you are a boater who flies the Union Jack from your vessel, please do ensure you fly it the right way up!