Flag Etiquette in the United Kingdom

Written by tamiya king | 13/05/2017
Flag Etiquette in the United Kingdom
The UK flag is a proud symbol of the region, and should be handled with care. (united kingdom - union jack image by smn from Fotolia.com)

Whether you're using the flag of the United Kingdom (UK) for a celebration or ceremony that honours all nations, or simply want to display the flag correctly, following flag etiquette is important. These rules and guidelines will keep the flag in the best condition while it is being shown, and will prevent the flag from being disrespected in any way.

Flying the Flag

The flag of the United Kingdom should always be flown right side up. When the flag is facing up, the larger white stripe will be right above the thinner red stripe on the upper side corner of the hoist. Flying the flag upside-down is a sign of distress; if there is no cause for distress and the flag is not flown right side up, this is considered improper etiquette.

Flying Multiple Flags

If the UK flag is flown in the same area as flags of other nations, all flags should be flown on separate flagpoles of the same height. If any flag is flown higher than the others, this gives the indication of superiority, which is inappropriate etiquette. Flying the flag of the United Kingdom above or beneath any flag is a sign of disrespect, and should never be done during times of peace.

Displaying the Flag

It is acceptable etiquette to display the United Kingdom flag both day and night, as long as the flag is illuminated sufficiently at night; using a spotlight to showcase the flag is appropriate. The flag should be flown high on the flagpole at all times as well, so that it does not drag the ground and become tattered.

How to Use the Flag

The UK flag should only be used for display purposes, and should remain on the flagpole during the display. It is not appropriate for the flag to be used as a tablecloth or clothing. The flag is not to be used to wrap items in, or as a seat cover or blanket. Misuse of the flag can be interpreted as disregard for the UK itself, and should be avoided.


Occasionally, the flag of the UK should be flown at half-staff. These include the funerals of a prime minister or ex-prime minister; special instructions will be given from the Queen in these instances. Her Majesty will also given specific directions for how the flag should be flown at half-staff if there is a death in the royal family. At British embassies and High Missions, the UK flag is flown at half-staff if the flags of the host country are being flown in the same fashion.

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