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Upside-Down Union Jacks

Julian D. A. Wiseman

Abstract: Many of my countryfolk, or their employees, seem not to notice when a union jack is upside-down. But I do.

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Right and wrong, animated

The diagonal elements of the union jack do not have reflective symmetry, as shown in the animated graphic on the right. When hung correctly, if the flagpole is on the left, the diagonal’s thicker white stripes are clockwise; or, equivalently, the diagonal reds are anti-clockwise. (When there is no flagpole, for example if pinned to a wall, then the flagpole is always deemed to be on the left.)

Below are pictures of Union Jacks that are upside down (or left-to-right inverted). Those sharing via twitter pictures of the same error are invited to use the hashtag #UpsideDownUnionJack.

Monday 22nd July 2013, from the BBC story entitled “Royal baby: Pregnant Kate taken to hospital in labour”.

“Journalists were not the only ones waiting outside the Lindo Wing. Royal supporter Terry Hutt has been camped outside for nearly two weeks”
“Journalists were not the only ones waiting outside the Lindo Wing. Royal supporter Terry Hutt has been camped outside for nearly two weeks”

Saturday 8th September 2012, from the TeamGB Facebook page. Deserved smugness is deserved, but does not excuse this. (Doff hat to DRT for noticing.)

From the TeamGB Facebook page

Sunday 19th August 2012, Tom Daley, an Olympic swimmer, is selling his autobiography, My Story, and a poster, both of which have the same problem.

Tom Daley’s upside-down flag

Friday 17th August 2012. This image was taken from, though also appeared in print—part of various advertisements—in August 2012. There are six coloured Union Jacks, of which the fourth from left, third from right, is upside down. Five out of six, or eight out of nine including the greys, is better than random.


Thursday 16th August 2012, not an upside down union jack, but multiple very wrong union jacks at Austin Reed, Canary Wharf, London E14 4QT.

Let us start with a happy observation: around the window is the edge of a Union Jack. And seemingly correct. Happiness.

Austin Reed, E14 4QT

But also observe near the bottom of the previous picture part of an odd-looking Union Jack. Let’s go closer.

Austin Reed, E14 4QT

Oh dear. Somebody not only didn’t know how to draw the Union Jack, that person didn’t even know that there might be a right way to do it. Oh dear. And it wasn’t a once off, as the view into the female-clothing window shows.

Austin Reed, E14 4QT

Tuesday 14th August 2012, Optical Express, Monument, London EC3M 1BU. Perhaps the printed posters are used across the whole chain.

Optical Express, EC3M 1BU

Monday 13th August 2012, Balls Brothers, The Assembly, London EC3N 4AX. The bunting over the entrance, and that around the nearby pillar, matched, although incorrectly.

Balls Bros, EC3N 4AX

Balls Bros, EC3N 4AX

Monday 13th August 2012, Amathus wine merchant, London EC3V 1LR. Non-matching flag orientations in the window of an excellent wine merchant—the alcohol-recommending skills dwarfing those of vexillology. Which, in a wine merchant, might even be a good thing.

Amathus wine merchant, EC3V 1LR

Thursday 9th August 2012, the Famous Three Kings pub, London W14 9NL: ✓✗ ✓.

famous Three Kings, W14 9NL

Wednesday 8th August 2012, the Three Lords pub, London EC3N 1DD. The point furthest from the wall is always the ‘top’, as if the flag pole had been lowered.

Three Lords, EC3R 8AJ

Wednesday 8th August 2012, Army Classics, London W11 3HG. The big one is correct, as in the one in the neighbouring shop’s window. Which is two out of three.

Army Classics, W11 3HG

Monday 6th August 2012, the stairs down to the Britannia pub, London EC3R 8AJ. Three out of four wouldn’t be so terrible for a pub with a different name.

Britannia, EC3R 8AJ

Monday 6th August 2012, The Hung, Drawn & Quartered pub, London EC3R 5AQ. The two flags on Great Tower Street differ from the one on Byward Street.

The Hung, Drawn & Quartered, EC3R 5AQ

Monday 6th August 2012, two of the windows of Wetherspoon’s The Liberty Bounds pub, London EC3N 4AA. At a minimum, be consistent. Nor should there be prizes for the manufacturer of the bunting.

The Liberty Bounds, EC3N 4AA The Liberty Bounds, EC3N 4AA

Monday 6th August 2012, The Minories pub, London EC3N 1JL. One ✗; two ✓.

The Minories, EC3N 1JL

Monday 6th August 2012, Cards Galore, London EC3R 5AS. The door against which the flag was hung held other items, such that the flag could not be seen from the other side.

The Minories, EC3N 1JL

Early in August 2012, on the A23, just south of Christchurch Road.

On the A23

Early in August 2012, Arlington Discount Centre, London SW2 1RS.


— Julian D. A. Wiseman
7th August 2012, and subsequently

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