Flag Information

Flag terminology and care

The size of British Ensigns, Standards and Union flags are expressed in terms of breadths - a breadth being 23cm (traditionally and approximately 9 inches).

In Union Jacks and White, Blue and Red Ensigns, the length is twice the breadth. In Admiral's Flags and Commodore's Broad Pennants the length is one and a half times the breadth.

For example a 12 breadth White Ensign is 274cm (12 x 23) wide (breadth or width) and 552cm long. A 6 breadth Admiral's Flag is 138cm (6 x 23) wide and 207cm long.

The length of flags used at sea is generally twice the breadth. However, the standard shape on land, and as used by military authorities, is 3:5.


Badge A distinctive emblem that can be added to a flag.
Bicolour A flag divided into two colours.
Breadth The vertical dimension of a flag, or the unit of measuring such, as used by the Royal Navy.
One Breadth is 23cm.
Broad Pennant A short triangular flag with a swallow tail.
Burgee A small triangular or tapered flag, sometimes swallow tailed, usually identifying a yacht club.
Canton One quarter of a flag, usually the upper hoist quarter of the flag.
Colour A military flag, originally used to indicate a regiment's position in a battle, but today reserved for ceremonial occasions. Normally made of silk and heavily embroidered.
Courtesy Flag The naval or civil ensign of the host country flown by the visiting ship, see also Royal Navy Queen's Regulations.
Cross The normal cross is of two equal arms crossing at their centre and extending to the edge of the flag.
Dexter On the right-hand side of a shield to the observer's or spectator's left.
Emblem A symbol, badge or device including a coat of arms.
Ensign The flag flown at the stern of a ship, also used by Government departments and the Royal Air Force.
Field The background colour of a flag or shield.
Fimbriation A narrow band of colour separating two others.
Fly The half of a flag away from the flagstaff.
Guidon A military flag used for mounted troops on ceremonial occasions. Normally made of silk and heavily embroidered.
Halyard The rope or cord onto which the flag is attached.
Heading The part of the flag through which the cord runs. This is normally made of white fabric.
Headstick A plastic fitting sewn in to the top of flags worn on Ensign or Jack staffs, that allows the Inglefield Clip to be repositioned. This permits the head of the flag to touch the truckhead or pulley block.
Hoist The half of the flag nearest the staff; or raise several flags together.
Inglefield Clip Metal quick release either plain or swivel, for attaching a flag to the hoist ropes. Used by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. There are two types: a simple fixed clip and a swivel clip which allows the rope to rotate.
Jack A flag flown at the bows of a ship to show nationality.
Length The horizontal dimension of a flag.
National Flag The flag indicating nationality used by a recognised nation or state.
Naval Ensign A form or type of National flag used by naval vessels, and also used by naval establishments on land.
Obverse The view of the flag which bears the principal design, or view of a flag with the staff on the observer's left.
Pall A heraldic device like a letter Y, e.g. Flag National South Africa or Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of All England.
Pennant A tapering flag at the masthead of a ship in commission, also used to show rank or signalling.
Pendant Former synonym of pennant and pronounced the same way.
Pennon A long flag, often tapering and divided at the end. A small triangular flag borne on a ship or boat.
Reverse The opposite to obverse.
Saltire A diagonal cross, into four compartments, St Andrew's cross and the flag of Scotland.
Sinister Opposite of Dexter.
Slides Small metal clips attached to the heading of a flag that fit into a track on the staff and keep the flag heading close to the staff. The tracks are normally only fitted on Jack and Ensign Staffs.
Staff The pole from which a flag is flown e.g. Jack and Ensign Staff.
Standard A heraldic flag with badges and labels e.g. The Royal Standard and flags for members of the Royal Family, ceremonial flag used by mounted troops and air force squadrons.
Toggle Wooden fastening which passes through the eye of a looped rope, used by the Army.
Tricolour A flag of three different colours, usually in equal areas.
Width The vertical dimension of a flag.

Shades of Naval Bunting


Shades of Naval Bunting and NATO stock numbers

shade ref. no.

NATO stock no.

Colour *

Black 8711A 8305-99-130-4577 -
Azure Blue 8711B 8305-99-130-4578 549 C
inter blue
Intermediate Blue 8711C 8305-99-130-4579 300 C
royal blue
Royal Blue 8711D 8305-99-130-4580 280 C
Navy Blue 8711E 8305-99-130-4581 282 C
Crimson 8711F 8305-99-130-4582 201 C
Green 8711G 8305-99-130-4583 364 C
Red 8711H 8305-99-130-4584 186 C
White 8711J 8305-99-130-4585 -
Yellow 8711K 8305-99-130-4586 Yellow C
deep yellow
Deep Yellow 8711L 8305-99-130-4587 116 C
Orange 8711M 8305-99-130-4588 165 C
tartan green
Tartan Green 8711N 8305-99-130-4589 357 C
red brown
Red Brown 8711P 8305-99-130-4590 477 C
dark green
Dark Green 8711S 8305-99-736-7015 350 C
heraldic blue
Heraldic Blue 8711T 8305-99-736-7016 286 C
Grey 8711V 8305-99-736-7017 409 C


* The Pantone colour references should be compared with an actual Pantone colour chart for production purposes. Allowance should be made for the type of material being used (fabric density, etc.) The final printed item should closely match the sample given in the Pantone chart.