On the 1st May 1707, the very day when the title GREAT BRITAIN was coined under the reign of HM Queen Anne (last of the Stuart monarchs except for Mary II who usurped her father James II to acquire the throne for herself and partner King William of the Dutch House of Orange), which brought two separate states (England and Scotland) sharing one monarch which had existed for over one hundred years since 1603, into one state under the hitherto shared monarch, the existing navy of Scotland (said to be small and ineffectual) representative of a poor and undeveloped country, and the existing navy of England known to be great and powerful "servicing" England's many and established overseas possessions whereas Scotland had none, were to be as one navy, governed by the first edict of the 1707 Union Treaty which said.........
"That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England shall upon the first day of May next ensuing the date hereof and forever after be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain And that the Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint and the Crosses of St Andrew and St George be conjoined in such manner as Her Majesty shall think fit and used in all Flags Banners Standards and Ensigns both at Sea and Land ".
What Her Majesty (a Stuart monarch, ergo of Scottish ancestry) thought fit, made common sense and pragmatic sense, but the Scots rebelled complaining that the massive red cross on the white ensign was overtly English (put there simply to differentiate a British ship from a French ship both at one time having a plain white ensign) and, of the omnipotence of the emblem in the canton (upper quadrant of the ensign on the hoist) where the St George's Cross trumped the St Andrew's Cross beneath. The Scots were to rush to commit their further grievance to paper, when the so-called* St Patrick's Cross was added in 1801.
The result of that conjoining was to become known as the UNION PENDANT but more simply, whether the Red, White or Blue, the Great Britain (British) Ensign. This is what the white ensign looked like from 1707 until 1801.
As a by and by, the second edict of the 1707 Union Treaty was to enshrine into 1707 Treaty Law, the 1701 English made law, of ACT OF SETTLEMENT, which denied access to the Throne for all except protestants, Scotland having a very large Catholic population and strong Continental European Catholic friends!
Rather confusingly but of course apt in 1707, was the Expression "United Kingdom of Great Britain" used to mean the uniting of Scotland and England (and Wales as a Principality). The United Kingdom of pre-1948, came about on the 1st January 1801 when the Irish joined the 1707 Union. For those not wholly familiar with our customs/systems, the post-1801 United Kingdom is a generic term which meant Great Britain + Ireland. However, in this context, Ireland remained a full member of United Kingdom until the creation of a new country called The Republic of Ireland (Eire) which occurred in 1948. Part of the island of Ireland, 81.25% was ceded to the Republic, the remaining 18.75% stayed British and was renamed Northern Ireland. Since those times (1948), the United Kingdom means Northern Ireland + Great Britain.
“With regard to the first head (sic) - meaning heading - in the petition, the Foreign Office points out that in official correspondence the use of the words complained about is avoided as far as possible, but that it is not practicable to prohibit their use, as the meanings of official documents has to be made plain to the ordinary reader, and the term British is sometime ambiguous.”
The ADMIRALTY states that the use of the term ‘British Fleet’ is incorrect in reference to the Royal Navy, and explains how the Cross of St George came to be put on the flags flown by admirals as a means of distinguishing them from the French flag in the days when it was the plain white Drapeau blanc (Royalist flag of the French Monarchy) and declines to consider the alteration of colours which have been in use by the Royal Navy for more than two centuries. Why then did the Admiralty coin the expression BPF (in early 1945) = British Pacific Fleet ? (for example)
In this famous picture by Wyllie Senior of HMS Victory being tugged from its mid-stream Portsmouth harbour mooring to the dockyards No 1 tidal basin to be made ready (removal of ballast etc) for docking in No 2 dry dock. The event was the 16th December 1921 with the subsequent docking in 1922. Note the flags flying aloft and the white ensign down aft on the ensign staff topped with the Royal Crown. Those flags are the RED ENSIGN on the fore and just below it, signal flag Mike**, and ST GEORGE'S CROSS on the main. We know that Victory wore a white ensign at Trafalgar with an 1801 redesigned canton showing the United Kingdom flag of today. On this occasion the St George's Cross is being flown for a full admiral, namely Admiral Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe, C-in-C Portsmouth in 1921-1923.
* St Patrick was not martyred and had no Cross. St Patrick's red saltire was only devised in 1783, 13 centuries after St Patrick's stated time in Ireland, almost ready-made for inclusion into the 1801 final Union Flag!
** Flag M signifies to other mariners that my ship is stopped and making no headway through the water.
That same white flag as mentioned above, still flies today but only as a third of the French tricolour of Blue White and Red. It would appear that Frenchmen are eager to tell you that the three colours represent the motto of France, which is (B) = Freedom (W) = Equality and (R) = Brotherhood, or, in each case, words having the same meaning e.g., Brotherhood/Fraternity. However, the official French Government website tells us why the colours were used, WHITE being for the Royalty they dispatched with the Guillotine! See below
The Army Council points out that for heraldic reasons the white St Andrew’s Cross cannot be displayed on the Regimental Colours of Scottish regiments with buff or yellow facings, and that its use on Scottish regiments –with blue facings – would unduly differentiate Royal Scottish regiments from all other Royal regiments. The matter was discussed in 1913 and these considerations were accepted as satisfactory and reasonable by the then Lord Lyon King of Arms. The Army Council’s reply to paragraph five that the request on the Colour-pikes on Scottish regiments, is NOT the ‘English’ Royal Crest but is the for the ‘United Kingdom’ as prescribed by the Order-in-Council on November 5 1800, may strike the petitioners as being not particularly impressive as they complained that it was the Royal Crest for England which had been adopted for the United Kingdom and used for the Colour-pikes of Scottish regiments. Now, however, that the Royal Crests for Scotland has been recognised on the coinage, Scotsmen will doubtless continue to hope that it may be given a place on the Colour-pikes of Scottish regiments.
The Home Office reply about various heraldic complaints made by the two societies, points out that Garter was originally Principal King of Arms of the English, apparently to distinguish him from Montjoie, Principal King of Arms of the French: but the words of the ‘English’ were afterwards dropped. The title Principal King of Arms has been used since 1755.
Although Garter has no heraldic jurisdiction in Scotland or Ireland, the Law Officers of the Crown in the three Kingdoms in 1913 held that he has an Imperial jurisdiction in respect of persons not domiciled in the United Kingdom, although this jurisdiction is not to be deemed to oust the authority of the Lord Lyon and Ulster King of Arms respectively to deal with claims to arms registered in Scotland and Ireland.
In the matter of the Scottish Mint the discontinuance of which the societies claim is due not to departmental practice in disregarding The Treaty of Union, but to the Acts of Parliament of 1817 and 1870.
To summaries the foregoing, all reference to the British Fleet (Fleets) should be used only when cognisant of the facts raised and stated in this answer. Throughout, and certainly adherent to World War One in its entirety, the correct entry and assumption should be to refer to the Royal Navy which encompasses all three Kingdoms and the principality of Wales, in equal and conjoined status. As regards World War Two, Ireland should be replaced by Northern Ireland as a Kingdom.
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL FRENCH GOVERNMENT WEBSITE
The contents of the following URL are below but I have included the link just in case you wish to visit the site and to use its interactive bits and pieces.
The main symbols of the Republic share the same revolutionary origins. The national motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", the national day on 14 July, the Marseillaise, the national anthem, the three-coloured flag, the Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of 1789 and Marianne were born symbolically at the time of the French Revolution, representing a break from the Old Regime and its symbols ("fleur de lys", white and gold flag etc.). As for the cockerel, its association with French symbolism comes from the Latin Gallus, which means both cockerel and Gaul.
Marianne and the motto of the Republic
Marianne is the embodiment of the French Republic. Marianne represents the permanent values that found her citizens’ attachment to the Republic: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".
Commemorating the storming of the Bastille on 14th July 1789, Bastille Day takes place on the same date each year. The main event is a grand military parade along the Champs-Élysées, attended by the President of the Republic and other political leaders. It is accompanied by fireworks and dances in towns throughout the whole of France.
The Marseillaise is the patriotic hymn of the French Revolution, officially adopted by France as its national anthem in 1879.
The French Flag
The "tricolour" (three-colour) flag is an emblem of the Fifth Republic. It had its origins in the union, at the time of the French Revolution, of the colours of the King (white) and the City of Paris (blue and red). Today, the "tricolour" flies over all public buildings. It is flown at most official ceremonies, both civil and military.
The Gallic rooster
The Latin word Gallus means both "rooster" and "inhabitant of Gaul". Certain ancient coins bore a rooster, but the animal was not yet used as the emblem of the tribes of Gaul. Gradually the figure of the rooster became the most widely shared representation of the French people.
Secularism and religious freedom
A fundamental value and essential principle of the Republic, secularism is a French invention.