In my book, America’s Star-Spangled Story, I compared the appearance of the United States flag with the British flag, the Union Jack. If Baltimore’s Fort McHenry had been captured by the British military on September 14, 1814, Maryland attorney Francis Scott Key might have seen a Union Jack by the dawn’s early light instead of the broad stripes and bright stars of the U.S. flag. If he had seen the UJ of the UK, he wouldn’t have penned The Star-Spangled Banner, which is now the U.S. national anthem.
Two hundred years later in 2014, the Union Jack is facing a face lift, potentially losing its white stripes and blue background, at least symbolically, if the people of Scotland vote to withdraw from the United Kingdom of Britain.
The Union Jack combines the crosses of England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, to show centralized royal power. Running across the center is a broad red stripe, which represents the single sovereign reigning over them.
About 4.3 million Scots are expected to vote soon on whether to withdraw from the United Kingdom. Though polls show the vote too close to call—within 2 percentage points—voting for independence would be historic.
Scotland became part of the United Kingdom 307 years ago in 1707, when the Act of Union joined these independent kingdoms into Great Britain. When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 without an heir, the throne of England passed to her cousin’s grandson, James VI, who was king of Scotland. He led Scotland and England as independent states with separate parliamentary and judicial systems until the Act of Union joined their governments.