Friday Quiz

Why the two different background colors of the British flag? One blue. One red. We are flying the blue version today in dock in Barbados. We flew the red version St. Thomas.

This is a difficult question that took us asking several British travelers and a few ship staff to get a real answer.

Good luck.

13 thoughts on “Friday Quiz

  1. My guess – since Cunard is a British line, they fly the blue ensign when visiting ports in Commonwealth nations (like Barbados) and red ensign when visiting “foreign” ports.


      RED ENSign
      is one of the British ensigns, and it is used either plain, or adorned/embellished with a badge or other emblem in the bottom right quarter.

      It is the flag flown by British merchant or passenger ships since 1707. Prior to 1707, an English red ensign and a Scottish red ensign were flown by the English and Scottish Royal navies respectively. The precise date of the first appearance of these earlier red ensigns is not known, but surviving payment receipts indicate that the English navy was paying to have such flags sewn in the 1620s.

      BLUE Ensign
      Prior to the reorganisation of the Royal Navy in 1864, the plain blue ensign had been the ensign of one of three squadrons of the Royal Navy, the Blue Squadron. This changed in 1864, when an order in council provided that the Red Ensign was allocated to merchantmen, the Blue Ensign was to be the flag of ships in public service or commanded by an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve, and the White Ensign was allocated to the Navy.

      Thus, after 1864, the plain blue ensign (i.e., without any defacement or modification) is permitted to be worn, instead of the Red Ensign, by three categories of civilian vessel:[1]

      British merchant vessels whose officers and crew include a certain number of retired Royal Navy personnel or Royal Navy reservists, or are commanded by an officer of the Royal Naval Reserve in possession of a Government warrant. The number and rank of such crew members required has varied over the years, as have the additional conditions required, since the system was first introduced in 1864.
      Royal Research Ships by warrant[a] whether manned by former Royal Navy personnel or Merchant Navy personnel.
      British-registered yachts belonging to members of the following yacht clubs:etc

      God save the Queen

    2. I’m equally confused after reading your comments. A flag and an ensign are not one in the same? I’ll take some time offline later to read the comments more. For now, every minute ticking away is money. Money well spent, but money nonetheless.

      1. An Ensign is a flag, but not all flags are Ensigns. An Ensign is flown at the stern of a ship, indicting a ship’s nationality. A quick internet search indicates that the RMS Queen Mary 2 (QM2) flies the Flag of Great Britain, but is currently registered in Bermuda. Bermuda is a overseas territory of Great Britain. QM2 is out a sea and appears to be headed out to the Dominican Public (Puerto Plata) as I write this.

        If the QM2 flies the flag of BG, she will fly a GB ensign at her stern. My understanding that the Red Ensign (Bloody Red Ensign) is the standard ensign and the Blue Ensign is flown in special circumstances. I think only military uses the White Ensign, which is the third color.

        I believe a Great Britain ship visiting a GB possession (a special circumstance) will fly a Blue ensign. This assumes that the ship has a warrant (permission) from the government) to fly a Blue Ensign. Barbados is a Great Britain possession, hence the Blue Ensign. St. Thomas on the other hand is part of the US Virgin Islands. St. Thomas, as US possession, gets a Red Ensign.

        Now we know that the US leans Right with Trump and the UK generally leans left… or Red and Blue, referencing my original post.

        So this I believe is the reason why the two colors were flown in Barbados and St. Thomas. If I am wrong, so be it. This is my story and I am sticking to it.

    1. And the Brit must be rubbing off on Mrs EOS, as the flag in question, is not really a flag at all. Riddle me that………

      1. By looking at the pictures, we deduce the ‘the flag’ is probably not a bow jack, and its definitely not a burgee, and being that swimming pools are generally located aft, then this ‘flag’ is most definitely an ensign.

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