Bermuda is a British overseas territory, or a dependent area under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, so its flag features the Union Jack. The Great Britain’s national flag is placed in the upper left against a red background, a template design known as a red ensign, which is unusual, since most territories use blue.
Centered on the right half of the Bermudian flag is Bermuda’s coat of arms, meaning that the flag features two separate entities with their own meanings. The coat of arms is complex. Contained in its shield shape is a red lion, which represents England. The lion is holding an intricate shield, and on the shield is a ship.
The ship on the flag is the Sea Venture, an English sailing ship that famously wrecked in Bermuda in the 1600s. It was the Virginia Company of London’s flagship, and in 1609 its captain and crew deliberately drove it into reefs off Bermuda to keep it from sinking in a severe storm. Astoundingly, everyone on board the ship — 150 people and one dog — survived, and they settled the Bermudian islands. The wreck of the Sea Venture inspired William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. The coat of arms became part of the flag of Bermuda in the 1900s.
The Union Jack, positioned in the canton of the Bermuda flag, flies in the U. K. as its own flag and has its own history and makeup. It features a red cross at the forefront outlined in white against a deep blue background, and behind the cross is a white X shape with thinner red lines forming the same shape in front of that. If it seems complicated, that’s because it’s a combination of three separate flags. The flag of Scotland is blue with a white saltire, the diagonal cross. It’s known as St. Andrew’s Cross. The flag of England is a red cross against white, St. George’s Cross. The flag of Ireland is a slim red saltire on a white background, St. Patrick’s Cross. The three designs were combined to make one flag in 1606, when Scotland’s James VI inherited the thrones of England and Ireland. Though it originally represented an unofficial union, it is now a blanketing symbol of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and by extension is part of the flags of places like Bermuda.