Why is the US’s flag colors the exact same as UK’s Union Jack? (Without the, you know, 50 states)
(Scratch that- why do so many flag only have red, blue, and white?)
The United Kingdom and the United States share a colour scheme because the American flag is descended from a British-inspired flag called the Grand Union Flag. The original American flag was created by taking the British crosses out of the top left of this flag and replacing them with a field of thirteen stars.
The British flag features those three colours because it’s a combination of the red and white flag of England, the blue and white flag of Scotland, and the red and white St Patrick’s Cross flag (representing Ireland).
Many red-white-blue flags are connected to these two. Australia and New Zealand fly defaced British Ensigns. The flags of Liberia, Chile, Panama, and Cuba are all directly based on the American flag, either because of a historical connection or because the stars and stripes were seen as a symbol of liberty.
The French tricolour (a combination of the red and blue flag of Paris and the white flag of the French monarchy) was another a symbol of liberty. Its colours inspired the flags of Paraguay, Costa Rica, and Norway. As one of the earliest revolutionary flags, it served as a model for dozens of other tricolours.
The other revolutionary tricolour was the flag of the Netherlands. It was originally orange white and blue, representing Prince William of Orange, but the orange dye used at the time wasn’t stable and would redden with age. Eventually red just became the flag’s official colour.
The Dutch flag may have inspired the Russian flag, or it may have been the coat of arms of Moscow. Either way, Russia ended up with a white-blue-red tricolour which became the basis for the Pan-Slavic colours used on the flags of Serbia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
There’s a lot of history connecting all these flags, and the more the colour scheme was used, the more it came to represent independence and freedom. Thailand, for example, added blue to its red and white flag to match the flags of its World War I allies.
There are a few exceptions. Luxembourg’s flag is based on its coat of arms and Cambodia probably came by its colours independently. But by and large most red-white-blue flags were based — directly or indirectly — on the flags that came before them.