Those who watched the Closing Ceremony of the London Olympics 2012 will have seen the Union Jack produced by Damien Hirst that was installed in the centre of the stadium. The crosses were used as ramps to the centre stage.
It is interesting to discover that the idea is not new, indeed for the 1911 Coronation Celebrations, a human flag was organised in Bristol, as a postcard posted by Paul Townsend on Flickr shows.
The history of the present Union Jack dates back to the 1801 Act of Union, incorporating Ireland, giving the full name United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland to the country.
This torn and tattered relic is not dissimilar to the distressed reproduction the Sex Pistols used in 1976, at the time of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, showing a torn copy of the flag, adorned with the hallmark safety pins of the punk movement.
For more about this topic see a recent article in The Guardian, « Why the union flag is flying again » by Owen Hatherley, written at the time of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.