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There three British ensigns (ensgins are national flags flown on a vessel to indicate citizenry) the White Ensign, Blue Ensign and Red Ensign.

White Ensign

White Ensign The use of the White Ensign is restricted to ships, boats, submarines and on-shore establishments of the Royal Navy.

The Royal Yacht Squadron also fly the white ensign by special dispensation.

Blue Ensign

Blue Ensign The Blue Ensign is flown by ships in public/goverment service, by ships commanded by an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Research Ships by warrant or by British-registered yachts belonging to members of the certain yacht clubs.

Red Ensign

Red Ensign The Red Ensign is the civil ensign or merchant ensign of the United Kingdom.

It is the only legally allowed flag flown by British merchant or passenger ships and has been in use since 1707.