Flag of the Netherlands

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Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Name Flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Use National flag and ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted Officially adopted on 19 February 1937
Design A horizontal triband of red (bright vermilion), white, and cobalt blue
Naval Jack of the Netherlands.svg
Variant flag of Netherlands
Name The "Prinsengeus", the naval jack of the Netherlands[1]
Use Naval jack
Proportion 2:3
Royal Standard of the Netherlands.svg
Variant flag of Netherlands
Name Royal Standard of the Netherlands
Proportion 1:1
Adopted 27 August 1908
Design A square orange flag, divided in four quarters by a nassau-blue cross with the small coat of arms of the Kingdom, surmounted by a royal crown and surrounded by the insignia of the Grand Cross of the Order of Willem. Each quarter shows a bugle-horn which originates in arms of the Principality of Orange.

The flag of the Netherlands (Dutch: vlag van Nederland) is a horizontal tricolor of red, white, and blue. The tricolor flag is almost identical to that of Luxembourg, except that it is shorter and its red and blue stripes are a darker shade.

It originates as a variant of the older orange-white-blue Prinsenvlag ("Prince's Flag"), introduced in the 17th century as the Statenvlag ("States Flag"), the naval flag of the States-General of the Dutch Republic.

Its official status as the national flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was formalized in 1937.


The national flag of the Netherlands is a tricolor flag. The horizontal fesses are bands of equal size in the colors from top to bottom, red (officially described as a "bright vermilion"), white (silver), and blue ("cobalt blue"). The flag proportions (width:length) are 2:3. The first stadtholder of the Dutch Republic was William I of Orange, who joined with Dutch nationalists and led the struggle for independence from Spain. Partly out of respect for him, the first flag adopted by the Dutch was a horizontal tricolor of orange, white, and blue. It became known as the Prinsenvlag ("Prince's flag") and was based on the livery of William of Orange.[2] The orange dye was particularly unstable and tended to turn red after a while, so in the mid-17th century, red was made the official color. The flag has flown since then, but was confirmed by Royal Decree only in 1937, at the same time the color parameters were exactly defined. As the first revolutionary flag, it has had a seminal influence throughout the world, particularly on the Pan-Slavic colors of Russia. Until about 1800, in the case of both the orange- and the red-striped versions, the number of stripes and their order frequently varied.

Scheme Bright vermilion White Cobalt blue
Chromatic X=17.2 Y=9.0 Z=2.6 N/A X=7.8 Y=6.8 Z=26.7
RGB (174,28,40) (255,255,255) (33,70,139)
Hexadecimal #AE1C28 #FFFFFF #21468B


Cross of Burgundy Flag

At the end of the 15th century, when the majority of the Netherlands provinces were united under the Duke of Burgundy, the Cross of Burgundy Flag of the Duke of Burgundy was used for joint expeditions, which consisted of a red saltire resembling two crossed, roughly-pruned (knotted) branches, on a white field. Under the later House of Habsburg this flag remained in use.

Prince's Flag

Dutch ships ramming Spanish galleys off the English coast, 3 October 1602 (Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom 1617)

In 1572 provinces of the Low Countries rose in revolt against King Philip II of Spain, and William Prince of Orange (1533–1584) placed himself at the head of the rebels.

The colour "orange" is a reference to the name of the House of Orange; but it should be noted that "orange" is not a heraldic tincture, and the name of "Orange" is derived from Aurasio, unrelated to the name of the fruit or the color. The use of orange as a color adjective itself is an innovation of the 16th century.[clarification needed]

Usage of the color orange by William himself is recorded for 1577, when in a reception at Ghent he was dressed as Judas Maccabeus and accompanied by a number of allegories, among these Paix de Gand, represented by a young girl wearing an orange, blue and white belt, and "Faith", "Truth" and "Perseverance" dressed in white, blue and orange, respectively, besides 84 young girls representing the "84 industries of Ghent", dressed in white with orange and blue ornaments.[3] Jacob Duym also reports that in the siege of Leiden in 1574, the Dutch officers wore orange-white-blue brassards. From this, Rey (1837) concludes that the combination of orange-white-blue was certainly used by the Prince of Orange from the 1570s.[4]

The Watergeuzen (Gueux de mer, "Sea Beggars"), the pro-Dutch privateers, flew an orange-white-blue (Dutch: Oranje, Wit, Blauw or Oranje, Blanje, Bleu, from French Orange, Blanc, Bleu). tricolor; the first explicit reference to naval flags in these colors is found in the ordonnances of the Admiralty of Zeeland, dated 1587, i.e. shortly after William's death.[3]

The orange-white-blue flag continued to be flown as well and in later times would serve as the basis for the former South African flag. It is also the basis for the flags of New York City and Albany, New York.

The 400th anniversary of the introduction of the Prince's Flag was commemorated in the Netherlands by the issue of a postage stamp in 1972.[5]


After about 1630, the orange band was often replaced by a red one, as indicated by paintings of that time. The CIA Factbook suggests that this was merely due to the orange dye used tending to fade to red over time.[6]

Alternatively, it has been suggested that there is an older association of the colours red, white and blue with the Low Countries, going back even to the late medieval period. During the 15th century, the three colours were mentioned as the coastal signals for this area, with the 3 bands straight or diagonal, single or doubled.[7] Muller (1862) suggested that the colours were taken from the coat of arms of the Bavarian house, the rulers of the county of Holland during 1354–1433, who used the Bavarian coat of arms quartered with the arms of the counts of Holland.[8]

It appears that prior to 1664, the red-white-blue tricolor was commonly known as the "Flag of Holland" (Hollandsche Vlag); in 1664, the States of Zeeland complained about this, and a resolution of the States-General introduced the name "States Flag" (Statenvlag).[9] According to de Waard (1900), the Dutch navy between 1588 and 1630 always displayed the Prince's Flag, and after 1663 always the States Flag, with both flag variants being in use during the period of 1630–1662.[10]

The red-white-blue triband flag of the Netherlands as used in the 17th century is said to have influenced the Russian flag.[11]

Flag of the Batavian Republic

FIAV historical.svgFlag of the Batavian Republic
Flag and pennants of the Batavian Republic

With the revolution in the Netherlands in the last decade of the 18th century, and the conquest by the French, the name "Prince's Flag" was forbidden. The orange-white-blue was changed into red-white-blue (colours to which the French "liberators" were kindly disposed, analogous as they were to their own tricolour, chosen just a few months earlier) and in 1796 the red division of the flag was embellished with the figure of a Netherlands maiden, with a lion at her feet, in the upper left corner. In one hand she bore a shield with the Roman fasces and in the other a lance crowned with the cap of liberty. This flag had a life as short as that of the Batavian Republic for which it was created. Louis Bonaparte, made king of Holland by his brother the Emperor Napoleon, wished to pursue a purely Dutch policy and to respect national sentiments as much as possible.[citation needed] He removed the maiden of freedom from the flag and restored the old tricolour. His pro-Dutch policies led to conflicts with his brother, however, and the Netherlands were incorporated into the French Empire. In 1810 its flag was replaced by the imperial emblems.

Modern national flag

In 1813, the Netherlands regained its independence and the Prince of Orange returned from exile. In order to demonstrate the attachment of the people to the House of Orange, the orange-white-blue Prince's Flag and the red-white-blue State Flag were flown alongside one another. Which of the two flags should be the national flag was left undecided. This is apparent[original research?] from the fact that it was not only hoisted on public buildings but also chosen by the first King as his personal standard, showing the national coat of arms on the white stripes. From the same period dates the custom, prescribed spontaneously by popular will,[citation needed] to fly an orange pennant together with the national flag as a sign of allegiance of the people to the House of Orange. The pennant is added on King's Day (Dutch: Koningsdag, April 27) or other festive occasions related to the Royal Family.

On February 19, 1937, a Royal Decree issued by Queen Wilhelmina finally laid down the red, white and blue colours as the national flag (heraldic colours of bright vermilion, white and cobalt blue).[12][13]

The flag of Luxembourg, in use since 1830, differs only in the shade of blue and the flag proportion. The similarity of the two flags has given rise to a national debate to change the flag of Luxembourg, initiated by Michel Wolter in 2006.[citation needed]

Display and use

Added orange pennant on Koningsdag

The flag is customarily flown at government buildings and military bases in the Netherlands and abroad all year round. Private use is much rarer. Only on national holidays such as Koningsdag (King's Day) is there widespread private use. At the birthday of specific members of the Royal House, like the King or the Queen, an orange pennant might be added to the flag. There are special non-holiday festivities or remembrance occasions when the flag is flown, such as at the homes of students who have just graduated. The flag is then often accompanied by the graduate's school bag hung from the tip of the flagpole. The flag can also be displayed at times of sadness at half-staff as a sign of respect or national mourning.

The holidays on which flags are put out by the government are:

The public does not show the national flag very often; the holidays on which flags are put out by the public are:

One sees the flag often without the orange pennant, because not many people own one.

Flags of current countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Flag of Aruba

Flag of Aruba

The national flag of Aruba was officially adopted on March 18, 1976. The blue field represents the sky, the sea, peace, hope, Aruba's future and its ties to the past. The two narrow stripes "suggest the movement toward status aparte". One represents "the flow of tourists to sun-drenched Aruba, enriching the island as well as vacationers", the other "industry, all the minerals (gold and phosphates in the past, petroleum in the early 20th century)". In addition to sun, gold, and abundance, the yellow is also said to represent wanglo flowers. The star has particularly complex symbolism. It is vexillologically unusual in having four points, representing the four cardinal directions. These refer in turn to the many countries of origin of the people of Aruba. They also represent the four main languages of Aruba: Papiamento, Spanish, English, and Dutch. The star also represents the island itself: a land of often red soil bordered by white beaches in a blue sea. The red also represents blood shed by Arubans during war, past Indian inhabitants, patriotic love, and Brazil wood. The white also represents purity and honesty.

Flag of Curaçao

Flag of Curaçao

The flag of Curaçao is a blue field with a horizontal yellow stripe slightly below the midline and two white, five-pointed stars in the canton. The blue symbolises the sea and sky (the bottom and top blue sections, respectively) divided by a yellow stroke representing the bright sun which bathes the island. The two stars represent Curaçao and Klein Curaçao, but also 'Love & Happiness'. The five points on each star symbolise the five continents from which Curaçao's people come.

Flag of Sint Maarten

Flag of Sint Maarten

The Flag of Sint Maarten is the national flag of the Dutch part of Saint Martin island, which is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was adopted on 13 June 1985. It resembles the War Flag of the Philippines.

Flags of former countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands

FIAV historical.svgFlag of Suriname until 1975


The pre-independence flag of Suriname consisted of five coloured stars (from top left clockwise: white, black, brown, yellow, and red) connected by an ellipse. The coloured stars represent the major ethnic groups that comprise the Surinamese population: the original Amerindians, the colonizing Europeans, the Africans brought in as slaves to work in plantations and the Indians, Javanese and Chinese who came as indentured workers to replace the Africans who escaped slavery and settled in the hinterland. The ellipse represents the harmonious relationship amongst the groups.

Netherlands Antilles

FIAV historical.svg Flag of the Netherlands Antilles

Within the Flag of the Netherlands Antilles there were five stars that symbolise the five islands that made up the country. While the colours red, white and blue refer to the flag of the Netherlands. A six-star version was used until 1986 when Aruba became its own country within the Kingdom. This original version was adopted on 19 November 1959. This flag fell into disuse when the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved on 10 October 2010. The Islands of St. Maarten and Curaçao obtained their separate country status within the Kingdom and the islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are now overseas entities of the Netherlands.

Flags of former colonies of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

New Holland (Brazil)

The Flag of New Holland, also known as the Flag of Dutch Brazil, was the flag used by the Dutch West India Company for the territories that were under its control in Brazil from 1630 until 1654.

The flag consists of three horizontal stripes in the colours of the flag of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (red, white and blue) and it displays a monogram on the central stripe and a crown on the upper stripe, both gold-coloured. The origin of the monogram as well as its initials and its meaning is not known.

Netherlands East Indies

For the majority of the existence of the Netherlands East Indies the flag of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (English: Dutch East India Company) was used. When the VOC became bankrupt and was formally dissolved in 1800. its possessions and debt were taken over by the government of the Batavian Republic. The VOC's territories became the Netherlands East Indies and were expanded over the course of the 19th century to include the whole of the Indonesian archipelago. As such the flag of the Batavian Republic and Kingdom of the Netherlands were used.

The flag of the Netherlands has been said to be the origin of the Indonesian flag. To symbolize the intention of forcing out the Dutch, the Indonesian nationalists would rip apart the Dutch flag. They tore off the bottom third of the flag, and separated the red and white colours from the blue colour.[14]

Netherlands New Guinea

The Morning Star flag (Indonesian: Bintang Kejora) represented the Netherlands New Guinea from 1 December 1961 until 1 October 1962 when the territory came under administration of the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA). The flag is commonly used by the West Papuan population including OPM supporters to rally self-determination human rights support and is popularly flown on 1 December each year in defiance of Indonesian domestic laws. The flag consists of a red vertical band along the hoist side, with a white five-pointed star in the center. The flag was first raised on 1 December 1961 and used until the United Nations became the territory's administrator on 1 October 1962.

Related flags

Flags influenced by the flag of the Netherlands

The flags underneath are influenced by the Dutch flag in color use and design as a result of a shared history (as flags of former colonies) or economic relations, which is the case for the Russian flag.

  • The flag of the Boer Republics, Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Natalia Republic and the flag of South Africa from 1928 to 1994 are all based on the flag of the Netherlands, or the predecessor Prince's flag. These were in turn part of the inspiration for the present South African flag.
  • The flag of Hesse-Nassau is identical to that of the Netherlands. The Dutch royal house originates from the Duchy of Nassau.
  • The flag of New York City, originally New Amsterdam in the Dutch colony New Netherland, was designed after the Dutch flag.
  • The flag of Albany originally Beverwijck in the Dutch colony New Netherland, was designed after the Dutch flag.
  • The flag of Schenectady County, New York was designed after the Dutch flag.

Pan-Slavic colors

The Russian flag in turn is believed to have influenced many flags of other Slavic countries, resulting in many red-white-blue styled tribands in other parts of Europe. Peter the Great of Russia was building a new Russian Navy mostly on Dutch standards; therefore the Russian merchant flag at sea would be the inverted colours of the Dutch flag.

See also


  1. ^ "Maritieme kalender (April 20, 1931)" (in Dutch). Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  2. ^ The current Flag of New York City and the Flag of Albany, New York also each have an orange stripe to reflect the Dutch contribution to the history of those cities.
  3. ^ a b Jean Rey, Histoire du drapeau, des couleurs et des insignes de la Monarchie française vol. 2, 1837, p. 515.
  4. ^ Jean Rey, Histoire du drapeau, des couleurs et des insignes de la Monarchie française vol. 2, 1837, p. 516.
  5. ^ "Symbolen" (in Dutch). Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  6. ^ The CIA World Factbook 2017, Skyhorse Publishing (2016): "originally the upper band was orange, but because it tended to fade to red over time, the red shade was eventually made the permanent color; the banner is perhaps the oldest tricolor in continuous use."
  7. ^ "Mars et Historia, volume 29, number 2, p. 50 ff" (PDF) (in Dutch). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 8, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  8. ^ D.G. Muller, De oorsprong der Nederlandsche vlag, op nieuw geschiedkundig onderzocht en nagespoord, Amsterdam, 1862, p. 74.
  9. ^ JC de Jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandse zeewesen, deel 1. 's Gravenhage, 1833, p. 75.
  10. ^ C. de Waard, "De Nederlandsche vlag" in: Het Vaderland (1900).
  11. ^ Hulme, Frederick Edward (1897-01-01). The Flags of the World: Their History, Blazonry and Associations. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 9781465543110. Greenway, H. D. S. (2014-08-19). Foreign Correspondent: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster. p. 228. ISBN 9781476761329.
  12. ^ Wilhelmina en De Minister van Staat, Minister van Koloniën, Voorzitter van den Raad van Ministers (19 februari 1937): Koninklijk Besluit nr. 93, Zell am See.
  13. ^ ANP-bericht 24 februari 1937
  14. ^ Indonesian flags at Flags of the World Retrieved on 2011-05-27.

External links

Netherlands at Flags of the World

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