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Johnny E. Balsved

 

The DannebrogColors of the Dane's

Flying the Flag

The people of Denmark, the Dane's, proudly claim, not only that Denmark is the oldest Kingdom of the World, but also that they fly the oldest flag of the World.

The Danish national symbol, the flag, is red with a white cross. Officially, it is named the Dannebrog.

The Dannebrog is most likely one of the oldest flags in the world.

According to legend, the Dannebrog descended from the skies during a battle in Estonia on June 15, 1219.

This is a part of the Danish national heritage.

Only three other flags in the world carry an official name, i.e. the Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack and the Tricolor'en.

Anyway, the Danes are one of the peoples of this world being able to grow radish in the national colors.

You will be able to read more of the history of the Danish colors on the following pages.

Three flags

Generally speaking, the Danes have three official flags. The Dannebrog as the normal swallow-tailed flag, the square flag and the Naval Ensign, who has a different darker red color.

Dannebrog
(The Swallow-tailed Flag)

Dannebrog
(The square Flag)

Orlogsflaget
(The Naval Ensign)

The swallow-tailed flag is only authorized for use by governmental and public institutions. All others including the merchant nay and private are to use the normal square flag.

Orlogsflaget, the Naval Ensign, is only flying on board ships of the Royal Danish Navy.
 

The main difference between the swallow-tailed "Danne-brog" and the "Orlogsflag" is the color.

To the left are the basic colors replicated, as natural as possible. On top is the normal Danish red (RGB #CE1126) and the color (RGB #992135) used for the Naval Ensign (Orlogsflaget) is shown below.

 

A number of organizations, companies etc. have by royal resolution been a allowed to use one of the flags with the special insignia, normally incorpo-rated in the upper left square of the flag.

The Danish Sovereign Flag

For centuries the flag has been the symbol of the King; the national sign of sovereignty.

Later on, the Danish flag placed on the bastions in front of the Kronborg Castle became a symbol to which foreign ships had to fire a salute, when entering Danish waters.

The Sovereign Flag flying from Holmen in Copenhagen

The Sovereign Flag flying from Holmen in Copenhagen.
(Photo: Johnny Balsved)

The Danish Sovereign Flag has since 1788 been flying on the SIXTUS bastion in Copenhagen.

Banner or Flag

The Banner, or the Standard, was in ancient days the primary way of showing the Colors.

The Banner was the symbol of the King.

Later on, one could see the Flag flying from His Majesty's ships.

The Navy and the Colors

The Navy and the Colors have always been closely related. Main parts of the day to day job of the Navy was to fly the colors, or more exactly demonstrating the sovereignty.

However, the ships of the Royal Danish Navy do not fly the Dannebrog. Instead the Navy flies the Naval Ensign or, in Danish, the Orlogsflaget.

The Orlogsflaget is a swallow tailed flag and has a deeper red color than the Dannebrog.

Despite the increasing sophistication of technology in the Royal Danish Navy, the traditions surrounding "The colors of the Fleet" are still maintained.

The importance of representing the Danish nation and the Sovereign in our maritime organizations is as great as it ever was, and flags provide both the tradition and obvious way of doing this.

Flags have always had an important part to play at sea, to pass messages, to identify another nation's ships or their occupants, to warn of danger, and for many other purposes.

Orlogsflaget hejses...

The Naval Ensign,
Orlogsflaget.

Today's flag provide a very useful means of identification and the traditions surrounding Naval flags remain firmly part of the life of the Royal Danish Navy.

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Sources:

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Fra Flaadens arkiver - Dannebrog fra kongebanner til orlogsflag og fane, by Commander s.g. Th. Bjerre, Vaabenhistorisk Selskab, Copenhagen 1958

&

Om Dannebrog jeg ved..., edited by Jesper Hjermind and Kristian Melgaard, Forlaget Viborg I/S, Viborg, 1995 (ISBN 87-90281-00-4)

&

Rigets Flag paa batteriet Sixtus 1788 - 15.8 . 1988, by H. C. Bjerg, published by the Naval Material Command, Copenhagen, 1988

&

Vort flag, Forlaget Codan, Copenhagen 1943

44You are also referred to the Naval Bibliography

- Do you miss a major event on this Site,
or do you hold a great story?

Are you able to contribute to the unfolding of the Danish Naval History,
please e-mail me, enclosures are welcome.
Please remember to list your sources.

You can also use the Naval Web Forum on this web-site.

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This page was last updated: May 3, 2006

This page was first published: September 16, 2001

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