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The Netherlands - Kingdom of the netherlands

Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, Nederland

Last modified: 2001-03-09 by franc van diest
Keywords: netherlands | holland | benelux | europe | tricolour | pennant |
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[National flag of the Netherlands] Antůnio Martins, 22 April 1999

Flag adopted 19 February 1937, coat of arms adopted 10 July 1907.


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Usage of the flag

The Dutch tricolour is the national flag, flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (which includes the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and until its independence in 1975 Suriname), merchant flag, naval ensign and war flag. Until 1931 also used as Naval Jack.

Mark Sensen, 26 February 1998

[Tricolour with orange pennant] Gerard van der Vaart

An orange pennant is hoisted above the national flag on birthdays of members of the Royal House or other occasions in which the Royal House is involved, except when hoisted half mast.

Mark Sensen, 22 February 1998

[Tricolour with school bag] Mark Sensen, 22 February 1998

In May and June you can tell which families have students who have graduated. Outside the house the flag is put out, with the school bag at the top of the staff.

Mark Sensen, 22 February 1998

Short history

The Dutch tricolour was first used in the second half of the 16th century when the Dutch provinces revolted against Spain. Their leader was Prince William of Orange. The flag was named "Prinsenvlag" ("Princeflag") after him. At first the flag was orange-white-blue, but later the orange stripe became red.
The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was established in 1581, but did not include the Southern Netherlands (nowadays Belgium and Luxembourg, which were united with the Netherlands 1815-1830). After the Eighty Years' War independence was recognised by Spain in 1648.

Mark Sensen, 28 February 1996

Most of the time under French occupation (1795-1813) Holland, called the Batavian Republic, had the same flag as during the Dutch Republic (end 16th c. -1795), and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1813-1940 and 1945-now): horizontal red-white-blue. Even Louis Napoleon, King of Holland 1806-1810, maintained this flag, and Dutch history says he did a good job and tried his best.
Only in the early days of French occupation (when Holland was the Batavian Republic, 1795-1806) a horizontal red-white-blue flag existed with a canton showing the "Virgin of Holland", and during incorporation in France (1810-1813) the French tricolore (vertical blue-white-red) predominated.

Gerard van der Vaart, 26 January 1996

During the Second World War the red-white-blue was still the national flag, but its use was restricted by the German occupiers.
(Source: Jos Poels in [vxn] Vexilla Nostra no. 198, may/june 1995.)

Mark Sensen, 27 January 1996

The orange-white-blue "Princeflag"

Oranje-blanje-bleu "Prinsevlag"

[Princeflag] by Mark Sensen, 26 February 1998

In 1572 the orange-white-blue flag was first mentioned when the town of Den Briel was liberated. The red-white-blue flag was first mentioned in 1596. Around 1630 more flags with a red stripe were used, and after 1660 the version with the orange stripe became very rare. It's still unknown why the orange stripe was changed to red, but there are two main theories:

  1. a new method of producing orange paint resulted in a darker shade, almost red.
  2. the House of Orange became less popular.
The colours were however never laid down officially, so in the 1930s the question of red versus orange was raised again, especially by the national socialist NSB party, who used the orange version. On 19 February 1937 Queen Wilhelmina decided by Order in council that: "The colours of the flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands are red, white and blue." In 1958 the colours were defined more precisely as bright vermilion and cobalt blue.

Mark Sensen, 26 February 1998

The prinsvlag formed the basis of the South African flag in use until 1994.

Paul Adams, 21 February 1998

Official adoption of the flag

The flag of the Netherlands was adopted by Order in Council 19 February 1937, no. 93, but there is no official law.
Also the Kingdom of the Netherlands, formed in 1954 with the following member states: the Netherlands (ie. the territory in Europe), Netherlands Antilles, Suriname (until 1975), and Aruba (since 1986), has no official law, although in practice the red-white-blue tricolour is considered the "Koninkrijksvlag" ("Flag of the Kingdom").

Mark Sensen, 8 March 1999


Koninklijk Besluit

19 Februari 1937 nr. 93

Wij Wilhelmina, bij de gratie Gods, Koningin der Nederlanden, Prinses van Oranje-Nassau, enz., enz., enz.

Op de voordracht van Onzen Minister van Staat, Minister van KoloniŽn, Voorzitter van den Raad van Ministers van 5 Februari 1937, No.486, Kabinet M.R.;

Hebben goedgevonden en verstaan: te bepalen:
De kleuren van de vlag van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden zijn rood, wit en blauw.

Onzen Ministers, Hoofden van Departementen van Algemeen Bestuur, zijn belast met de uitvoering van dit besluit, hetwelk in de Staatscourant zal worden geplaatst.

Zell am See, den 19 Februari 1937.

(get.) Wilhelmina

De Minister van Staat, Minister van KoloniŽn, Voorzitter van den Raad van Ministers,
(get.) H.Colijn

Order in Council

19 February 1937 no. 93

We Wilhelmina, by the grace of God, Queen of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, etc., etc., etc.

On the recommendation of Our Minister of State, Minister of Colonies, President of the Council of Ministers of 5 February 1937, No.486, Cabinet M.R.;

Have approved and understand:
to decree:
The colours of the flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands are red, white and blue.

Our Ministers, Heads of Departments of General Administration, are in charge of this resolution, which will be published in the Gazette.

Zell am See, the 17th February 1937.

(signed) Wilhelmina

The Minister of State, Minister of Colonies, President of the Council of Ministers,
(signed) H.Colijn

Note that Zell am See is in Austria, where the queen was on holiday!

Mark Sensen, 11 March 1999

Official flag days

The list I have of when the flag will be flown on official buildings:
19 Jan. H.R.H. Princess Margriet
31 Jan. H.M. the Queen (Beatrix)
27 Apr. H.R.H. Crown Prince Willem Alexander
30 Apr. Queen's Day*); H.R.H. Princess Juliana
4 May Memorial Day (half mast from 6 p.m. till sunset)
5 May Liberation Day
29 June H.R.H. Prince Bernhard
15 Aug. Formal end Second World War
6 Sep. H.R.H. Prince Claus
3rd Tuesday in Sep. Opening of Parliament (in The Hague only)
15 Dec. Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
*) 30 April is known as Koninginnedag ("Queen's day"), the day when the Queen officially celebrates her birthday. In the late 1890s this started, until 1948 on the 31st of August, the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina. Since then it has been on 30 April, the birthday of Queen Juliana. She abdicated in 1980 (on 30 April) and the new queen, Beatrix, decided to leave Queen's Day on this date (except the first year it was on 30 May 1980).

Mark Sensen, 1 May 1997 and 23 August 1999

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