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Standard of the Heir Prince (Spain)

Standard of H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias / Estandarte de S.A.R. el Príncipe de Asturias

Last modified: 2023-07-03 by eugene ipavec
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[Standard of the Heir Prince (Spain)] 1:1
image by Santiago Dotor
Flag adopted 18th Mar 2001

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On Friday 16th March 2001, the Spanish government approved the design of the new guidon for the Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbón, next King of Spain.

José Carlos Alegría, 17 Mar 2001

Royal Decree 284/2001 of 16th March 2001, published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE, Official State Bulletin) of 17th March 2001, pp. 9936 and 9937, available online at the BOE website, with two TIFF files (first and second pages) containing the full text (and images) of the Decree:

REAL DECRETO 284/2001, de 16 de marzo, por el que se crea el guión y el estandarte de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias, y se modifica el Reglamento de Banderas y Estandartes, Guiones, Insignias y Distintivos, aprobado por Real Decreto 1511/1977, de 21 de enero.
The newspaper article quoted below is wrong in several points. The system of marks of cadency was certainly devised by the Spanish Hapsburgs (Austrias), but actually this happened late during Charles II's reign. Him being the last Hapsburg king of Spain, the system was never used in practice. For example, the standard used by King John Charles I while he was Prince of Spain until 1975 (not Prince of Asturias), was identical to his current standard except for the crown being a prince's one (having four instead of eight arches).

The article also says that this is the first time in Spanish royal heraldry that the field on which the arms are set is not the Bourbons' blue. There are several mistakes in that sentence:

Shockingly, the arms as depicted in the Royal Decree follow neither the official design of the King's Arms nor that of the national arms. Instead it seems that a design very similar in style to that of the arms which appear on the cover of Símbolos de España 2000 has been chosen. This is much more heraldically correct, in my humble opinion.

Santiago Dotor, 19 Mar 2001

The text of the Decree specifies that it shall enter into force the following day to its publication, so the date of adoption of the new flag is 18th March 2001.

Actually even though the 1971 prince's standard was abolished by the 1977 flag law (Decree of 21st January 1977, published BOE 1st June 2001), and even though no reference whatsoever to it as a currently valid flag is made in the recent Decree, I believe that it was readopted as the standard of HRH Prince of Asturias by the Circular del Estado Mayor del Ejército 1/82 (Army Staff Circular Order no. 1/82) of 13th May 1982, which corrected several points in the 1977 law (the 1981 coat of arms, to start with). Pitifully I do not currently have access to the said Circular Order, and I am assuming that because:

Finally, I forgot to mention that the new law makes reference to two flags: the guión (which may be translated as 'guidon' in the medieval sense of 'flag which indicates the king's position') and the estandarte (standard). This is the same approach as used by the 1971 and 1977 laws – actually the text is almost literally copied from it, mutatis mutandis.

In my humble opinion, this is a mistaken and quite confusing approach. The guidon is defined in the first place, as a very specific flag (with fringe, fixed dimensions – 80cm square, coat-of-arms 44cm high, fringe 22mm wide – , a precise material, etc.), only later is the standard defined as any flag which looks like the guidon without the fringe, within a certain range of sizes. I believe that the guidon is rather a specific case of the standard and as such should be defined later.

Also the coat-of-arms is only defined as part of the flag (the same as the fringe, for instance), instead of being defined as something separate, which the prince shall use in many other cases (stationery, seals, tapestries etc.), even though the Decree starts saying that the King has granted arms to the Prince – only to go on speaking about a flag alone.

For the images, I have used the official design of the coat-of-arms in the Decree as a basis, medium colours for all the tinctures and the shade of blue in the flag of Asturias for the field. For the lion's purpure I have tried to approximate the dark, purplish red shade used in Símbolos de España 2000 [cpc00].

Santiago Dotor, 20 Mar 2001

The new standard of the Spanish Heir Prince was used for the first time on board of the Juan Sebastián Elcano, the tall ship of the Spanish navy, when it sailed close to the coast of Gijón (Asturias) on 12th July 2001. Prince Felipe was on board and wanted to get close to the Asturian coast in his first trip to this region since the standard was approved. The ship, on her way from Santander to Marín, sailed into Gijón's bay and hoisted, at that point, the royal standard at the top of the main mast.

José Carlos Alegría, 13 Jul 2001

Royal Decree 284/2001 (Real Decreto 284/2001, de 16 de marzo, Guión y Estandarte del Príncipe de Asturias, published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado no. 66, 17 March 2001) states that the color of the flag of the Prince is the same as that of the flag of Asturias. The color of the flag of Asturias is defined by Law 4/1990 (Ley 4/1990, de 19 de diciembre, published in the Boletín Oficial del Principado de Asturias no. 6, 9 January 1991), both in the CIELAB system:

Color      claridad L   croma C   tono H
azul       50           45        260
amarillo   60           35        85
and in the Pantone system: blue 829 and yellow 109.

José Carlos Alegría, 09 Sep 2002


[Coat-of-Arms of the Heir Prince (Spain)]
image by Santiago Dotor
Coat-of-arms adopted 18th Mar 2001

The arms as depicted in the Royal Decree follow neither the official design of the King's Arms nor that of the national arms. Instead it seems that a design very similar in style to that of the arms which appear on the cover of Símbolos de España 2000 has been chosen. This is much more heraldically correct, in my humble opinion.

The illustration on the cover of Símbolos de España 2000 is by one Carlos Navarro, but now I realise that it is very much based on the design of the greater arms of Spain as they appear on Phillip II's mausoleum at El Escorial Monastery. The lion is almost identical in all three cases. The castle used on the new prince's arms is different from the other two but still is heraldically more correct. It looks like a proper heraldical castle, rather than as a tower with three more thin towers emerging from it – which is how it looks like both in the "official" design of the Spanish arms and in those used by the king.

Also the colour of the lion on Símbolos de España 2000 (and on the colour image in the Asturian newspaper URL, I wonder where they took the colour from) shows a more correct interpretation of purpure (a very dark, somewhat purplish red) than those used in the official Spanish arms (a pinkish violet) or in those used in both the royal standard and the naval jack (red).

Santiago Dotor, 19 Mar 2001

A newspaper article on the Standard

This is a press release from the website of La Nueva España [obsolete link] newspaper dated 17th March 2001. The main point is the color of the flag, the same blue as in the flag of Asturias (Pantone 829):


El Príncipe de Asturias, don Felipe de Borbón, ya tiene guión y estandarte propios. Tal como reclamaban desde hace años heraldistas e instituciones, el Consejo de Ministros aprobó ayer el real decreto por el que se crean las armas propias del Heredero, cuyo fondo, por primera vez en la historia de la heráldica de la Casa Real española, no será el azul de los Borbones, sino el de la bandera del Principado de Asturias.

El real decreto cumple así, en parte, una vieja reivindicación de la región que pedía que en el escudo del Príncipe de Asturias constara algún símbolo del Principado. Al final, la Real Academia de la Historia, que asesoró al Rey en la elección de estas armas propias, no optó por un símbolo (representación de persona o cosa), como podría haber sido la Cruz de la Victoria, sino por un color de fondo para mostrar el vínculo del Heredero con el Principado.

El escudo, a pesar de incorporar esta novedad, responde a una propuesta que sigue la estricta tradición española: identificar las armas del Príncipe y las de su padre. Incorpora un lambel de azur de tres pies, tal como se preveía, desde la época de los Austrias, para diferenciar al heredero del monarca. Las armas no constituyen, de esta forma, un cambio significativo con respecto a lo que hasta ahora existía, salvo por el color de la bandera de Asturias que figurará en el fondo. (...)

Heraldistas como Felio Vilarrubias, ex jefe de protocolo de la Fundación Príncipe de Asturias, consideran este hecho como una gran innovación y destacan que la Real Academia de la Historia llevó muy en silencio sus deliberaciones sobre este tema por los recelos que podría suscitar, pues don Felipe de Borbón también es Príncipe de los principados de Gerona y Viana. Efectivamente, estos principados no aparecen representados ahora de forma directa, pero también es cierto que tanto Gerona como Viana se incluyen en los escudos de los reinos de Aragón y Navarra, respectivamente. La Real Academia de la Historia declinó ayer hacer cualquier tipo de comentario sobre el informe que envió a la Casa Real y se remitió al real decreto, por lo que se ignora si en el estudio académico se valoró la posibilidad de incluir la Cruz de la Victoria como símbolo de Asturias.

Hay que recordar que ésta es una vieja reivindicación del Principado, que solicitó en varias ocasiones que el centro del escudo de España cambiara las tres flores de lis de los Borbones por las llamadas armas de don Pelayo, en reconocimiento histórico al origen de la monarquía española. La propuesta nunca fue aceptada y ahora tampoco ha sido incluida en las primeras armas propias del Príncipe de Asturias, una oportunidad única para cumplir con esta reivindicación.

El fondo color azul de la bandera de Asturias, una bandera de reciente creación, pasa a ser, así, la única pero primera representación del Principado en los escudos de la Casa Real. Fuentes de la Zarzuela afirmaron ayer a LA NUEVA ESPAÑA que hay que suponer que "alguna consideración de satisfacción le habrá producido al Príncipe llevar como fondo el azul de la bandera de Asturias," a diferencia de las armas de su padre, con un azul más oscuro, el de los Borbones.

Con el real decreto se contempla, en lo que a protocolo se refiere, la personalización de la presencia del Príncipe de Asturias en actos castrenses. Hasta ahora, en estos actos a los que asistía el Príncipe de Asturias, que cuenta con honores militares propios desde 1984, se utilizaba el guión de la Casa Real.

José Carlos Alegría, 17 Mar 2001

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