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Kingdom of Greece: Decrees on the flags

Last modified: 2004-12-27 by
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Decree of 1833

Decree of 4/16 April 1833 On the Naval and Merchant Flags of the Kingdom

The Naval Flag (l'enseigne) of the Kingdom of Greece shall be as the attached design (unfortunately missing), it shall have five blue and four white horizontal stripes of equal width so arranged that the top and bottom stripes are blue and those in between alternately white and blue. In the upper hoist canton shall appear the emblem of our state, said emblem to occupy one-third of flag length and cover the topmost five stripes.

The pendant (la flamme banderolle) shall be blue, and shall bear a small blue cross in the upper corner.

The Royal Standard for use on Boats (l'étendard) shall be a white equilateral cross on a blue field, and shall bear the blue and white rhomboidal* stripes of Our Ancestral House in its centre.

The merchant flag shall bear nine blue and white horizontal stripes in the same manner as the naval, but is without the emblem of our state. Also, it is forbidden for merchant ships to fly the pendant.

Two items of interest here (aside from the date). Firstly if made strictly according to law (and assuming proportions of 2:3) the canton of the Naval Ensign is not actually square; and secondly, this gives a merchant flag of nine stripes and no canton (which, if used at all, was certainly no longer in use in 1858).

Christopher Southworth, 20 March 2004

*The Bavarian lozenges are usually called "white and blue" and not "blue and white", which makes some difference.

Marcus Schmöger, 23 March 2004


Decree of 1858

Royal Decree of 28 August 1858 On the Naval and Merchant Flags of the Kingdom

Article One.

The insignia by means of which Our Royal Ships may be distinguished from those of Our merchant fleet shall be as follows:
The blue and white rhombs of Our Ancestral House shall occupy the centre of the white cross (of the flag), above the shield shall appear crown and this same shall be topped by an orb and small cross.

The white cross is upright with equal arms, and extends to the outer edges of the blue square on which it is set, (whilst) the crown, orb and cross shall extend to one-half the length of the upper arm, that is, to a height equal to the width of a stripe.

[Naval ensign]by Željko Heimer

(This is the naval ensign reconstructed after the text of the decree.)

Article Two.

The ratio of the flag is defined as being two in width by three in length, and the width of the arms of the cross as being equal to that of the stripes, or one-ninth the width of the flag.

Article Four says that:

This same shall also act as a flag for Our Minister of the Navy.

As apparent confirmation of the above, a Greek flag bearing a crowned shield with the blue and white Bavarian lozenges, is shown in the flag-chart published by R.H. Laurie around the mid-XIXth Century.
Since Otto von Wittelsbach - son of the King of Bavaria - abdicated childless in 1862 to be succeeded by Georges I, a Prince of the House of Oldenburg, on 31 October 1863, we may assume that the Bavarian lozenges were dropped from the flag (and a crown substituted) sometime around these dates.

Christopher Southworth, 20 March 2004

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