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Oslo (Norway)

Last modified: 2005-11-26 by phil nelson
Keywords: oslo | saint hallvard | kristiania |
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Flag of Oslo image by Jan Oskar Engene, 14 May 2002


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Description of the Flag

Oslo started using a new city flag in 2002. The flag shows the city's arms, featuring the Holy Hallvard, against a blue background. The decision to change the flag from the simple blue and white striped flag, used since 1924 (see below), was taken by the municipal council in January 2000. It was then suggested that Oslo would try to have the flag officially approved by Royal resolution, a rather optimistic idea as the flag contravenes every heraldic principle enforced by the National Archives for about 70 years. And indeed, it seems the city authorities never even bothered to apply for approval, preferring instead to go ahead using the flag, and this is what has now happened. Against a threat of fines or prison terms up to three months, a law from 1933 prohibits Norwegian municipalities from flying any other flags than the national flag or those civic flags approved by Royal resolution. This seems to concern no one, least of all the country's capital.

For further discussion of the flag, see [joe00d] and my brief note in the spring 2002 issue of Nordisk Flaggkontakt [nfs].
Jan Oskar Engene, 14 May 2002


Judging from the case of Trondheim, that recently was granted a flag following the Norwegian "communaly heraldry rules" inspite of having ancient and complicated coat of arms – one would expect that similar might be expected for Oslo too. And the striped flag is certainly within the design limitations of the Norwegian heraldic authorities. The ancenity of that design and it's discontinued longlasting use (going back to 1924, which is certainly honourable age for a civic flag in Norway) would only help to the case, wouldn't they?

(I don't remember right now if there is an other presendence beside Trondheim that would help to this case. Horten maybe? Bergen was granted her old flag, but that was back in 1920's, IIRC)
Željko Heimer, 15 May 2002


I think you are right. Chances of official approval for the old flag would have been very good. But somehow municipal authorities got the idea that the striped flag was too similar the flag of Greece. Yes, Greece! So, instead of the Greek company, Oslo has now joined the extended family of American states with seals on a blue background. As if that made for a more distinct flag.

Bergen is, as often, a deviant case. Drammen is a similar case to Oslo, with a simple, yet unapproved, flag unconnected to the arms. The flag of Drammen has a wavy white stripe on a blue field. I cannot think of any other case that would match that of Trondheim.
Jan Oskar Engene, 15 May 2002


Regarding Oslo, the new blue flag with coat-of-arms seems to have been replaced mostly by the triangular version which I have seen only around the Oslo Rådhus (City Hall). rectangular version I have not seen these days. The triangular version seem to be 1:2, with the coat-of-arms near the hoist. The replacement from rectangle to triangle might be a result of the action questioning the legality of the new blue flag.
Željko Heimer, 12 August 2003


About Oslo

Oslo is the capital of Norway.
Jan Oskar Engene, 20 October 1995


Oslo is both a city and a county – administratively it is the same thing, so there is only one flag.
Jan Oskar Engene, 19 November 1995


Former Flag of Oslo

Old flag of Oslo by Jan Oskar Engene

Adopted in 1924, in use until 2002.

Description of the Former Flag

The flag was designed in 1924, for the 300th anniversary of Kristiania (as Oslo was then known). Poportions 8:13. The colours are not explained, but both of them are found in the seal/arms of Oslo, a complicated design featuring Oslo's patron saint St. Hallvard.
Jan Oskar Engene, 20 October 1995


The lexicon Aschehoug og Gyldendals: "Store norske leksikon", 3. utgave. gives adoption date for the four-striped old Oslo flag as 1924. It is indicative that the wording here use word 'adopted' ("vedtat") instead of 'approved' ("godkjent") used throughout the lexicon for all other flags that were given the royal approval.
Željko Heimer, 12 August 2003

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