Western Australia Police, since 2005
This is a really cool design made by a local high schooler. It combines the swan from the Western Australian flag with the blue and white checkerboard pattern used by police in Australia. On top of the swan is the police force’s badge, which also features a swan. Swans within swans.
(designer: Anne Cobai)
Crimean Tatars, since 1917
The symbol on this flag is the taraq tamğa of the Giray dynasty, which ruled the Crimean Khanate for its whole three and a half centuries of existence. The flag was reconfirmed by the Crimean Tatar Qurutay in 1991.
Georgia Battalion, 1835-1836
In 1835, Col. James Fannin left Georgia with a few hundred volunteer soldiers to go fight in the Texas Revolution. As they were passing through the town of Knoxville, Georgia, seventeen-year-old Joanna Troutman presented them with this white flag, which according to some accounts was sewn from one of her own dresses.
When Fannin heard news of the Texas Declaration of Independence, he raised the Troutman Flag as a national flag. The flag was destroyed by the wind during the Goliad campaign, shortly before the battalion was destroyed by Mexicans during the Goliad massacre.
(designer: Joanna Troutman)
Martinique, since 1766
The unofficial flag of Martinique is based on the old French merchant flag: a white cross on a blue field. The cross is surrounded by four Martinique lancehead snakes. It’s like some kind of quadruple Don’t Tread On Me.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 1979-1985
In 1985, less than a year after the New Democratic Party defeated the Saint Vincent Labour Party at the polls, the government decided to change the flag. First they removed the thin white stripes, which had been added to the original local design by the College of Arms in London. Then they removed the breadfruit leaf and coat of arms from the yellow stripe, replacing it with three green diamonds in the shape of a V.
In an effort to drum up enthusiasm for the war effort, the British authorities in Burma took the unusual step of approving a new flag without the Union Jack on it. The new flag was just a blue field with the colonial badge in the center, and it was used until the Japanese occupation in 1942. After the war the old colonial ensign was used until independence.
Tallinn, 18th century-1940, since 1988
Tallinn’s symbols are mostly Danish in origin. The greater coat of arms is three blue lions on gold from the Danish coat of arms, the lesser coat of arms is the white cross on red from the Danish flag, and even the city flag is based on the coat of arms of the Danish clan Hvide. The connection there probably comes from Archbishop and Hvide member Anders Sunesen, one of those guys who’s most famous for something they didn’t actually do. In this case, the legends say that after he raised his hands in prayer during the Battle of Lyndanisse (i.e. Tallinn) in 1219, God sent the Danish flag down to earth from Heaven, giving the Danish crusaders victory. Needless to say, this is not a 100% accurate depiction of events.
Portuguese, Spanish, and New Zealand Olympic Teams, 1980
As part of the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, three countries participated under their Olympic Committee’s flag. While Spain and Portugal incorporated elements from their national flags, New Zealand went with the silver fern.
February 19 is Flag Day in Turkmenistan. Before adopting their current rug-based design, they used the flag of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic.
Kosovo, since 2008
Kosovo’s flag has a map of Kosovo on it, which is about the only uncontroversial symbol you could use to represent Kosovo. It very specifically does not have the Albanian red and black colour scheme, instead using the blue and gold of the European Union. You can see very similar design principles at work in Cyprus and Bosnia.
(designer: Muhamer Ibrahimi)
The tricolour on Araucania’s current flag [top] may be unremarkable, but that coat of arms is damn slick. This proposal from around 2006 [bottom] on the other hand just looks kind of sickly.
Portsmouth Yacht Club, 1936-1939
The badge on this obscure ensign has a long pedigree. King Richard I took the emblem from Isaac Komnemnos, the Byzantine governor of Cyprus, when he conquered the island in 1191. On his return to England he granted it to his chancellor William Longchamp and either Longchamp granted it to Portsmouth, or the king granted it to Portsmouth directly, or Portsmouth adopted it on their own. In any case, Portsmouth started using the arms, and since Portsmouth was an important naval port, the Admiralty adopted it as a badge. By the middle of the sixteenth century, the Admiralty had switched to using an anchor (perhaps because the crescent and star was becoming more associated with Islam), but the city kept its arms up to the present day. In 1970 it was granted a sea lion and a “sea unicorn” as supporters, something the city describes as a “rare privilege”. Sure, why not.