Bulgarian Navy, 1949-1955
The Kingdom of Bulgaria’s naval ensign had a crowned lion in the top left corner. The communists removed the crown of course, and they added a big red star while they were at it. It kind of ended up balancing out the design actually. Before 1946, the canton just kind of hung over the green stripe in a really weird way.
Kuwait (proposed), 1906
So here’s the prequel to yesterday’s post, Before 1914, Kuwait flew the Ottoman flag, even though it was basically a British protectorate starting in 1899. The British pushed on a couple of occasions for the Sheikh to change the flag, or at least adopt a distinct flag for shipping purposes, but he refused. Their first proposal was a plain red flag with “KOWEIT” written on it. The British wanted European sailors to be able to read the flag, but Sheikh Mubarak was worried that his ships would be harassed if they flew a flag with Latin characters in an Ottoman port.
The 1913 Anglo-Ottoman Convention allowed Kuwait to continue flying the Turkish flag, provided that it was distinguished with the word Kuwait (in Arabic this time) up in the corner. But the outbreak of World War I meant the Convention was never ratified and the flag was apparently never adopted. Even after Kuwait was officially separated from the Ottoman Empire, it still flew the crescent and star for a couple of weeks. It took a British gunship accidentally firing on a Kuwaiti vessel for the Sheikh to finally accept the need for a new flag.
If the world was a simple place, I’d be able to say that this was the flag of Kuwait from 1914 to 1961 and leave it at that. But the world isn’t simple, and neither were Kuwait’s old flag laws. There were actually six different versions of this flag, all with very specific uses. The available information about them is spotty, occasionally contradictory, and not always in the best English, but here’s what I can gather.
The text in the centre of the national flag just says “Kuwait”. On special occasions (i.e. weekends, holidays, and official ceremonies) the shahadah was written along the hoist side of the flag. The Seif Palace flew a flag with both the shahadah and a talon symbol representing the House of Sabah (shown on the 1956 arms). That flag was also flown by the Kuwait Security Forces, but only on special occasions. And after 1956 it became the Emir’s standard.
There were also triangular versions of all three flags. The triangular version of the plain national flag was flown by most government buildings (except for border stations and customs houses, which used the rectangular version). But on special occasions those government buildings flew the triangular version of the shahadah flag. That flag was also flown at Naif Palace but only on days that weren’t special occasions. On special occasions they flew a triangular version of the Seif Palace flag, which also happened to be the flag that was flown by the Security Forces on non-special occasions.
Ready to get more complicated? I haven’t even mentioned the naval flags yet. There were four of those, and they were distinguished by a serrated (or possibly wavy) white bar at the hoist of the flag. They could either be rectangular or triangular and they could have a shahadah or not. Their usage varied based on whether it was a state or civil ensign, whether it was a special occasion or not, and whether it was flown on land or by a ship at sea. How exactly it varied I’m not quite sure, and the rules might even have changed in 1950 or 1956. Oh and it looks like at least some ships flew flags without the white bar.
You know what? Screw it. This was the flag of Kuwait from 1914 to 1961.
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.
International Brigades, 1936-1939
The flag of the International Brigades was the red-yellow-purple tricolour of the Second Spanish Republic, with the three-pointed star of the Popular Front in the centre.
They may not have won the civil war, but the FNLA won the best flag war hands down.
February 19 is Flag Day in Turkmenistan. Before adopting their current rug-based design, they used the flag of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic.
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.
Paraguay (naval jack), since 1934
Paraguay is one of those countries whose naval jack looks a lot different than their national flag. The gold star from the coat of arms appears in the centre, minus everything else from the coat of arms.