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.
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.
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.
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.
They may not have won the civil war, but the FNLA won the best flag war hands down.
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)