Ajaigarh, until 1948
Nepal’s double pennant is an oddity nowadays, but quite a few of the old Indian princely states had non-rectangular flags. Ajaigarh’s flag had Hanuman on the top pennant and a sun (sometimes inscribed with he Raja’s initials) on the bottom pennant. The flag was also double-sided: The reverse had a flower and a crescent moon on the bottom and nothing on top.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.