The Prince Who Wanted To Be King Got A King’s Crown On His Flag

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In 2002 the personal flag of Prince Henrik of Denmark was changed: a heraldic crown for a prince was replaced by that for a king. In 2005 his title was upgraded from HRH Prince Henrik to HRH The Prince Consort. But he never got the equal status with his wife that he really wanted.

When Princess Margrethe succeeded her father in 1972 and became HM Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, new royal flags were adopted. The so-called King’s flag had to be changed to fit the new Queen as she had also made changes to the royal coat of arms. For centuries the personal flag of the Danish monarch has had the royal arms in the middle of a splitflag, the swallow-tailed version of the Danish national flag, the Dannebrog.

A “flag for HRH Prince Henrik” was also adopted in 1972. It was similar to the flag of the new Queen, but instead of the royal arms it has the Prince’s coat of arms as a knight of the Royal Danish Order of the Elephant in the centre. Prince Henrik became a knight of this old and prestigious order in 1967 when he married the heir to the Danish throne.

Prince Henrik’s coat of arms as a knight of the Elephant combines the arms of Denmark (three lions and nine waterlily pads in a field of gold) with the arms of the Prince’s own French family, de Laborde de Monpezat (a lion and three stars in a field of red). The shield is supported by two golden lions, and on top of a mantle lined with ermine there was originally a crown appropriate for a royal prince.

This particular heraldic crown for a prince has three visible arches and a pearl on top.

The Danish system of different types of heraldic crowns for kings, princes, counts, barons etc. stems from the 17th Century. It was the version of the Prince Henrik’s coat of arms with a prince’s crown that was used on his personal the flag for 30 years.

“It will be changed,” it was announced in 2002 by Nils G. Bartholdy, Senior Archivist and Heraldic Consultant at the Danish National Archives, “because fundamentally it has been a mistake to use the crown for a prince in Prince Henrik’s coat of arms when displayed outside of Frederiksborg Castle.”

Bartholdy explained in an article in the newspaper Ekstra-Bladet that all members of the royal family correctly use the royal crown (the crown for a king) on all flags, pennants, monograms and elsewhere.

The royal crown, the king’s crown, has five visible arches and an orb and a cross on top.

All of Prince Henrik’s flags and pennants were upgraded accordingly. At the time, the Royal Court refuted any relation between this correction of an old mistake and the Prince’s public dissatisfaction with his status and role in the Royal Family. From 2002 onwards Prince Henrik often expressed that he felt discriminated against: “In Denmark, the wife of a king becomes a queen, but the husband of a queen is only a prince”.

Later the shield with Prince Henrik’s coat of arms as a knight of Order of the Elephant was also changed to feature a king’s crown instead of a prince’s. This shield hangs in the chapel of the Royal Danish Orders at Frederiksborg Castle. However, right now it is part of the decorations at the castrum doloris in the chapel of Christiansborg Palace where Prince Henrik is lying in state until the funeral service on Tuesday 20 February.


This is part 3 in a series about Prince Henrik of Denmark. Read also:
Prince Henrik of Denmark dies at 83
FLAG FAIL: Royal Flags Fly In The Dark Without Proper Lighting


FLAG FAIL: Royal Flags Fly In The Dark Without Proper Lighting

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While the personal flag of Prince Henrik of Denmark covering his coffin was well-lit when the Prince left the royal residence in Copenhagen for the last time, other royal flags were flying at half mast over Amalienborg without proper lighting. On a grey and rainy February day, the decision to fly the royal flags after sunset was a bit of a mistake.

Prince Henrik, husband of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, died at the age of 83 on Tuesday 13 February 2018 at the Palace of Fredensborg. The funeral service will take place on Tuesday 20 February in the chapel of the Palace of Christiansborg.

Thursday 15 February at 10 a.m. the Prince’s body was driven from Fredensborg to Copenhagen. The coffin was draped in the Prince’s personal flag which is a variant of the national flag of Denmark, with swallow tails like other Danish royal and state flags and a white square in the middle of the cross decorated with the Prince’s royal coat of arms.

The hearse was followed by cars carrying the widow of the departed, Queen Margrethe, and their two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, together with their wives and children. In the royal residence of Amalienborg, the coffin was guarded by sailors from the Royal Yacht Dannebrog and soldiers from the Royal Life Guards.

The transfer of the Prince’s remains from Amalienborg to the palace chapel at Christiansborg was scheduled to be on Friday 16 February at 6 p.m. Christiansborg is the political centre of Denmark; the palace houses the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, and the Danish Supreme Court, Højesteret.

Until the funeral the Prince is lying in state in the palace chapel and for three days it will be possible for the public to visit this castrum doloris. Yesterday 5,081 Danes paid their respects to Prince Henrik at Christiansborg and many more are expected to queue up to do likewise today and tomorrow.

Had the transfer from Amalienborg to Christiansborg taken place an hour earlier, the unfortunate break with flag protocol would not have happened. The sun set in Copenhagen at 17:13 on Friday. 50 minutes later, when the Prince’s hearse left Amalienborg accompanied by a cortege of the Royal Family with thousands of onlookers lining the route in the rain, it was already dark.

Earlier Friday the Royal Danish Court had announced that the flag flying at half mast over the residence of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik, was to “be taken down at 6 p.m. and not at sunset, as a farewell to the Prince”.

As a grey and rainy Copenhagen afternoon grew darker and darker in the hour before 6 p.m. live TV transmission from the royal residence documented that the Queen’s flag, the Crown Prince’s flag and the other royal flags at Amalienborg ought to have been taken down at sunset.

If there is no proper lighting of a flagpole, it is not permissible to fly a flag in the dark as it is not possible to distinguish it from other flags, commercial logo banners or any type of textile.

Sometimes it makes good sense to break with protocol. These days Danes show their respect and love for Prince Henrik and his mourning family in many different ways. Henrik was a colourful and sometimes unconventional prince. However, the idea to fly the flag over the royal residence after sunset when there are no means to illuminate the flagpoles at Amalienborg seems misguided. It has never been considered a sign of respect to fly the flag in the dark, not even when mourning the death of a prince.


This is part 2 in a series about Prince Henrik of Denmark. Read also:
Prince Henrik of Denmark dies at 83
The Prince Who Wanted To Be King Got A King’s Crown On His Flag

Prince Henrik of Denmark dies at 83

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These are the flags in the life of the Frenchman who came of age in Vietnam and became a Prince of Denmark when he married the future Queen Margrethe II in 1967. Tuesday 13 February 2018 he passed away at Fredensborg Palace where half of his ashes will be interred in the palace garden. The other half will be spread at sea in Danish waters.

Henri Marie Jean André de Laborde de Monpezat was born i Talence in the south-west of France [1] on 11 June 1934. At the end of his life, after 50 years in Denmark, Prince Henrik described himself as Danish, but he was always also very French. Following his death he is praised in France for his lifelong ambassadorship on behalf of French culture and the French language.

Until the age of 5 he lived with his family in Hanoi in what was then French Indochina and after WWII he returned to Vietnam and graduated there in 1952. His first childhood memories were from Hanoi and of the Vietnamese cuisine. As a young man he studied Vietnamese and Chinese in Paris, Hong Kong and Saigon. In the 1950s Vietnam was torn between the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam [2] and the anti-communist Republic of Vietnam [3].

Prince Henrik also studied law and political science at the University of Sorbonne and after serving in the French Army in Algeria from 1959 till 1962 he became a diplomat. It was during his time as a Secretary at the French Embassy in the UK [4] that he met Princess Margrethe, daughter of King Frederik IX and heir to the Danish throne.

The couple was married in Copenhagen on 10 June 1967. The 32-year-old Henri de Monpezat became Prince Henrik of Denmark [5]. They had two sons, Frederik in 1968 and Joachim in 1969. Prince Henrik’s first visits to the Faroe Islands [6] and Greenland [7] were in the early 1970s. The Danish Royal Family has close and cordial ties with these two autonomous countries within the Kingdom of Denmark.

In 1972 Princess Margrethe became Queen Margrethe when her father died. Prince Henrik was still “just” Prince Henrik. Later in life it became apparent that he had never fully accepted his role as a queen’s husband. In the Danish public, some criticized that he never learned to speak Danish perfectly and felt that he was “too French”, others loved the Prince for his colourful, creative and sometimes unconventional sides.

Prince Henrik travelled extensively on behalf of Danish industrial and commercial interests and he was the patron of a large number of organisations and charities. He played a pivotal role in establishing Europa Nostra, a European federation for cultural and natural heritage, and the Danish branch of WWF, the international nature conservation fund. He took over from his mother-in-law Queen Ingrid in 2001 as the royal patron of the Danish Red Cross [8].

From 1972 he had his own flag, a version of the Danish national flag with swallow-tails and the Prince’s coat of arms in the middle. In the above 1970s photograph Prince Henrik can be seen with another flag, a heraldic banner of his arms [9] quartering the arms of Denmark (three lions in gold) with the arms of the Monpezat family (a lion in red). This banner was also used at the Prince’s vineyard Château de Cayx near Cahors in southern France.

The other two flags in the picture are the British club pennant, a so-called burgee, of the Royal Yacht Squadron [10] and that special Danish yacht flag [11] used only by members of the Royal Danish Yacht Club (Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub). The flag is similar to the Danish naval ensign and has the letters Y.F. for “yacht flag” and three stars, all in gold, in the upper hoist.

Sailor, tennis player, poet, art collector, sculptor, pianist, writer, wine producer, food connaisseur. Prince Henrik was a man of many, many interests and abilities. He was a bon vivant, a man who loved life, it has been rightly said. He was a beloved husband and patriarch of a growing family. All over Denmark flags are lowered to half mast to honour the Prince Consort of Denmark. His funeral service will be on Tuesday 20 February.


This is part 1 in a series about Prince Henrik of Denmark. Read also:
The Prince Who Wanted To Be King Got A King’s Crown On His Flag
FLAG FAIL: Royal Flags Fly In The Dark Without Proper Lighting

2017 in Flag History: The Philadelphia Pride Flag

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This year, a new flag was introduced in the LGBT community. It adds a black and a brown stripe to the iconic 6-color Rainbow Flag to represent people of color. Received by many as a positive new addition in the rich culture of LGBT flags, it also ignited debate. The colors of the rainbow don’t represent any specific groups, but already includes everyone in the community, critics underline.

The new 8-color rainbow flag was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 8 June 2017 as part of the campaign #MoreColorMorePride at a kickoff event at the beginning of the city’s Pride Month. The flag was created with the help of Tierney, a Philadelphia-based advertising and PR agency. Patrick Hardy, Executive Creative Director, explained:

“The rainbow flag is an iconic symbol of the LGBTQ community. In the spirit of Gilbert Baker’s original design, we believe that adding black and brown to this historic flag will fuel a continuing dialogue about diversity in a community that celebrates inclusion, and help to acknowledge the contributions people of color make every day.”

American artist and activist Gilbert Baker, who created the original LGBT Rainbow Flag, also known as the Gay Pride Flag, in 1978, died on 31 March 2017 in New York City, a little over two months before the introduction of the new Philadelphia Pride Flag.

Charley Beal, a friend of Gilbert Baker told NBC: “The stripes were not chosen for skin color. They were chosen to reflect the spectrum of color in nature”. Baker’s Rainbow Flag originally had eight colors which didn’t represent specific groups within the community but rather concepts such as life, healing, nature, magic, art, spirit etc. (The colors turquoise and pink were omitted around 1979.)

Read more about Gilbert Baker’s iconic Rainbow Flag here.

The new Philadelphia Pride Flag became a popular new LGBT flag in 2017 and was seen at Pride events in many cities around the world in June, July and August. However, the flag was also the cause of heated debate within the LGBT movement. Critics warned that the original Rainbow Flag shouldn’t be changed as it is an iconic brand and a powerful symbol of pride and inclusion for everyone in the community.

Amber Hikes, Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs at the Philadelphia City Hall, commented on the criticism in an interview with NBC:

“White people do not know what racism looks like, because that’s the definition of racism. The vast majority of critics are gay white men, a sector of the LGBT community that doesn’t necessarily understand the issues that LGBT people of color might face. There is a presumption among gay white men that the rainbow flag already represents everyone.”

Hikes also said about the Philadelphia Pride Flag: “It’s a push for people to start listening to people of color in our community, start hearing what they’re saying”. A 2017 report from the Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights pointed out that homosexual and transgender people of colour are more likely to experience discrimination in the city, also within the LGBT community itself.

Read more about 2017 in flag history: Mauritania’s New Flag.

2017 in Flag History: Mauritania’s New Flag

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This year, one of world’s 193 UN member states made changes to its national flag: The Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Two red horizontal bands were added to its flag, effective from 15 August 2017. The changes have been criticized because the President of Mauritania failed to include the country’s opposition in the decision and because of low voter turnout in the flag referendum on 5 August 2017.

It was in 2016 that the President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, announced that  a referendum on constitutional changes and changes to the country’s national flag and national anthem would be held before the end of the year.

“Two red stripes will be added to the top and bottom of the national flag to honour the sacrifice of the nation’s martyrs,” it said in the accord from the 2016 political talks ment to end years of political instability in Mauritania. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, twice elected as President of Mauritania, has also lead two military coups against two of his presidential predecessors.

Read my report from 2016 on the announced changes to the Mauritanian flag.

However, the process of changing the constitution and the national symbols was delayed, not least because of opposition from the Senate which was to be abolished. Opposition parties and political opponents of the President rejected the referendum altogether.

In the national referendum on 5 August 2017, 85 % voted in favour of constitutional changes and changes to the national symbols. However, voter turnout was only about 50 %, so the changes can’t be said to have widespread national support.

The changes to the national flag and the national anthem have been criticized as a mere political gesture compared to the much larger issues facing the nation. Many Mauritanians suffer the consequences of unemployment, malnutrition, corruption and the government’s abuse of power. Even slavery remains a problem in parts of the Mauritanian society. Only in 2007 did Mauritania become the last African country to criminalize slavery.

From a vexillological point of view, Mauritania’s new flag is less remarkable and less unique than the old flag. The now defunct national flag of Mauritania, in use from 1959 till 2017, was made up of only two colours: green and yellow. Thus, it was one of only a few national flags in the world which doesn’t contain the three most common flag colours: red, white and blue.

As of August 2017, only Jamaica has a national flag which doesn’t feature either of the colours red, white or blue.

Read more about 2017 in flag history: The Philadelphia Pride Flag.

100 years ago: Finland declares independence

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The white and blue Nordic Cross flag was not yet Finland’s national flag when the country declared its independence on 6 December 1917. The white-blue Finnish flag was adopted by law on 29 May 1918. In the winter of 1917-1918 Finland’s temporary flag was a red heraldic banner with the Finnish coat of arms.   

Top left: National flag of Finland since 1918

A white flag with a blue Nordic Cross has been the Finnish national flag for almost a century. The colour combination white-blue became popular in the 19th Century and were already established as the, albeit inofficial, national colours of Finland at the time of the country’s declaration of independence in December 1917.

However, red and yellow, the colours from Finland’s coat of arms, also played an important role in the Finnish flag debate in the winter of 1917-1918. The Finnish Civil War January–May 1918 between the conservative Whites and the socialist Reds made it impossible to solve the flag issue. Following the White victory, the Finnish Parliament decided on a national flag featuring white and blue rather than red and yellow

Bottom left: Temporary national flag 1917-1918

When Finland declared its independence on 6 December 1917, it was a banner of the coat of arms of Finland that was hoisted on the flagpole of the Finnish government, the Senate.

Finland’s arms stem from around 1580 and feature a yellow lion on a red background surrounded by white roses. The lion treads on a sabre while raising a sword over its head. (Expressed in proper heraldic terms, the blazon of the arms of Finland is as follows: Gules, a lion rampant crowned Or, trampling a sabre in base proper, his dexter foreleg in the form of a man’s arm vambraced and embowed Argent, garnished Or, bearing aloft a sword proper, nine roses Argent.)

A banner of these arms, “the Lion Flag”, was proposed by the Senate’s Flag Commission on 8 December 1917 and it was used as a temporary national flag during the winter of 1917-1918.

Bottom right: Provisional merchant flag in the spring of 1918

The Senate decided to adopt a provisional civil ensign to be used by the merchant navy on 27 February 1918. It was a red flag with a yellow Nordic Cross fimbrated by thin lines of white and blue. This design combined the competing red-yellow and white-blue, but it played no lasting role in Finnish flag history. In May 1918 “the Blue Cross Flag” became the new official national flag for use on land and at sea.

A Nordic Cross flag in the colours of the Finnish coat of arms, red with a yellow cross, is used by the Swedish speaking minority in Finland. This flag is very similar to the flag used by Scanians in Southern Sweden; also a red flag with a yellow cross.

Top right: State flag of Finland 1918-1920

The first official Finnish state flag, adopted on 29 May 1918, had the crowned coat of arms of Finland in the middle of the blue cross. The grand ducal crown was removed on 12 February 1920. Finland was a Grand Duchy in personal union with Russia from 1809 until the abdication of the last Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, in 1917. Officially, Finland has been a republic since the Constitution Act of 1919.


Read also: Finns fly the flag at night to celebrate Finland’s centenary.

Finns fly the flag at night to celebrate Finland’s centenary

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If you illuminate it properly, you’re allowed to fly the Finnish flag from the evening of December 5 and through Independence Day on December 6. Normally, flying the flag in the middle of the night is not allowed in Finland. But an exception to the rule will be made this year as the country celebrates 100 years of independence.    

In Finland, it’s prohibited by law to fly the flag during the dark hours. Being a country in the Northern Hemisphere, the northernmost part of the country lying north of the Arctic Circle, Finland has to live with plenty of dark hours in December.

On December 6, Finland’s Independence Day, the sun rises in the capital city of Helsinki at about 9 am and it sets approximately 6 hours later. In Northern Finland, Rovaniemi (the village known as Santa Claus’ Village) enjoys only three hours of daylight at this time of year.

So, in order for the national flag to play a more prominent role in the festivities marking the 100-year anniversary of Finland’s independence, the Finnish Ministry of the Interior has announced that the Finnish flag, if properly lit, can be hoisted during the dark hours from Tuesday evening at 6 pm until Wednesday evening at 10 pm.

“Flying the flag through the night is only allowed if the flag can be illuminated so that the blue is blue and the white is white,” Mika Mäkinen, Communications Director of the Ministry of the Interior, said in an interview.

“No street lighting or car lights are sufficient,” Mr. Mäkinen made it perfectly clear. “There should be proper lights if the flag is to be flown all night long.”

The ministry has also announced that a large Finnish flag will be hoisted in front of the City Hall in Helsinki’s Market Square (Kauppatori in Finnish, Salutorget in Swedish). It will fly day and night for a year to celebrate the centenary of Finland’s independence and the flag will be illuminated during the dark hours.

“It’s a bit odd that the only flag you see in this central square in Helsinki is the blue and yellow flag on the Swedish Embassy. Now we’ll get a more beautiful flag in that place,” Communications Director Mäkinen explained.

Finland declared its full independence on December 6, 1917. Since 1809 the country had been a Grand Duchy in personal union with Russia. But when Emperor Nicholas II abdicated during the March Revolution of 1917, Finland no longer had a Grand Duke. After the October Revolution later that year, members of the Finnish Government travelled to Saint Petersburg (then Petrograd) to secure the acceptance of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. In January of 1918, Russia as well as other European countries formally recognized Finland’s independence. Finland has been a parliamentary republic since 1919.


Read the original interview and news story in Finnish here and in Swedish here. Read also about Finnish flag history: 100 years ago: Finland declares independence.

Remembrance Sunday: Flags on the Whitehall Cenotaph

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In London today, members of the Royal Family and a wide range of political, military and religious leaders lay wreaths at the Whitehall Cenotaph together with a large parade of veterans. Every year on the sunday closest to 11 November, the Cenotaph is the centre of a nation’s respect and mourning for its fallen men and women in the two World Wars and other military conflicts.

The Cenotaph on Whitehall in London is the official war memorial of the United Kingdom. It stands in the middle of the street between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Health and it has the words THE GLORIOUS DEAD inscribed at both ends.

It was built after WWI for the fallen of the British Empire in this war, but the monument commemorates everyone who has died in the service of the United Kingdom in all wars and military conflicts since then. The different types of service are represented by six flags on the Cenotaph:

On both sides there is a British Union Flag. They represent the fallen of the British Army and civilians who lost their lives in the service of the nation. The official, but non-ceremonial army flag, red with the badge of the British Army, is not used on the Cenotaph.

On the east side the Union Flag is flanked by a British White Ensign and a British Blue Ensign. The White Ensign represents the Royal Navy. The Blue Ensign represents the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and other government services like, for example, the police and the emergency services.

On the west side the Union Flag is flanked by the ensign of the Royal Air Force and the British Red Ensign. The Red Ensign represents the fallen of the merchant navy and the fishing fleet.

The Cenotaph was designed by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. A temporary structure was erected on Whitehall for the celebrations following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in the summer of 1919. The permanent structure which stands today was built from Portland stone and unveiled on 11 November 1920.

Following WWI, cenotaphs were erected in other cities in Britain and around the British Empire, e.g. in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The word cenotaph derives from Greek and means “empty (kenos) tomb (taphos)”.

WWI ended on the Western Front on 11 November 1918 when an armistice was signed between Germany and the Allies in the railroad carriage of Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France in the forest of Compiègne outside Paris. According to the agreement the armistice went into effect at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”.

This date has been marked ever since as Armistice Day, but it is also known as Remembrance Day, Poppy Day or Veterans Day. Remembrance Sunday is held on the second sunday of November in the United Kingdom and in other Commonwealth countries. Here, from the beginning of November until Remembrance Sunday many buy and wear small artificial poppies to honour the sacrifice of the fallen and to support veterans in need of help.

On Remembrance Sunday 2017, Queen Elizabeth II will not lay the first wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of the nation. This duty will be carried out by her son Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. The Queen and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, now 91 and 96 years of age respectively, will watch from the Foreign Office balcony.

Soon every German will have heard of the Jamaican flag

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Jamaika, Jamaika, Jamaika. Not a day goes by in Germany without the name of one Caribbean island nation being mentioned in the news. This is because a new federal government in the colours of that country’s flag is about to be formed by black Christian Democrats, yellow Free Democrats and Greens.

The federal elections in Germany on 24 September 2017 will be remembered for three things: 1. Chancellor Angela Merkel lost. 2. Chancellor Angela Merkel won, and a black-yellow-green government under her leadership will likely be formed. 3. AfD, the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland, is now firmly established in German politics.

Measured in mere votes, Merkel was this election’s biggest looser. Her Christian Democrats lost a fifth of their voters and landed on the worst electoral result since 1949. Measured in options for power, Merkel won the election in the sense that she will also lead the next government. Germany’s chancellor for the past 12 years will get her chance to get to the top of the list of the Federal Republic’s longest serving heads-of-government.

Angela Merkel only has two options however to form a governing majority. Either the conservative sister parties – CSU in Bavaria and CDU in the rest of Germany’s 16 states (party colour: black) – broker a deal with the yellow liberals of the Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) and the green Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, or the “grand coalition” of CDU, CSU and SPD continues.

The latter option was ruled out in no uncertain terms on election night by the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) Martin Schulz who failed in his own bid to become Federal Chancellor. With their worst election result in the history of the Federal Republic, Germany’s second largest party has very little appetite for a renewed “grand coalition” in the shadow of Angela Merkel and the Christian Democrats.

Other two-party majorities are not possible. A red-green government of Social Democrats and Greens ruled Germany from 1998 till 2005 under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD). Since then, both parties have lost ground and last Sunday, 15 October, a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens lost their governing majority in Lower Saxony, Germany’s second largest state.

A black-yellow majority was in power 2009-2013 with CDU, CSU and FDP. The Free Democrats suffered a blow in the 2013 federal elections and weren’t represented in the Bundestag for four years. However, even though the FDP is now back, Christian Democrats and Free Democrats didn’t get the 50 % necessary to form a new black-yellow government.

Also, a number of possible three-party coalitions won’t be able to muster the 50 % of the members of parliament required to form a governing majority. Thus, a so-called “traffic light coalition” of red Social Democrats, yellow Free Democrats and Greens isn’t on the table. A red-red-green coalition of SPD, the Left Party (Die Linke) and the Greens is also not possible.

On the state level, Germany already had a “Jamaica coalition” in Saarland 2009-2012 and as of 2017 there is a black-yellow-green government in the northernmost German state of Schleswig-Holstein, wittingly dubbed “Jamaica in the North”. On the federal level, coalition talks began in Berlin this week and negotiations in coming months will be tough.

As Social Democrats opt for an opposition role, Germany will likely get its first federal government of Christian Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens. That, in modern German political lingo, spells Jamaika.


Read also The Flag Coalitions In German Politics.

A Quick Guide To Catalan Flags

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With the Spanish constitutional crisis over the October 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia, there are Spanish and Catalonian flags in the streets and in the news on a daily basis. Here are six Catalonian flags you need to know.

1. La Senyera is a yellow flag with four red horizontal stripes. This is the official flag of Catalonia. It is used by Catalonians who are in favour of independence and by Catalonians who are against.

In Catalan, the word senyera means banner or ensign, or simply flag. It is a banner of the arms of the Crown of Aragon to which Catalonia belonged. The arms of Aragon are four red vertical stripes in a golden shield (in proper heraldic terms: Or, four pallets Gules). They are part of the modern coat of arms of Spain. As a symbol, these red barras de Aragón are almost a thousand years old. Today they can be found in the flags of countries and regions which have historical ties to the Kings of Aragon and the Counts of Barcelona: Spain, Catalonia, Valencia, Aragon and the Balearic Islands, Andorra, Roussillon and Provence.

2. L’Estelada Blava means “the blue starred” in Catalan. This flag is the primary symbol of Catalonian separatism and, thanks to coverage from international news media of recent events, it has fast become widely known outside Spain.

The so-called Blue Estelada adds a blue triangle with a white five-pointed star to the Senyera. It was designed in 1918, influenced by the flags of Cuba and Puerto Rico. These two countries had fought for independence from Spain and inspired Catalonians who wanted to cut ties with Spain, too. In the 1930s a Catalan Republic was declared twice. After the Spanish Civil War Catalonian identity, the Catalan language and the use of the Estelada flag were subdued for decades.

3. L’Estelada Vermella is “the red starred” flag of Catalonia. Whereas the Blue Estelada is the main separatist symbol and the preferred flag for most centre-right and centre-left republicans, the Red Estelada has been the preferred flag for most Socialist and Communist separatists since the late 1960s.

4. La Bandera de Barcelona is the official flag of Catalonia’s capital city. It’s a banner of the city’s arms combining the red stripes from the Senyera with the Cross of Saint George (in Catalan, Creu de Sant Jordi). He is the patron saint of Barcelona and the white flag with a red cross has played an important role in the history of Catalonia and Barcelona since the Middle Ages.

5. L’Estelada Blaugrana is the “the blue-carmine starred” version of the Estelada flag which is sometimes used by FC Barcelona fans and players. Dark blue together with deep, almost purplish red are the team colours of the world famous football club.

No-one who knows and follows FC Barcelona or have been present at a football match in the club’s home stadium of Camp Nou would say that football has nothing to do with politics. You can always count on Baa fans (in Catalan, Blaugranes) to wave the flag for Catalonian independence. Flags are a constant point of contention between Catalonia’s number one football club and Spanish sports authorities. FC Barcelona fans not only use the blue and red Esteladas, they also have their own Estelada of dark blue and carmine red.

6. L’Estelada Periquita is a newcomer among Catalonia’s separatist flags and it immediately caused trouble. It is used by pro-independence fans of the mostly Spanish unionist football club RCD Espanyol.

The Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol de Barcelona is the city’s second football club. Only four times did Espanyol win the Spanish Copa del Rey tournament; FC Barcelona has won the title 29 times. This local rivalry is not just about football. Traditionally, fans of Espanyol are much less nationalist and separatist than Baa fans. RCD Espanyol is known as Periquitos (the parakeets) or Blanc-i-blaus (the white and blue). So, of course, with the rising number of Catalonians in favour of independence from Spain, there is now also an Estelada flag in the Espanyol team colours.