Draped in the Dannebrog

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Marie Krarup, a Danish People’s Party MP recently draped herself in the Danish flag for a Facebook cover photo. The practice of “wearing the flag” is normally limited to sports. In official portraits it’s unusual and not something to be recommended.

On the last day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Denmark won the men’s handball competition with a nerve-wracking 28-26 goal victory over France, the reigning Olympic gold medallists and five-times World Champions.

Mikkel Hansen, the Olympic handball tournament’s overall top goal scorer, was thrown a Danish flag from fans in the audience just after the match and wore it around his shoulders while celebrating the win together with his teammates.

Athletes, players and sports fans from all over the world often carry national or club flag with them, occasionally wearing the flags around their shoulders or on their heads. This may not look particularly nice, or adhere to the strictest interpretations of international flag etiquette, but it is common practice nonetheless.

With regards to painting and photography draping yourself in a national flag is not recommendable as it may be deemed disrespectful by some. A flag touching the ground certainly would.

The definition of disrespect differs from country to country or from context to context, but generally speaking a national flag should not be used as a piece of clothing or a piece of furniture (i.e. as a cape or a towel or a table cloth or a carpet or a curtain).

Of course, there is a huge “grey area” between tastefully and tactfully decorating someone or something with a flag on the one hand – and just plain fooling around with the flag on the other. It is fair to give the artist, Per Morten Abrahamsen, some room to play with. But the standard way to do a portrait with a flag is to stand or sit in front of a hoisted or hanging flag.

Ironically though, the Danish People’s Party, Dansk Folkeparti, is known for its staunch defence of Danish independence, the Danish language and Danish traditions. The party has been represented in the Danish parliament, Folketinget, since 1995 and the Danish flag, Dannebrog, has always played an important role in the party’s campaign material and at party events.

It could be argued that a more natural role for Danish People’s Party politicians would be to advocate for traditional Danish flag etiquette and leave it to Olympic gold winners to “wear the flag”.

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