Turkish Flag Hoisted Over Dutch Consulate

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It is a centuries old custom, respected all over the world, that flags of foreign nations fly unhindered on embassies and consular offices regardless of any local flag regulations and the state of affairs between the countries in question. That is why this morning’s events at the Golden Horn is something of a diplomatic faux pas.

On the morning of Sunday 12 March, 2017, an incident happened at the Dutch Consulate General in Istanbul. It was reported by international media that, for a while, a Turkish flag replaced the Dutch flag on the consulate’s rooftop flagpole. Apparently, a man had gained access to the roof and was able to lower the red-white-blue flag of the Netherlands and replace it with the flag of Turkey. Shortly afterwords, however, the Dutch tricolour was back in place.

This happened after days of tensions between the governments of Turkey and the Netherlands. Saturday 11 March, 2017, the Dutch government prevented Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the Minister for Family and Social Policies, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, from speaking to AKP supporters in Rotterdam. The Turkish government has expressed its outrage over this decision in harsh terms.

Politicians in the Netherlands and in other European countries openly express discontent with the fact that members of the Turkish government and the AKP (Justice and Development Party) leadership actively seek the support of the millions of Turkish citizens living in Europe ahead of the Turkish referendum on 16 April, 2017. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seeks to change the Turkish constitution and strengthen his power over Turkish politics.

The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul is located in the old Beyoğlu district, just north of the Golden Horn. Pro-Erdoğan protesters have gathered outside the consulate following a night of confrontations between Turkish citizens and Dutch police in the streets of Rotterdam. The Dutch consulate in Istanbul is now being protected by Turkish police.

Heraldic Banners of U.S. Presidents


Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, etc. More than a third of America’s presidents have had their own personal coat of arms. But almost none of them have been displayed in public. This is how they would look in flag form, as banners of arms.

The American Heraldry Society must be commended for having collected and made public all available knowledge on the heraldry of U.S. Presidents and other historic figures in American history. Their research shows that about half of the presidential arms are family arms inherited by a President. The other half are arms created for a President, inspired by his ancestry, his family name or the symbols of office.

Except for the arms of the 1st President of the United States, presidential arms are virtually unknown. In only two cases, banners of these arms have been used in public. The illustration shows how heraldic banners of six U.S. Presidents would look together.

Top row, from left to right:

George Washington (1789-1797) proudly and consistently used his family arms. Without doubt, the Washington arms are the best known of any U.S. president. In 1938, his arms were used to create the flag of Washington, D.C. Therefore, the capital’s flag with the proportions 1:2 is a variant of the heraldic banner in the illustration above.

Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), the 3rd President of the United States, scorned the snobbery of people who used coats of arms. But at the same time he was a gentleman of his time and made use of his family arms in his personal seal and on silverware, not least while being the American minister to France in the 1780s.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), 32nd President, was a fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President. The Roosevelt arms spell out the family’s name in Dutch (literally, rose field): “upon a grassy mound a rose bush proper bearing three roses”. These arms were used by Teddy Roosevelt; FDR used a modified version with three cut roses criss-crossing each other.

Bottom row, from left to right:

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) was not only the 34th President of the United States, he was also a highly decorated WWII general. In 1945, King Christian X of Denmark conferred on him the Order of the Elephant. However, Eisenhower didn’t show a great deal of interest and it took more than a decade for him to live up to what is required of a Knight of the Elephant: to provide the Chapter of the Royal Danish Orders with a drawing of his personal coat of arms. In the end, he had help from Denmark. The anvil plays on the German roots of the family name Eisenhower/Eisenhauer (literally, iron miner).

John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) was of Irish descent. On Saint Patrick’s Day 1961, the President and his family were presented with arms granted by the Chief Herald of Ireland at the behest of the Irish government. After the President’s assassination, his brother Robert F. Kennedy led an expedition to the summit of Mount Kennedy in Canada, named in honor of the 35th U.S. President. Here, he planted a heraldic banner with the Kennedy arms.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) accepted a grant of arms from the now defunct American College of Heraldry and Arms in 1968. However, according to the research of the American Heraldry Society, the 36th President never made use of his arms. Since LBJ, only three U.S. Presidents are known to have used arms: Reagan, Clinton and Trump.


Read more about presidential coats of arms in the USA on the website of the American Heraldry Society: https://www.americanheraldry.org/heraldry-in-the-usa/arms-of-famous-americans/presidents-of-the-united-states.

Flag In Parliament? Almost All Of Denmark’s Neighbours Do It


The Danish flag will be displayed permanently in the Danish parliament from 2017. Controversial as this may be in Denmark, use of the national flag inside a national parliament is perfectly normal in almost all of Denmark’s neighbouring countries.

It has been announced that the flag of Denmark, the Dannebrog, will be displayed permanently in the meeting hall of the Danish Parliament, the Folketing. This change will take effect at the official opening of the next legislative session, on the first Tuesday of October 2017.

At the opening of the present legislative session in October 2016 a large, swallow-tailed Danish splitflag hung vertically behind the Speaker’s chair. This was a temporary measure because of repairs to the tapestry usually hanging in that place. The decision caused lots of debate in parliament and on social media. The announcement from the Folketing yesterday has reignited the debate.

Danes would be hard pressed to explain to foreigners why the use of the Dannebrog in the Danish parliament is such a contentious subject. Especially, since almost all of the countries that Denmark likes to compare itself to display their national flags inside their national parliaments.

Some of the debate, it seems, centres around the fact that permanent use of the flag in the Folketing has been championed by the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti). Its former leader, Pia Kjærsgaard, is the present Speaker, or President, of the Danish parliament. Being highly skeptical of the European Union and of immigration, the Danish People’s Party see itself as a defender of Danish sovereignty, language etc.

In the future, the Dannebrog will not be hanging vertically behind the Speaker’s chair. Rather, it will be hoisted on a flagpole positioned near the Speaker’s chair. Deputy Speaker Christian Juhl of the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), who was very critical last October, has said that he can live with this decision.

It is worth noting that by flying the flag in the legislative assembly, Denmark would do exactly the same as Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The flag of Greenland, Erfalasorput, can be seen in the Greenlandic parliament, Inatsisartut, and the flag of the Faroe Islands, Merkið, in the Faroese parliament, Løgtingið.

A flagpole with the national flag is placed near the Speaker’s chair in the parliaments of Iceland, Germany and Latvia. In the Estonian parliament, a table flag is standing at the Speaker’s left hand. In the Polish Sejm and the Lithuanian Seimas, a large national flag is displayed vertically behind the Speaker’s chair. In the parliament of Åland, there are no less than four Ålandic flags.

Also in the plenary hall of Sweden’s Riksdag, their is a Swedish flag. For six months in 2009, during the Swedish presidency of the European Union, there was an EU flag, too. In the German Bundestag and in many other parliaments of EU countries, the EU flag is displayed permanently next to the national flag. That is not likely to happen in Denmark’s Folketing, especially not with Ms Kjærsgaard in the Speaker’s chair.


Read also: Parliament Opens Amid Flag Debate

The Flag Coalitions In German Politics


If you want to understand German politics and all the possible party coalitions people talk about, you need to know a little about flags, too. Some of the combinations of parties which could potentially join to form a government are named for flags with the same colours as the parties in question. 

2017 is Super Election Year in Germany. Today, it started off with the election of a new Federal President. There will be three state parliamentary elections this spring and, on September 24, a new Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, will be elected.

However, it has become increasingly less easy to predict which parties will be in government in the future. Those days are long gone when the Christian Democrats (CDU and CSU) or the Social Democrats (SPD) could be sure to govern alone, or with the help of just one of the smaller parties.

At the moment, Germany and three of its states (Länder) are governed by a “grand coalition” – a coalition where the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have had to join forces to form a majority. Chancellor Angela Merkel of the CDU and her Social Democratic counterparts will be sure to look for other options this year.

A coalition of Christian Democrats (party colour: black), the Greens (party colour: green) and the liberal Free Democrats (party colour: yellow) will probably be possible. Such a coalition is usually referred to as a “Jamaica coalition” as the Jamaican flag is black, green and yellow.

Another combination of one larger party and two smaller ones is the red-yellow-green. This kind of coalition is usually referred to as a “traffic light coalition” (Ampelkoalition), but has also been called a “Senegal coalition”. At the moment red-yellow-green governs in the the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

In the case that a parliamentary majority can’t be built even when  Christian Democrats and Social Democrats come together there is talk of a “Germany coalition” (black-red-yellow) or a “Kenya coalition” (black-red-green) where one of the smaller parties takes part in the governing coalition, the Free Democrats or the Greens respectively. Presently, the state of Saxony-Anhalt has a black-red-yellow government.

Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein has been governed by a coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and the SSW since 2012. The South Schleswig Voters’ Association (SSW) is an alliance representing the interests of the Danish and the Frisian minorities. Its party colours are those of the arms of the historical duchy of Schleswig: yellow and blue. Because of the SSW blue, some have named the Schleswig-Holstein government the “Gambia coalition” as the Gambian flag has on it the colours red, green and blue.

A new Schleswig-Holstein state parliament will be elected on May 7. One week later, on May 14, parliamentary elections will be held in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

On February 12, the 1260 electors of the Federal Convention (Bundesversammlung) convened in the Reichstag building in Berlin to elect the Bundespräsident, the head-of-state of the Federal Republic of Germany. The next Federal President is the former Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the SPD.

Sapphire Jubilee


65 years ago today, on 6 February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne of seven different countries: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Ceylon.

When King George VI died, his eldest daughter, 25-year old Princess Elizabeth, had just set out on a royal tour of Australia and New Zealand. She was still in Kenya when the news of the King’s death reached her. The following year on 6 June 1953 she was crowned in Westminster Abbey in London.

British monarchs since the time of Queen Victoria, the first Empress of India, had all been Kings and Emperors. But after World War II the British Empire, spanning dominions, protectorates and colonies on all five continents, entered a period of dissolution. One by one new nations gained independence. In 1947 the Empire of India was partitioned and the main part became the Republic of India.

Pakistan became a republic in 1956. So, at the time of her succession, Elizabeth was also Queen of Pakistan. In 1952 the country consisted of both West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). At the time of partition in 1947, Pakistan was defined as the majority Muslim territories of British India. The flag of Pakistan, adopted in 1947, was inspired by the flag of the All-India Muslim League. Sectarian violence, the Kashmir conflict and other tensions between Pakistan and India led to four wars including the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.

Ceylon only became a republic under the name of Sri Lanka in 1972. A year before Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, the flag of Ceylon had been changed to include symbols of all three major religious communities on the island. The maroon colour, the lion and the four leaves represent the Sinhalese majority and the Buddhist faith. The orange stripe represents the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Hindu faith. The green stripe represents the Sri Lankan Moors and the Muslim faith.

The Statute of Westminster in 1931 underlined the equal status of the United Kingdom and all of the so-called Dominions, e.g. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Already at the beginning of the 20th Century the nominal independence of these countries had been established.

South Africa was a monarchy in 1952, having been established in 1910 with the unification of four previous British colonies: the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange River Colony (the former Oranje Free State). The flag of South Africa between 1928 and 1994 put together the British Union Flag and flags of the former Dutch Boer republics. South Africa became a republic in 1961. Princess Elizabeth had visited the country in 1947 with her parents. Not until the end of Apartheid did she revisit. Elizabeth II, the former Queen of South Africa, was received by Nelson Mandela, the first black South African president in 1995.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand remained monarchies. Today, they are among the 16 independent nations where Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, represented in everyday constitutional life by a Governor-General. The flags of New Zealand and Australia stem from the 1900s. The flag of Canada was a version of the British Red Ensign until 1965 when the red and white Maple Leaf (or l’Unifolié) was adopted.

The British Empire is no more. In its stead, the Commonwealth of Nations unites 52 independent countries, most of which are former British territories. Elizabeth II is the greatly respected head of this intergovernmental organization, a role she has fulfilled for 65 years.

Scandinavian cross flags Scandinavians may never have heard of


More than a thousand years after the Vikings conquered and settled parts of Scotland and England, and hundreds of years after the Dannebrog first inspired the designs of other flags, four British counties have chosen their own Scandinavian cross flags to celebrate cultural ties with Scandinavia.

1. The Shetland Islands is the northernmost part of Scotland. Together with Orkney, Shetland was raided and invaded by Norse, mostly Norwegian, Vikings as early as the 8th Century. The isles were officially part of the Kingdom of Norway until 1468.

The flag of Shetland was designed in 1969 and made official on 1 February 2005. The colours are Scottish (blue and white), the cross shape is Scandinavian. The Scandinavian, or Nordic, cross design has been adopted for all national flags and a number of other flags in the Nordic countries. Now, the design has also spread across the North Sea.

2. The Orkney Islands lie south of Shetland and north of Caithness. The Orkney flag, also known as the St. Magnus’ Cross, was adopted on 10 April 2007. The colours come from the coat of arms of the Orkney Islands Council which displays the galley of the medieval Earldom of Orkney (gold on blue) and the ax-carrying lion from the royal arms of Norway (gold on red).

3. Caithness is a county on the northern shore of mainland Scotland. The flag of Caithness was adopted on 26 January 2016. The colours represent the peatlands, the turf and the Caithness flagstone (black), the county’s beaches (gold) and the sea (blue). A golden galley with a black raven on its sail is a traditional emblem of Caithness, too. The raven was an important badge for the Vikings.

4. West Riding is a historical division of Yorkshire, the largest county in England. The West Riding of Yorkshire covers roughly half of the county’s area including cities like Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield.

The West Riding flag was adopted on 23 May 2013. It combines the white and red cross of St. George, patron saint of England, with the Scandinavian cross design. Norse, mostly Danish, Vikings ruled the Kingdom of Jórvik (York) in the 9th and 10th Centuries. The White Rose of York is a traditional Yorkshire emblem. The rose-en-soleil badge with a white rose and a blazing sun was used by the royal House of York (14th-15th Century) as well as by the West Riding Council (1927-1974).

Twin Flags: Royal Danish, Presidential Icelandic


The flag of the President of Iceland is similar in design to the Danish Royal Standard. Both flags figure prominently during a two-day state visit underlining the close historical and cultural ties between Iceland and Denmark. 

The President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, who was installed as his country’s head of state on 1 August 2016, is on an official state visit to Denmark together with his wife, Canadian-born Eliza Reid. The visit is hosted by Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik.

The first official visit of a newly elected President of Iceland traditionally goes to Denmark. Ties between the two countries are strong. Danish is taught in Icelandic schools and Denmark is where the largest group of Icelandic expatriates live and work.

Iceland was part of the Kingdom of Denmark until 1918 when Iceland became an independant kingdom in personal union with Denmark meaning that King Christian X of Denmark was also the King of Iceland. However, in 1944 the Republic of Iceland was proclaimed.

At that time the present Queen of Denmark was four years old. As her grandfather was the King of Iceland, the third of her four given names is Icelandic: Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid. As a sign of respect and friendliness, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the former President of Iceland, once called her “Margrethe Þórhildur, Iceland’s Honourary Queen”.

The flag of the President of Iceland copies the flag of the Queen of Denmark in the sense that it is also a modified version of the national flag with swallow-tails and a white square with the coat of arms in the centre. The presidential arms of Iceland has a shield with a cross in the colours of the Icelandic flag. Its supporters are the so-called landvættir, the four mythological protectors of Iceland: a bull, a griffin, a dragon and a giant.

In four of the five Nordic countries the head of state’s flag is a modified version of the national flag. Only in Norway the king’s standard is a heraldic banner with a different design.

Interestingly, when Iceland was a kingdom, the Icelandic Royal Standard was not at all similar to the Danish Royal Standard; it was a heraldic banner with a white falcon on a blue field. The falcon adorned the arms of Iceland from 1903 till 1919.

The Order of the Falcon is the Icelandic national order. Queen Margrethe II is a Grand Cross of the order since 1958. In 1973, after her succession as Queen of Denmark, she was given the Collar, the order’s highest class. During the state visit, President Jóhannesson will receive the Order of the Elephant, the highest Danish order.

What’s With The Flags Behind The President?


Here is the explanation for the unusual flag display on Capitol Hill on Inauguration Day: A tribute is paid to President Trump’s home state of New York and to one of USA’s earliest national flags.

Five huge flags hang vertically on the United States Capitol during the Inauguration Day ceremony. In the center: the current Flag of the United States with fifty stars. In second and third position: the U.S. flag in use when the President’s home state was admitted to the Union. In fourth and fifth position: the Betsy Ross Flag with thirteen stars in a circle.

The so-called Betsy Ross Flag is one of the earliest designs of the U.S. flag and it has been popular since the 19th Century. The thirteen stripes and the circle of thirteen stars represent the thirteen colonies which formed the United States in 1776.

The flag with thirteen stars arranged in rows is sometimes called the Francis Hopkinson Flag. This was the first official version of the U.S. flag, adopted in 1777. As the state of New York was one of the original thirteen U.S. states, this flag represents the home state of President Donald Trump.

According to the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the presidential inauguration takes place every four years on January 20, at noon. The newly elected president takes the Oath of Office, administered by the Chief Justice of the United States.

The ceremony, which also includes music, prayers and the President’s Inaugural Address, takes place on the West Front of the Capitol Building and the event draws hundreds of thousands of spectators. In 1985, though, the public inauguration of President Ronald Reagan had to be held indoors in the Capitol Rotunda because of unusually harsh weather conditions with freezing temperatures and strong wind chill.

It was in the 1980’s that the flag display on Inauguration Day began to include historical U.S. flags connected to the president’s home state. Note, that a president’s home state is not necessarily the state where he is born.

At the two inaugurations of President Bill Clinton, in 1993 and 1997, flags with 25 stars represented his home state of Arkansas as, in 1836, Arkansas was the 25th state to be admitted to the Union. Texas, being the 28th state to be admitted to the Union in 1845, was honored with 28-star flags at the inaugurations of President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005.

At the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations, flags with 21 stars hung next to the Stars and Stripes and the Betsy Ross Flags. This flag was the version of the U.S. flag in use for one year after the 1818 admission to the Union of Illinois, home state of President Barack Obama.


Read also: USA: The President’s Flag and George Washington On The Flag.

USA: The President’s Flag


The American presidential flag has always been dark blue. Fittingly so, since it was first used by the U.S. Navy. Four presidents played an important part in the flag’s evolution.

Since 1882 the U.S. presidents have had a flag. It is used for military and ceremonial purposes, it is seen behind the president in official photos and at press conferences, it hangs in the Oval Office of the White House and it flies on buildings, cars, ships and airplanes when the President of the United States is present.

As other flags of heads of state around the world, the U.S. presidential flag is never flown at half mast as it is a symbol of national sovereignty and the executive power of the president. On Inauguration Day every four years, or when a U.S. president dies or leaves office before the end of his term, the presidential flag immediately becomes the flag of his successor. It is not connected to the president as a person, but rather to the president as an institution.

Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885) wanted the President of the United States to have his own flag. This idea was inspired by other countries where the presence of the commander-in-chief, be it a president or a monarch, on board a naval vessel was indicated by use of a special flag hoisted at the main mast.

In his 1882 executive order, President Arthur described the new presidential flag for use at sea: “a blue ground with arms of the United States in the center”. The official U.S. coat of arms is displayed on the Great Seal of the United States. When the Great Seal was redesigned in 1885, the presidential flag changed too.

Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) decided in 1902 that there should be only one flag for the U.S. President and made some changes to the flag’s design. The issue was that an alternative presidential flag had been used by the U.S. Army since 1898. The blue presidential flag, primarily used by the Navy, was deemed too similar in appearance to the Army infantry flag. So, the Army’s presidential flag was red in stead of blue.

Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) changed the design of the president’s flag to accommodate the needs of the U.S. Army. Adding four white stars, one in each corner of the flag, the flag was made sufficiently distinct from other flags. President Wilson’s 1916 executive order also ended the Army’s use of a ceremonial Presidential Color with a different design from the Presidential Flag.

Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) was president when both the Seal of the President and the Flag of the President found their current form. Since 1945 the president’s arms on his seal and on his flag differ from the arms on the Great Seal. For example, a circle of white stars surrounds the coat of arms, representing all the States of the Union.


Read also PROPOSAL: A Flag for the President-Elect and What’s With The Flags Behind The President?

Lord Snowdon dies at 86


The former brother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, passed away peacefully in his London home on Friday 13 January 2017. His son David, aged 55, inherits his titles and arms and is now the 2nd Earl of Snowdon.

Antony Armstrong-Jones was a British photographer, film maker and philanthropist. In 1960 he married Princess Margaret, the only sister of Queen Elizabeth II. The marriage was troubled and ended in scandal and divorce in 1978.

The wedding of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones took place on 6 May 1960 at Westminster Abbey in London. The couple had two children: David Armstrong-Jones, the present Earl of Snowdon, born in 1961, and Lady Sarah Chatto née Armstrong-Jones, born in 1964. Both of them, as well as their children, are in line of succession to the Queen.

Shortly before David’s birth Antony Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley. Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales with its 1,085 m above sea level. The mountain’s name was connected to the British royal family already in the 18th Century: Baron Snowdon was among the many titles of King George III.

According to British custom a peer’s “lesser” title is used as a courtesy title by his eldest son, so David Armstrong-Jones was styled Viscount Linley in the lifetime of his father. As a designer, writer and businessmann he has used the Linley name commercially. His son, 17-year-old Charles Armstrong-Jones, is the new Lord Linley.

The coat of arms of the Earl of Snowdon has a chevron of silver and red as well as an eagle and two fleurs-de-lis of gold, all on black. A fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily. The blazon i.e. the proper heraldic description of the arms reads:

Sable, on a chevron argent, between in chief two fleurs-de-lis Or, and in base an eagle displayed Or, four pallets gules.

The golden eagle in Lord Snowdon’s arms comes from the arms attributed to Owain ap Gruffudd, the Welsh King of Gwynedd who lived in the 12th Century. A green banner with three golden eagles was carried by soldiers from Caernarfonshire in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. A flag with three yellow eagles on green was adopted as the county flag of Caernarfonshire in 2012.

The paternal grandparents of Antony Armstrong-Jones came from the historic county of Caernarfonshire in Wales, an area which formed part of the medieval Kingdom of Gwynedd. Caernarfonshire is also where Snowdon is located.

In 1999 the Earl of Snowdon was created Baron Armstrong-Jones, a life peerage, in order to keep his seat in the House of Lords after the Lords reform of 1999. He was a member of the House of Lords until retiring in 2016.

Lord Snowdon married a second time after divorcing Princess Margaret. He leaves behind three children from his two marriages and two children from affairs outside of marriage. He should be remembered as an artist and a champion for disabled people.