Flag of the Netherlands

The flag of the Netherlands was adopted on February 19, 1937. The flag is a rectangular shape with three horizontal strips of equal size in red, white, and blue colors.  The flag of the Netherlands was one of the first tricolor flags used and is the oldest tricolor flag still used today.  The flag is the national flag of the Netherlands and also the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which includes territory in Western Europe and the Caribbean (Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles).

The red, white, and blue colors have roots as early as the sixteenth century.  The Dutch provinces, led by Prince William of Orange, revolted against Spain waving an orange, white, and blue flag.  The orange stripe, for no apparent political reason, was often replaced with a red stripe.  Eventually, and probably because the red was easier to distinguish from long distances, the orange stripe was permanently replaced with a red stripe.  In 1851, following this revolt, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was established; and in 1648, following the Eighty Years’ War, Spain recognized the Republic’s independence.

The flag of the Netherlands was flown during the French occupation that began at the end of the eighteenth century.  Louis Bonaparte, brother of the Emperor Napoleon, was made ruler of Holland in 1806 and maintained the Dutch flag, although this policy led to conflicts with his brother, and the Netherlands joined the French Empire.  In 1813, the Netherlands regained independence and flew both the orange and red versions of its flag.  The flags were often flown together until 1937, when Queen Wilhelmina declared red as the official color of the first stripe in the flag.

The flag is hoisted with an orange pennant on the national holiday Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day.  The flag is flown at government buildings and military bases all year.  Private use of the flag is rare, however, flags are often flown the home of a student who has recently graduated, with the student’s school bag hanging at the top of the staff.

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