The flag of Norway was adopted on July 13, 1821. It is rectangular with a red background and a blue Scandinavian cross that is outlined in white. The cross covers the entirety of the flag but the center of the cross is slightly to the left side of the flag. The design and colors of the flag resemble the Dannebrog, or the flag of Denmark, except that the Norwegian flag features a blue and white cross while the Donnebrog is plain white.
The colors of the Norwegian are based on the Coat of Arms of Norway, which features a red shield with a golden lion holding an axe. On top of the shield is a bold crown and a red escutcheon. The Coat of Arms of Norway originated in the Middle Ages and is one of the oldest coats of arms in Europe.
The history of the Norwegian flag is somewhat unclear, although the flag may have originated during the reign of Inge Haraldsson in the early twelfth century. During Inge’s rule, a flag with a red lion on a gold background was used. In the late thirteenth century, Erik II of Norway flew a flag with a golden lion on a red background. This flag is now known as the Royal Standard of Norway; it is used by the King of Norway and was officially adopted on November 15, 1905.
From 1536 until 1814, Norway united with the Kingdom of Denmark and used the Dannebrog, a red flag with a white Scandanavian cross. When Norway separated from Denmark in 1814, it continued to fly the Dannebrog, but also included the golden lion from its own coat of arms in the upper left corner of the flag.
Fredrik Meltzer, a member of the Norwegian parliament, designed the current flag of Norway. Although the Norwegian chambers approved the design, the King of Norway approved the flag for civilian use only. In 1899, after three consecutive chamber sessions, the flag was finally approved for use as the country’s national banner.