Flag of Norway

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.

Flag of Ireland

The flag of Ireland was officially adopted in 1919 when Ireland gained its independence from Great Britain. The flag is rectangular with three vertical stripes: a green stripe on the left side, a white stripe in the middle, and an orange stripe on the right.

The colors and design of the Irish flag have clear symbolism and historical context. The green stripe on the flag represents the Gaelic tradition, the majority of Ireland’s population and the group of revolutionaries that fought for Ireland’s independence.  The orange stripe stands for William of Orange—the king of England and Ireland—and his supporters.  These supporters were overwhelmingly Protestant, loyal to the British government, and often found conflict with the Gaelic Irish majority.  The white in the center represents a truce, and more importantly, peace, between the two major Irish traditions.

The origin of the Irish flag dates back to the rivalry between the Gaelic and Orange Irish traditions.  The Gaelic Irish began using a green flag with a harp on it in the mid seventeenth century, and shortly after, the color green—and the harp—became widely associated with the Gaelic people.  The Protestants, who organized the Orange Order, founded their kingdom in 1795, and the two traditions fought each other in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.  In the mid-nineteenth century, many Irish nationalists began to spread the idea of making peace between these two traditions in order to have an independent Irish nation.

The use of green, white, and orange colors together was first exhibited during the French Revolution, when Irish supporters wore cockades, rosettes, and badges featuring this tricolor to celebrate.  In 1848, a group of French women gave the first version of the Irish flag to Thomas Francis Meagher, a Young Ireland leader, and he displayed the flag from publicly for the first time during a public address celebrating the French Revolution. Although the tricolor flag was often displayed alongside the French tricolor during this period, the green Gaelic flag was most often used until the Easter Rising, which began the Irish revolution in 1916.