Iceland flag

Description: Iceland flag, the national flag of Iceland is a sky-blue rectangle with a snow-white cross and a fiery-red cross in the middle of the white cross. The proportional figures for the width and length of the rectangle are 18:25. The arms of the crosses extend entirely to the edges of the flag. The width of the white cross is 2/9 and that of the red cross 1/9 of the width of the flag. The blue field is thus divided into four rectangles, the two nearest to the Iceland flag -pole being squares (equilateral rectangles), the other two being of the same width as the squares, but twice as long.

The split Iceland flag (swallow-tail flag) is used by the Government, the Althingi, other official institutions, and representatives of the Foreign Service abroad, including honorary consuls. The split-flag differs from the ordinary national flag in the following: The outer blue fields are three times as long as the squares near the flagpole. It has a slit which is cut in straight diagonal lines from the outer corners of the flag towards its horizontal median; these lines cut the inner horizontal edge of the outer rectangles at a distance from their inner vertical edge which is 3/7 of the length of these rectangles; however, the diagonal lines do not extend fully to the horizontal median of the flag; where they meet the arm of the red cross it is cut athwart by a straight line.

Other types of Iceland flag are the flag of the President of Iceland, the post- and telegraph flag and the customs flag. All three are split-flags with different signs on them.

The colours are based on the Scotdic textile colour codification as follows:

(a) The blue colour: Scotdic No. 693009;
(b) The white colour: Scotdic No. 95;
(c) The red colour: Scotdic Iceland flag red.

Consuls may acquire samples of the Iceland flag colours from an Icelandic embassy or the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Use of the Iceland flag by consuls. See Article 44 (6).

Official Iceland flag days. Official Iceland flag days are the following:

(a) Birthday of the President of Iceland
(b) New Year's Day (1 January)
(c) Good Friday (Friday before Easter, half-mast)
(d) Easter Day
(e) First Day of Summer (a Thursday during the period 19 to 25 April)
(f) Labour Day (1 May)
(g) Whit Sunday (seven weeks after Easter)
(h) Sailors' day (the first Sunday in June, a week later if that day is Whit Sunday)
(i) National Day (Proclamation of the Republic in 1944 Birthday of Jon Sigurdsson 17 June 1811)
(j) First of December (Proclamation of Independence in 1918)
(k) Christmas Day (25 December). As stated in Article 44 (6) all consuls are expected to fly the Iceland flag on the National Day of Iceland

Handling of the Iceland flag. Detailed stipulations regarding the handling of the Iceland flag are set out in a booklet published by the Office of the Prime Minister in 1991. Consuls should take note of the following rules and endeavour to observe them when applicable.

(a) Proportion between Iceland flag and pole. When a ground Iceland flag -pole is used, its length should preferably be five times the width of the Iceland flag. If the pole is on a rooftop, the proportions should be 1:3 and if it is on the side of a house at an angle, 1:2,5.

(b) Iceland flag time. The Iceland flag should not be raised before seven O'clock in the morning. It should normally be lowered at sunset and should never be kept hoisted after midnight.

(c) Flying the Iceland flag at half-mast. When the flag is to be flown at half-mast, it should first be raised to full mast and then lowered until 1/3 of the pole is above the upper edge of the flag. When the flag is flown at half-mast on the occasion of a funeral it should be raised to the top of the flagpole when the funeral is over and flown until evening in honour of the deceased.

(d) Various rules. Always when the flag is raised or lowered care should be taken not to let it touch the ground.

i. The flag cord should be stretched so that the edge of the flag lies close to the pole;

ii. Two or more flags should never be flown on the same pole.

iii. If the Icelandic flag is among flags of other nationalities, it should be to the farthest left;

iv. If the flag is hung on a wall, it should be fully extended, and the smaller rectangles should turn upwards or to the left;

v. When the flag is used beside a rostrum or table, it should always be to the left of the speaker, seen from the audience, or on both sides if there are two flags;

vi. The flag may not be used on a rostrum, as a tablecloth or a floor mat, or to cover a statue which is about to be presented;

vii. When a coffin is covered with the flag, the cross should be towards the head;

viii. The flag should always be stored in a safe place;

ix. It is forbidden to fly a flag which is faded, dirty, frayed or damaged in any other way. Such a flag should be repaired without delay or else destroyed by burning.

Disrespect to the flag. Misuse of the flag is punishable. The use of the flag is forbidden, i.e., in firm marks, trademarks, on sales goods, packaging or in advertisements. However, changes in these stipulations have been under discussion in the Althingi. The use of the flag is also forbidden in private emblems for persons, companies, institutions, etc. When a consul learns of the misuse of the Icelandic flag, he shall notify an Icelandic embassy or the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik (see Article 54 of this Manual).

History of Iceland flag

From 1350 to 1896
From about 1350 Iceland's arms were on a red field a silver stockfish (a split and dried cod) with a golden crown. These arms were incorporated into the arms of the Kings of Denmark, and so were a part of the Danish Royal standard until this century. Incidentally, it was also part of several Greek royal flags, since the Greek royal family was related to that of Denmark. As Iceland went with Norway in union with Denmark, the Danish flag was used also in Iceland.

Iceland old flag

In 1897 the poet Einar Bendiktsson proposed arms and flag for Iceland. In an article printed in the newspaper Dagskra on the 13th of March, 1897, Einar Bendiktsson proposed to do away with the crowned stockfish as arms of Iceland. He wanted to have a silver falcon on blue instead. Einar Bendiktsson wanted the Icelands flag to be based on the colours of the arms, so that the flag of Iceland was to be a blue field with a white Nordic cross.

In 1903, the same year as Iceland got home rule, the Icelanders had the stockfish replaced with new arms. They felt that the stockfish was a humiliating symbol that the ruling Danes had invented for them. The new arms (adopted 11 December 1903) had a blue field with a silver falcon. The colours and the falcon were regarded as more ancient symbols of the country than the stockfish (this is not the case however).

Iceland flag from 1914 Alternate proposal of 1914
According to Birgir Thorlacius: Fani Islands og skjaldarmerki, Andvari, Vol. 6 (New series), No. 1, 1964, the flag that was hoisted in front of the government building in Reykjavik on Sunday 1. December 1918 is item no. 15134 of the National Museum. There is no reason to consider this the original flag, however, as the Icelandic flag of this exact design was approved by Royal decree dated 19 June 1915 and put into use then. William Crampton claims in his The World of Flags: A Pictorial History (Rev. edition, London: Studio Editions, 1992, p. 52) that the present design was introduced on 22 November 1913, but this is not correct as this date refers to a proclamation by king Christian X to the effect that Iceland had the right to fly a separate flag on land and in territorial waters. It was explicitly specified that the design of the flag which was to be decided by a future royal decree.It took a further couple of years to settle on a design, as the king refused to recognized the blue and white cross flag widely used for some time and favored by many Icelanders. This flag was too reminiscent of the Greek flag, according to the opinion of His Majesty, though this is difficult to understand as the Greek flag of the day was the same as the one in use today. In the end, the flag committee appointed by parliament came up with two proposals, the primary one corresponding to the current Icelandic flag [shown at the top of this page], the secondary being also a cross flag with a white field charged with a blue cross bordered in white and blue. This was not the first time a blue-white-red cross flag had been proposed, however. It seems that honour belongs to Matthias Thordarson who suggested such a design during a debate in the student's society of Reykjavik on 27. September 1906. The source for this information is again the article by Birgir Thorlacius. Jan Oskar Engene, 6 January 2001

The Iceland flags of 1915 The flags of 1915
The blue and white flag gained some popularity, especially after the flag incident of 12 June 1913. A young man, Einar Petursson, was rowing around Reykjavik harbor with a blue and white flag flying from the small boat. The captain of the Danish coast guard ship "Islands Falk" ("Falcon of Iceland") arrested the young man and confiscated the flag. This provoked outrage throughout Reykjavik and blue and white flags appeared everywhere. As the captain tried to go ashore to pursue the matter against the young man, he was forced to go back again under an espalier of blue and white flags.

A meeting was called and a resolution protesting against the action of the captain was adopted. The resolution also called for the official adoption of a flag for Iceland. The parliament wanted the blue and white cross flag, but this was denied by Danish authorities, apparently because the King thought this flag to be too similar to the royal flag of Greece. The new flag of 1915 had a blue field with a red cross bordered in white. It is this flag that is used today. The design was proposed by Matthias Thordarson. He explained the colours as blue for the mountains, white for ice and red for fire (Iceland has much volcanic activity). Though the King had agreed that the Icelanders had the right to a flag, he declined to accept the blue-white-red flag at first. However, a Royal decree of 19 June 1915 allowed the flag to be used on land, but restricted the use at sea to local waters. The flag was officially accepted by the king 30 November 1918 and adopted by law as the national flag the same day. It was first hoisted (as a state ensign) 1 December 1918. On this day Iceland became a separate kingdom united with Denmark under one king. Although the pattern is the same as the modern flag, note that the shade of blue has changed. Originally, the flag was described as "sky blue (ultramarine blue)", a light blue shade. When legalisation was enacted in 1944, the ultramarine specification was dropped, and the shade of blue got darker.The National Museum of Iceland has the original flag that was flown on Iceland's Independence Day on the 18th of December 1918.

State Flag and Ensign (1915) State Flag and Ensign (1915)

Picture of the Iceland flag

Icelands coat of arms (Icelands shield )
The Icelandic Coat of Arms is a silvery cross in a sky-blue field with a fiery red cross in the silvery one. The shield-bearers are the four guardian spirits of the land: A bull to the right of the shield, a giant to the left, a vulture to the right above the bull, and a dragon to the left above the giant. The shield rests on a slab of basalt. Icelands coat of arms

Icelandic national anthem

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