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Region of Brussels-Capital (Belgium)

Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale

Last modified: 2012-10-13 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Brussels-Capital]

Flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital - Image by Mark Sensen, 28 November 1999


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Official description of the flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital

The flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital is prescribed by Decree of 16 May 1991, published in the Belgian official gazette on 10 September 1991.
Tabled on 27 February 1991 by Walter Vandenbossche, Michiel Vandenbussche, Armand De Decker, Didier van Eyll, Serge Moureaux, Marie Nagy, Nathalie de T'Serclaes, August De Winter and Michiel Vandenbussche, the Decree "On the Emblem and the Flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital" was adopted on 16 May 1991.

Article 1.
The Region of Brussels-Capital shall have for emblem the iris.

Article 2.
The flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital shall be blue with a yellow iris outlined in white.

Article 3.
The flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital shall be hoisted over the buildings belonging to the Region, in the same conditions and on the same days as the Belgian flag.

Article 4.
The colour and black and white representations of the emblem and of the flag shall be those shown in Appendices 1 to 7 to the present Decree, whose originals, with the graphic standards for reproduction, shall be kept by the Clerk's Office of the Council of the Region of Brussels-Capital.

Article 5.
The present Decree shall come into force on the day of its publication in the Belgian official gazette.

Appendix 1 shows the rectangular flag, with the following caption: "The length shall be 1.5 time the hoist. The blue background Pantone 280. The inner part of the flower in yellow Pantone 116. The outline shall remain white."
Appendices 2-7 show different colour and black and white versions of the emblem.

Ivan Sache, 18 November 2009


History of the flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital

The "Developments" section of the aforementioned Bill, preceding the text and the images, says that the Council of the Region of Brussels-Capital quasi unanimuously adopted the iris as a symbol of the Region on 17 October 1990, requiring the Council's Increased Board to propose a graphic chart for the emblem.
The members of the Increased Board approved the iris as the emblem of the Region. The species of iris with big yellow flowers, in English the yellow or flag iris (Iris pseudoacorus) is called marsh iris both in French (iris des marais) and Dutch (moerasiris); Brussels was once known as a marshy place where the yellow iris grew. Moreover, the iris is found in several pictures of Brussels or made by artists from Brussels. In the antiquity, the iris already had a symbolic value, since Iris was the gods' messenger transported on a rainbow. The iris does not allude to a specific municipality of the Region Brussels-Capital and cannot be confused with the emblems of the State or other entities. Flowers are common elements in heraldic and vexilllogic representations.
To highlight the role played by Brussels in the European construction, the colours of the Region's emblem and flag should be the same as of the European Union flag, that is blue and yellow.

The website of the Region Brussels-Capital (IrisNet) states that Brussels was once the Carolingian town of Bruocsella, set up in the valley of the Senne, a river than meandering through marshes. The yellow iris could have grown in that place.
The iris flower was used to decorate the scepter of Charlemagne's followers, including Charles of France (953-991?), appointed Duke of Lower Lorraine by Emperor Otto II in 977 and considered to have founded Brussels in 979. However, Belgian historians have recently considered this as a legend, mostly because no archeological remains of the castle built by Charles have ever been founded in Brussels.
Yet another legend relates how the iris-planted marshes helped the Dukes of Brabant in the 11th-12th centuries. Knowing that iris grows only in shallow waters, the duke's riders could easily cross the marshes while the enemies got stuck when running after them. The yellow iris can still be seen in the valley of Vuylbeek, located in the old forest of Soignes.
On 5 March 1991, the Council of the Region of Brussels-Capital lanched a contest for the design of the iris emblem. The design proposed by Jacques Richez was eventually selected by the Council.

According to the EuroBru website, the choice of this marsh iris predates the creation of the region of Brussels-Capital. In 1924, R. Cornette wrote that "this flower was chosen because it grows in the marshes, recalling that the capital was funded on the marshy banks of the Senne river and its tributaries (Maalbeek, Roodkloosterbeek, Geleytsbeek, Vuylbeek, Kerkebeek, Leybeek,...).

Ivan Sache, 10 November 2009


Bill to change the flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital

On 27 April 1993, Stéphane de Lobkowicz and Jean-Paul Dumont tabled at the Council of the Region of Brussels-Capital a Bill to modify the flag, published in the Belgian official gazette on 7 July 1993.

Article 1.
The Region of Brussels-Capital shall have for emblem an iris inscribed in a circle made of 12 five-pointed stars and surmounted by the Royal Crown of Belgium (Figure 1).

Article 2.
The flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital shall be blue with a yellow iris outlined in white, surrounded by a circle made of 12 yellow five- pointed stars (Figure 2).

Article 3.
The flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital shall be hoisted on the public buildings belonging to the Region, in the same conditions and on the same days as the Belgian flag.

Article 4.
The use of the former flags and emblems of the Region of Brussels-Capital shall be permitted during a period of three years after the day of effect of the present decree.

Article 5.
The present Decree shall come into force on the day of its publication in the Belgian official gazette.

Figure 2 attached to the Bill is square but the staff is not represented, as it is on the first Decree, therefore the proportions of the flag were probably not intended to be changed from 2:3 to 1:1.

The "Developments" section of the Bill, preceding the text and the images, recall that the Bill on the flag and emblem of the Region, tabled on 27 February 1991, proposed to adopt the European colours (blue and yellow) for the new flag. Accordingly, the new Bill proposed to increase the European character of the flag by adding the 12 stars, also recalling that the Treaty of Maastricht (12-13 December 1992) had recently officialized Brussels as the main seat of the European institutions.
Regarding the emblem, the Bill proposed to add a crown to highlight the belonging of the Region to Belgium, as it was already the case for the emblem of the German-Speaking Community and of the Council of the French Community.
A three-year transition period with the former and new symbols being legal was proposed to avoid discarding all the existing material showing the obsolete symbols.

Stéphane de Lobkowicz kindly confirmed by email that the Bill was not passed.

Ivan Sache, 10 November 2009