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Flag of Spain - Image by Antonio Gutiérrez, 26 May 1999
Flag an arms officially adopted 19 December 1981.
Description: Flag horizontally divided red-yellow-red (1:2:1) with the national coat of arms shifted to the hoist.
Use: on land as the national, civil and war flag, on sea as the national, civil and war ensign.
Colour approximate specifications (Album des Pavillons [pay00]) :
On this page:
The basic design of the Spanish flag is one of twelve proposals of new war ensign designed in 1785 upon request of King Charles III. The king wanted to further differentiate the Spanish war ensign (up to then plain white with the Spanish arms in the centre) from those of other European countries (mainly Bourbon-ruled ones as France, Parma, Tuscany or Two Sicilies but also the British White Ensign), in order to avoid confusion at sea.
The current flag, with different arms, was historically used as follows:
- War ensign - Royal Decree, 25 May 1785;
- Flag for Navy buildings (harbours, maritime outposts...) - General Navy Regulations, 1793;
- State and war flag and ensign - Royal Decree, 13 October 1843;
- State and war flag (including civil use) and ensign - Decree, 27 July 1938;
- National flag, 1977;
- National flag (with the current coat of arms), Royal Decree, 1981.
In 1981 the eagle disappeared from the Spanish national flag, leaving the current red-yellow-red flag with crowned arms (greatly simplified, including a small oval in the center with three fleurs-de-lis). The crowned pillars flank the shield.
Santiago Dotor & Nick Artimovicvh, 26 May 1999
The specifications of the Spanish flag are given, with a construction sheet, in Article 3 of Royal Decree No. 2,964, adopted on 18 December 1981 and published on 19 December 1981 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 303, pp. 29,729-29,730 (text), as follows:
The coat of arms of Spain shall have a height of 2/5 the flag's hoist and shall appear on both sides of it on the middle [vertically centered] of the yellow stripe.
When the flag of Spain has the usual proportions, a length of three halves its width, the [vertical] axis of the coat of arms shall be placed at a distance from the hoist of half the flag's hoist.
When the length is smaller than usual or when the flag is square, the coat of arms shall be placed on the centre of the flag.
Santiago Dotor, 21 September 2000
The largest Spanish flag displayed on land (14 m x 21 m; 264 sq. m; photo) has been flown permanently at Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square), central Madrid, since October 2002 (presentation).
Santiago Dotor & José Carlos Alegría, 15 October 2002
The jura de bandera takes place every year when Spanish youths end military service. This is not reserved to them however, and any Spaniard can request attending the ceremony and taking part in the oath. Citizens are not otherwise sworn in to the flag. This is most relevant, as compulsory military service will disappear in Spain in the short term. The national anthem (a Prussian score called Marcha Granadera - Grenadiers' March, a gift from King Frederick the Great to King Charles III) is usually played Ð but not necessarily - when the flag is present and/or raised/lowered. There is no current official lyrics for the anthem.
Santiago Dotor, 26 May 1999