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Rhine police (The Netherlands)

Last modified: 2022-07-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: rhine | police | rhenus |
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[Rhine police flag] image by M. Schmöger, 15 December 2002

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Rhine police

The article "150 Jahre Rheinstromflagge" [dum51] reports on all transnational Rhine flags since about 1800. The first should have been introduced in 1804 with the Art. 88 of the convention: the ships shall "hoist a divided flag with the colours of the two empires". How this flag really looked like, is unknown. The diagonally striped one is a later variant, according to [dum51] (different from [neu39a]) in use until 1815.
Later the civil ensigns of the Rhine states should add the word "Rhenus" (Latin for Rhine).
For the river police from 1913 onwards there was a specific recognition flag, made of triangles in the national colours black-white-red (Dutch police boats in red-white-blue).
In 1924 this was replaced by black-red-gold triangles, switching back to black-white-red in 1933. A temporary police flag was introduced in 1949, showing on a white field two black diagonal stripes, and a "P" at the hoist. In 1951 the 1924-1933 flag was reintroduced.
Unfortunately, I do not have more material on these flags, neither if they are still used, nor do I have an illustration of the 1949 flag.
M. Schmöger, 15 December 2002

Rhenusflag (1826-1868)

[Rhenus flag] image by Jarig Bakker, 14 Sep 2007

During the Congress of Vienna (1815) de political map of Europe was redrawn. The main powers agreed that a.o. that no more toll would be imposed on the Rhine river. From the Swiss border to the sea traffic on the Rhine would be free. The International Central Committee for the Traffic on the Rhine was founded to regulate it. The regulations, finished 24 May 1815, were integral part of the final act of the Viennese Congress.

The Rhine river states retained the right to check ships on the Rhine. Special customs boats would be used for that. In articles 23 of the Rhine traffic regulations it was stipulated that these boats had to be visible by carrying a national flag with the word "RHENUS", Latin for Rhine.

The Netherlands and the other Rhine river states were not in agreement over where the Rhine ceased to be the Rhine. According to the Netherlands it was where the Rhine became the Lek river; other countries thought that it was where it flowed into the sea.

In the "Nederlandsch Staatsblad" (Dutch state gazette) of 1 March 1827 the Temporary Regulations of the Dutch Rhine were printed, which met partly the foreign objections. Article 16 read: "The vessels at these customs offices will carry the national flag with the word Rhenus in the white field".

During the convention of Mains (1831) the Netherlands yielded to foreign pressure. The Rhine would be toll-free till the sea. Article 107 of the Convention, published in the "Nederlandsch Staatsblad" of 6 July 1831, stipulated that "The ships and boats of the shipping rights will carry the flag of the Rhine river states, to which they belong, but to show their destination for the service of the shipping rights, the word RHENUS shall be added".

Only a few Dutch Rhenus flags have been used. When the Convention of Mainz was revised in October 1868 the article about the Rhenus flags was stricken. Nobody thought of taking one to a museum, so the image of the flag is based on images in the Nederlandsch Staatsblad.

Source: Jos Poels: "Verloren gegaan: Rhenusvlag", in Vlaggenlijn # 2, no date, [c. 2000], published by Stichting Vlaggenmuseum, Rotterdam
Jarig Bakker, 14 September 2007