This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website


Pule’anga Tonga, Kingdom of Tonga

Last modified: 2024-01-06 by ian macdonald
Keywords: tonga | kingdom of tonga | pule’anga tonga | canton: cross (red) | tupouto’a | coat of arms |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Tonga] 1:2  (until 1985 ) image by Željko Heimer and António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 April 2016
Flag adopted 4th November 1875, coat-of-arms adopted 1862

See also:


A red flag with a white canton containing a red cross (couped, i.e. not reaching the edges of the canton).
Željko Heimer, 31 March 2003

Ferreting in search of Tongan flags information, I found an image of the national flag in the Tongan Consulate in San Francisco website which instead of 1:2 is (exactly) 3:4. Also the canton is not half as high as the flag but around 2/5ths.
Santiago Dotor
, 25 January 2001

Tonga was a British Protected State from 18 May 1900 - 4 June 1970. The best information I have (garnered from a number of sources) is that the flag was adopted in 1866 (during the reign of King George Tupou). It was enshrined in the Constitution of 4 November 1875 (last amended 21 February 1991), and remained in use during the Protected State period.
Christopher Southworth, 5 April 2003

A British Protected State was a state with a recognised sovereign ruler that did not have relations with Foreign Powers except through the British Government. Protected States did not have Blue Ensigns or defaced Union Jacks.
David Prothero, 7 April 2003

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be.
For Tonga: PMS 032 red. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012

Construction Details

To this day there is no official construction sheet for the national flag of Tonga. However a provision was taken into the constitution of 1875, that:

The Flag of Tonga (the flag of King George) shall never be altered but shall always be the flag of this Kingdom and the present Royal Ensign shall always be the ensign of the Royal Family of Tonga.
—  Constitution of Tonga — section 47
For "King George" is meant King George Tupou I, who decreed the present flag to be Tonga's flag in 1866, after the first flag from 1862 had to be altered because its simililarity to the Red Cross Flag.

The cross in the flag was drawn as a Greek cross with square arms. This detail is the only recognizable geometrical criterion, which leaves no room for interpretation, and should be guaranteed by the constitution's provision.

Although the official flag and arms still show the square cross, there are some flag makers who design the cross with prolonged arms (see references below).

Martin Karner, 8 December 2023
As can be seen in the first two of the above sources, some of those flag makers combine such a cross with a square canton - typically, it is supposed to occupy the whole top hoist quarter, whether that is prescribed or not.
Tomislav Todorovic, 8 December 2023

[Tonga construction details] image by Željko Heimer, 31 March 2003
after the Album des Pavillons (2000)

The construction details in Album des Pavillons (2000) (shown above) are different from those obtained from the Flag Institute (shown below). Earlier sources, like Flaggenbuch (1939) and National Geographic (1917), show the flag in a 2:3 ratio, but I am somehow ready to dismiss them as unreliable. Does anyone have any information on a possible change in the ratio some time after WWII? Anyway, Album des Pavillons (2000) gives construction details as (3+3):(5+7). The details of the cross are not given, but apparently match the Flag Institute specification. Flaggenbuch does not provide construction details, presumably even Neubecker could not get them. This may be further indication that 2:3 ratio of shown in the period might not be correct.
Željko Heimer, 31 March 2003

[Tonga construction details] image by Željko Heimer, 31 March 2003
after the Flag Institute

The Flag Institute gives the flag construction as (1+2+2+2+1+8):(3+2+2+2+3+20), according to specifications provided by Chris Southworth.
Željko Heimer, 31 March 2003

2:3 version

[Tonga] image by Željko Heimer, 4 April 2003

Older sources (e.g., Flaggenbuch (1939) and National Geographic (1917)) all show this flag as 2:3~.
Željko Heimer, 4 April 2003


[Tonga 1862] image by Željko Heimer, 6 April 2003

The first design [1862] was a plain white flag with a red couped cross, but this was later found to be too similar to the International Red Cross Flag, adopted in 1863, and so the white flag was placed in the canton of a red one. The 1875 constitution states that the flag shall never be altered.
Source: Dorling Kindersley 1997
Smith 1980 added that "the actual forms of the flag and arms are credited both to Prince Uelingatoni* Ngu Tupoumalohi and to Reverend Shirley Baker, a Wesleyan minister." Is Uelingatoni a local form of Wellington?
Ivan Sache
, 31 December 1999

The present design (...) was adopted for its symbolism (the red field is a representation of Christ's blood, and the cross also comes from Christian iconography) back in the 1870s or something on the understanding that it would never be changed.
David Kendall, 5 March 1997

Smith (1975) wrote: "In the first assembly of the Tonga parliament in 1862, King George Tupou I called for propositions for the design of a national flag. After a long discussion he laid open his own conception about the flag: "It is my wish that our flag contains the cross of Jesus (...) and that the flag is of red colour to bring to expression the blood which was shed on the cross for our redemption." (My translation of the German edition)
The flag and coat of arms of Tonga are credited to Prince Uelingatoni Ngu Tupoumalohi and the Methodist pastor Shirley Baker.
Martin Karner, 11 January 2004


[Coat-of-Arms (Tonga)] image from:

The flag and coat of arms of Tonga are credited to Prince Uelingatoni Ngu Tupoumalohi and the Methodist pastor Shirley Baker. The inscription "KOE 'OTUA MO TONGA KO HOKU TOFI'A" means: God and Tonga are my inheritance.
Martin Karner, 11 January 2004

Tonga Royal Arms and Flag Act

The Tonga Royal Arms and Flag Act is available on the website of the University of South Pacific, in Vanuatu at



1.Short Title.
2.Restriction on using Coat of Arms or Flag.
3.Use for business purposes prohibited.
4.Royal Ensign.
6.No prosecution without leave.

Act No. 17 of 1962

An Act to Prevent the Unauthorized Use of the Tonga Coat of Arms and the Royal Ensign.
[1962, October 30]

Short Title.
1.This Act may be cited as the Tonga Royal Arms and Flag Act.

Restriction on using Coat of Arms or Flag.
2.A person shall not, without the authority of His Majesty in Council, use in connection with any business, calling or profession the Tonga Coat of Arms or Flag of Tonga, or arms or flag so resembling them as to be calculated to deceive, in such manner as to be calculated to lead to the belief that he is duly authorized to use the Coat of Arms or the Flag of Tonga.

Use for business purposes prohibited.
3.The grant of authority to use the Coat of Arms or the Flag shall not authorize the use of the Coat of Arms or Flag for business purposes or for use on any patented article.

Royal Ensign.
4.The Royal Ensign is the personal flag of His Majesty and shall not be flown or otherwise displayed except when His Majesty is present.

5.A person guilty of an offence against this Act shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $40, and in default of payment to imprisonment for any period not exceeding 3 months.

No prosecution without leave.
6.No prosecution for a breach of the provisions of this Act shall be commenced without leave of His Majesty in Council.

Ivan Sache, 26 April 2003