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Last modified: 2023-07-15 by randy young
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image by Željko Heimer, 10 October 2001
Flag adopted 22 December 1978, coat of arms adopted 7 June 1975
Description: Nine horizontal stripes, in turn blue and white; a white cross on a blue square field in canton
Use: on land, as the civil, state and war flag; at sea, as the civil, state and war ensign.
Color approximate specifications (Album des Pavillons [pay00]):
- Blue: Pantone 286 C / CMYK (%) 100-60-0-5
On this page:
Origin and meaning of the Greek flag
The striped flag has been in use since 1822, and was approved in 1832. The nine stripes are said to stand for the nine syllables of the Greek patriots' motto, Ελευθερια η Θανατος ("Freedom or Death"), now the national motto of Greece.
Paul Adams, 19 June 1995
Simple cross Greek flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 June 1995
The simple white-cross-on-blue flag dates from 1822, and was used as an alternative national flag, but only in land, not at sea. Only the striped flag was used at sea.
From June 1975 until December 1978, the plain cross flag was used as the only national flag. The situation is now reversed, and the striped flag is now the only official national flag, although the cross flag can still be seen in unofficial use.
Paul Adams, 19 June 1995
The Hellenic Army's war flags are of the "simple cross" variety with the depiction of St. George slaying the dragon in the center of the cross. Although the official Hellenic flag (striped version) flies over all government installations - including those of the Hellenic Armed Forces - Hellenic Army units always parade with the previously referenced version of the simple cross flag. The same old flag is also used as part of the markings on Hellenic Armed Forces vehicles.
Labros Pilalis, 13 September 2005
There is no officially prescribed shade of blue for the Greek flag (photo) in the 1978 Law. The 1970 Law that abolished the plain cross flag did not specify a particular shade either, but it did provide that all flags should conform with "prototype" flags lodged with two government departments.
The shade of blue on the prototypes was, probably, very dark hence the very dark shade of flags made in 1970-1975. A lighter shade of blue is used nowadays (by convention, presumably) but still not as light as United Nations blue.
Yannis Natsinas, 14 November 2000
Greek flag represented with "Bavarian" blue colour - Image by Tomislav Todorović, 3 July 2013
According to Smith [smi82], the Greek flag was intermediate blue in the 19th century, which was derived from the flag of Bavaria, the then King's land of origin. According to the same source, while the Regime of the Colonels has introduced a very dark shade of blue, the flag law at the preparation time (1979) of the source's original edition ([smi80] was prescribing "light blue," without a precise definition. However, the Bavarian flag was actually light blue, and in the bilingual (Greek and German) official gazette, where the 1833 Decree was published (scan), the Greek word κύανος was actually translated as himmelblau (sky blue) in German. On the other hand, several sources published in 1970s and 1980s did contain the images of Greek national flag in light blue color. A good example is Carmpton [cra84], which depicted the flag in color B--.
Tomislav Todorović, 3 July 2013
The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12]) 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 Greece, PMS reflex blue. The vertical flag is the horizontal version reversed and turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise - the cross at top left.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012
image by Željko Heimer, 11 October 2001, after Album des Pavillons [pay00]
The image shown above uses a "washed out" blue color. The blue color in the coat of arms is the same as the one used in the Hellenic flags, that is dark blue. The "washed out" blue belongs to the defunct and now non-existent coat of arms of the Kingdom of Greece.
Labros Pilalis, 31 August 2005