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Sweden - Fact Sheet

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Civil/State Flag/Ensign
[Civil/State flag of Sweden]

[Civil/State - land and sea] Proportions: 5:8

War Flag/Ensign
[War Flag of Sweden]

[War flag - land and sea] Proportions: 1:2

Civil Flag Construction Sheet
[Civil flag Construction Sheet]

See also:

External links:


The flag of Sweden is a rectangular Scandinavian cross.1. The cross is yellow against a blue field in the dimensions of 5:8.  The War (military) flag and ensign are a tongued swallowtail version of the state flag with the proportions of 1:2.

Adoption Date and related information

Flag dating from 16th Century,
officially re-adopted 22 June 1906. 2

The exact age of the Swedish Flag is not known, but the oldest recorded pictures of a blue cloth with a yellow cross date from the 16th century. As decreed in a royal warrant of 1569, the yellow cross was al-ways to be borne on Swedish battle standards and banners, as the Swedish Coat of Arms was blue divided quarterly by a cross of gold. The design of the Swedish flag is probably taken from the Danish flag, and its blue and yellow colours possibly come from the Coat of Arms. Not until the 1620s, i.e., during the reign of Gustav II Adolf. do we find any reliable evidence of the blue flag with a yellow cross being carried by Swedish vessels. According to our oldest existing flag warrant, from 1663, a triple-tailed flag was to be used except by merchant ships, whose flag was square-cut.3

State arms

Greater Arms

[Greater Arms of Sweden]

Lesser Arms

[Lesser Arms of Sweden]

About the Greater State Arms

The present Greater State Arms have had the same form since 1844, when King Oscar I, who had just succeded his father Carl XIV Johan (the former French Marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, also former Prince of Ponte Corvo), changed it back to the form it had had before the union with Norway (1814-1905). In the first years of union with Norway, the greater Swedish state arms were divided into three fields, the first for Sweden (the three crowns), the second for the Folkunga dynasty (lion on streams) and the third for Norway (lion with axe).

When the arms were changed back, Union Arms were also created. These looked like the Greater State Arms of Sweden but had the arms of Norway in the heraldic left half of the shield and two royal crowns on top of the shield. These arms were only to be used in matters regarding both of the two realms.

The first act of law on the state arms were issued in 1908 (before this, the state arms were changed by royal decrees). The only change made in 1908 was, that from then on the shield is only surrounded by the Order of the Seraphim, the highest ranking royal order of Sweden (while before 1908, the shield could be surrounded by all royal orders).

The Greater State Arms are also personal arms of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf.

About the Smaller State Arms

"A with a royal crown crowned shield azure with three open crowns or, placed two above one. The shield may be surrounded by the insignia of the Order of the Seraphim."

The royal crown upon the shield denotes royal worthiness. The royal crown is also a sign for the state, which means that state activity carried on under a certain symbol can have the royal crown in this symbol, as for instance the royal crown can be found in the arms of the Customs Authority. State authorities and civil service departments can also use the smaller state arms with addition of special symbols denoting their activity, as in the arms of the Police, where the three crowns-shield is accompanied by oak leaves and fasceses.4

Flag Laws

In Swedish only at this time

Svensk författningssamling5

Förordning om ändring i förordningen (1983:826) med riktlinjer för färgnyanserna i Sveriges flagga;

utfärdad den 6 november 2008.

Regeringen föreskriver i fråga om förordningen (1983:826) med riktlinjer för färgnyanserna i Sveriges flagga

dels att hänvisningen till Svensk Standard i första stycket ska ändras till "SS 19100",

dels att hänvisningarna till Svensk Standard i tredje och femte styckena ska ändras till "SS 19104 + Bilaga",

dels att förkortningarna "NCS" och "CIE" i första respektive tredje styckena ska placeras framför orden "beteckningar",

dels att det svenska namnet "Internationella belysningskommissionen" ska föras in i tredje stycket,

dels att orden "skall" ska bytas ut mot "ska". Förordningen kommer därför att ha följande lydelse från och med den dag då denna förordning träder i kraft.

Den svenska flaggans färger, som enligt 3 § lagen (1982:269) om Sveriges flagga är ljust mellanblå på fälten och guldgul på korset, definieras på följande sätt enligt de NCS-beteckningar (Natural Colour System) som används i Svensk Standard SS 19100

den blå färgen 4055-R95B
den gula färgen 0580-Y10R.

Toleranserna i NCS-enheter ska för svarthet, för kulörthet och för kulörton vara mindre än ± 5 enheter.

Enligt de CIE-beteckningar (Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage, sv: Internationella belysningskommissionen) som används i Svensk Standard SS 19104 + Bilaga ska flaggans färger ha följande kromaticitetskoordinater, x och y, och ljusreflektansfaktorer, Y den blå färgen

x = 0,189
y = 0,192
Y = 8,3
den gula färgen
x = 0,472
y = 0,465
Y = 64,4.

Ungefärliga toleranser i CIE-värden anges på följande sätt.

Den blå färgen:

Y = 6,2 - 10,4.

En yta i CIE-diagrammet given av fyra punkter x/y =

0,180/0,190 och

Den gula färgen:

Y = 55 - 75.

En yta i CIE-diagrammet given av fyra punkter x/y =

0,455/0,465 och

Vid färgbestämningen ska de metoder för bedömning och mätning som anges i Svensk Standard SS 19104 + Bilaga användas. Förordning (2008:888)

Denna förordning träder i kraft den 1 januari 2009.


1Defined in this document as a Saint George cross shifted towards the hoist. [Editor]
2Nozomi Kariyasu, E-mail regarding adoption dates
3Željko Heimer, E-mail of 10 March 2003 citing information from the Swedish Institute
4Elias Granqvist, E-mail of 8 July 2000
5document located by Elias Granqvist, E-mail of 28 November 2008

Artistic credits:

Civil/State flag by Edward Mooney, Jr.
War flag by Željko Heimer
State arms unknown
construction sheet: Edward Mooney, Jr.

Flags of the World
December, 2008