The flag of Spain, as it is defined in the Spanish Constitution of 1978, consists of three horizontal stripes: red, yellow and red, the yellow stripe being twice the size of each red stripe. Traditionally, the middle stripe was defined by the more archaic term of gualda, and hence the popular name rojigualda (red-weld).
The origin of the current flag of Spain is the Naval Ensign of 1785, Pabellón de la Marina de Guerra under Charles III of Spain. Throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, the color scheme of the flag remained intact, with the exception of the Second Republic period (1931-1939), being the only changes centered on the coat of arms.
This version is stated to be used on state, autonomic, local and institutional buildings and ships, but it is used everywhere by everybody in every circumstance, having acquired "de facto" the status of national flag.
The present coat of arms consists of a quartered shield, each of the four quadrants representing one of the four kingdoms that were merged to form a unified Spain at the end of the 15th century. Namely, the kingdoms are: Castile, represented by the gold castle on red; León, represented by the purple lion on silver; Aragon, represented by the four red bars on gold; and Kingdom of Navarre, represented by the linked gold chains on red. Also the moorish kingdom of Granada is represented by the pomegranate fruit in the bottom of the coat of arms. In the centre of the shield is a inescutcheon with the emblem of the reigning Spanish royal Family, House of Bourbon (a blue oval with a red-edged border containing three golden fleur de lys). The coat is crowned with the Spanish Royal Crown and guarded on each side by two colums crowned and charged with a red ribbon with the motto "plus ultra" in gold letters. The motto means "further beyond" in Latin).
The columns on the Spanish coat of arms are the mythological Pillars of Hercules (of the Strait of Gibraltar, gateway to the Atlantic Ocean), and considered the end of the known World in ancient times. The "Plus Ultra" motto replaced the former "Non Plus Ultra" (something like "No further from here") before the discovery of America, since Spain was considered "the Westernmost point" on Earth (thus, "no further from here")
The King of Spain (Spanish: Rey de España) uses a flag known as the Royal Standard. The Royal Standard of Spain consists of a dark blue square with the Coat of arms of the King in the center. It is usually hoisted at the King's official residence, the Palacio de la Zarzuela, others Spanish royal sites, present on its official car, as small flags and has a military use. The Royal Guidon (Guión) is regulated by Title II, Rule 1, of Royal Decree 1511/1977. It is identical to the Royal Standard except that the Royal Guidon has a Gold fringe. It is made of silk’s taffeta. The size of the guindon is 80 x 80 cm. It is the personal command sign or positional flag of the monarch and carried nearby him.
Also the heir of the crown, the Prince of Asturias, has its own standard and guidon. The Standard of the Prince of Asturias (Estandarte del Príncipe de Asturias) is regulated by Royal Decree 284/2001 that modified the Title II of Spanish Royal Decree 1511/1977. The Standard of the Prince of Asturias consists of a light blue (the colour of the Flag of Asturias) square flag with the Coat of arms of the Prince of Asturias in the center. The Guidon (Guión) is identical to the Standard except that the Royal Guidon has a Gold fringe. It is made of silk’s taffeta. The size of the guidon is 80 x 80 cm.
La bandera de España está formada por tres franjas horizontales, roja, amarilla y roja, siendo la amarilla de doble anchura que cada una de las rojas.|
Artículo 4 1 de la constitución española de 1978
The flag of Spain consists of three horizontal stripes: red, yellow and red, the yellow strip being twice as wide as each red stripe.
Article 4.1 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978
|CIELAB values||CIE (Illuminant C)||Web color|
|COLOR NAME English (Spanish)||H*||C*||L*||x||y||Y||HTML code|
|Flag Red (Rojo bandera)||35º||70||37||0,614||0,320||9,5|| |
|Flag Weld-Yellow (Amarillo-gualda bandera)||85º||95||80||0,488||0,469||56,7|| |
For mourning activities, the flag can be flown in either of the following ways. The first method, commonly known as half-staffing, is performed when the flag is hoisted to the top of the flagpole, then lowered to the pole's one-third position. The other method is to attach a black ribbon to a flag that is permanently affixed to a staff. The ribbon itself is ten centimetres wide and it is attached to the mast so that the ends of the ribbon reach the bottom of the flag. During the funeral ceremony, the flag may be used to cover the coffins of government officials, soldiers and persons designated by an act of the President; these flags are later folded and presented to the next of kin before internment.
When flying the Spanish flag with other flags, the following is the correct order of precedence: The national flag, flags of foreign states, the flag of the European Union, international NGOs, military and government standards, Autonomous communities flags, city flags and any others. When foreign flags are used alongside the Spanish flag, the flags are sorted according to their countries' names in the Spanish language. The only exception is when the congress or meeting held in Spain dictates a different language to be used for sorting. The flag of Europe has been hoisted since Spain became a member of the Union. While not mentioned by name in the law, the flag of NATO can be used in Spain, since it belongs to that organization as well.
When unfurled in the presence of other flags, the national flag must not have smaller dimensions and must be situated in a prominent, honorable place, according to the relevant protocol.
While not existing still in the Middle Ages the concept of National flag as we understand it at today, the true symbol of the nationality was constituted on the Royal Shield. It was frequent the use of other different flags, full of images and symbols, that represented all the values that the troops or the King defended.
It is one of the most important flags in the history of Spain. After the marriage of Joanna of Castile (Joanna the Mad), daughter of the Catholic monarchs, with Archduke of Austria and later Philip I of Castile (Philip the Handsome), it was introduced among the Spanish flags a piece that, although of foreign origin, would later become the Hispanic symbol by antonomasia, whatever the color of cloth where it will be embroidered would be (mainly white and yellow). It is more properly called "Cruz de San Andrés" (Saint Andrew's Cross) or, "Vane of Burgundy". This was the symbol of the Archduke. Since Emperor Charles I of Spain, the different armies used the flag with the Cross of Burgundy over different fields, first incorporated to the uniforms of the Archers of Burgundy and later to the rest of the army, painted on the dresses to distinguish themselves in combat. It soon appeared also on the flags that, up to present-day, wear the regiments of Spain.
Both, the Cross of Burgundy and the blazon of the Catholic Monarchs were the first European symbols to arrive to the New World.
When the House of Habsburg took the Spanish throne by mid 16th century each military company had its own flag in which appeared usually the arms of its commander over the Cross of Burgundy. In order to represent the King, they used to have another one, the "Coronela", that was made of yellow silk (one of the colors of the Habsburg) with the embroidered imperial shield.
When Phillip II came to power, he ordered that, in addition to the flags of each company, each Tercio should have another one of yellow color with the Cross of Burgundy in red. The units of Cavalry took the same flags but of smaller size, called Banners.
However, at this time the concept of a national flag as understood nowadays did not exist, and so the true symbol of the nationality was represented by the Royal arms. It was frequent the use of other flags different from the mentioned ones, with various images or symbols. Some examples are the Flag of Santiago (Saint James the Great), the green one the own Emperor took during the conquest of Tunisia or the crimson one used by Hernán Cortés in Mexico.
The flags were organized in three groups:
]] ]] In 1760 Charles III modified the shield of the Royal arms, suppressing the necklace of the Holy Spirit, maintained the Golden Fleece and added two new quarters, corresponding to the House of Farnese (six blue lilies on gold) and Medici (blue disc with three lilies of gold and five red discs, all on gold).
The military flag or Coronela of Spanish regiments was, during the Bourbon years, the Cross of Burgundy with different additions in each military unit depending on their territorial origin, commander, etc.
When Charles III became King of Spain, he observed that most of the countries in Europe used pavilions in which predominated the white color, and, since they were frequently in war to each other, lamentable confusions took place in the sea, not being able to distinguish if the sighted ship were own or enemy until practically the last moment. for this reason, he ordered to his Minister of the Navy to present several models of flags to him, having to be visible from great distances. The Minister selected twelve sketches which showed the king. The flag that was chosen as war ensign is the direct ancestor of the current flag. It was a triband red-yellow-red, of which the yellow band was twice the width of the red bands, a unique feature that distinguished the Spanish tribanded flag from other tribanded European flags. The flag chosen as civil ensign or for Merchant Marine use, meanwhile, consisted of five stripes of yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow, in proportions 1:1:2:1:1.
The origin of the colours is a source of controversy. One of the theories claims that the red and yellow colours of the Spanish flag are based on the heraldic schemes of the Crown of Aragon. Aragonese and Catalan ships used to wear a Standard with red and yellow stripes and those heraldic schemes were very present in the Kingdom of Naples where Charles III had been king, as Charles VII, before to be the monarch of Spain in 1759. Besides that, some historians argue in the same line the fact that the coat of arms placed on the flag was reduced to the Castilian arms, so the flag would represent both kingdoms: Yellow and red for Aragon, and the castle and lion coat of arms for Castile.
Anyway the only proven fact is that it was a personal decision of the king, allegedly based only on the visibility of yellow and red on the sea. Every other theory is purely a lucubration.
The First Republic had suppressed all the royal symbols (the royal crown and the scutcheon with the dynastic arms) from the coat of arms, and although it was debated the adoption of a new tricolour flag, red, yellow and purple (the same that was finally adopted by the Second Republic on 1931), the national flag was finally not modified and it remained the same but removing the crown from the top of the shield. Most of the old flags were reused simply by cutting the crown from the coat and sewing a piece of yellow cloth on the hole.
This period of the Republic lasted until Brigadier Martínez Campos pronounced for Alfonso XII in Sagunto on December 29 1874, and the rest of the army refused to act against him. The government collapsed, leading to the end of the republic and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy with the proclamation of Alfonso XII as king.
The Republican flag was officially adopted on April 27th, and officially given to the army on May 6th. Formed by three horizontal strips of the same width, red, yellow and indigo, with the shield adopted in 1868 by the provisional Government at the center (quarterly of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre, Enté en point for Granada, stamped by a mural crown between the two Pillars of Hercules). Another newness was the smaller dimensions of this flag in its military version, of 1 m x 1 m.
Despite the emphasis given to the new flag as a symbol of the new regime, it must be noted that the bi-color flag was not the monarchic one, as demonstrated in Royal Decrees. When talking about it, it was described as "national flag", while there was a separate Royal Banner privative to the monarch whose colour, at the time of Isabella II of Spain was, curiously, indigo.
As for the addition of the indigo to represent Castile in the national flag, it has been noted that the Castilian banner was not of indigo colour, but crimson. The existing confusion about the color of the Castilian banner was born in the XIX century, when one of the multiple clandestine societies that proliferated back then, took the name from "Comuneros" and adopted the color indigo like a symbol, without having any relation with the true Comuneros which, four centuries before, had hoisted the crimson banner in Villalar, Valladolid.
The Spanish Civil War officially ended on 1 April 1939, when Francisco Franco announced the end of hostilities. The Republican regime had been defeated and Franco became the undisputed leader of Spain. He ruled Spain until his death on November 20, 1975.
At the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War, and in spite of the army's reorganization, several sections of the army continued with their bi-color flags improvised in 1936, but since 1940 new ensigns began to be distributed, whose main newness consisted in the eagle of John the Evangelist added to the shield. The new arms were allegedly inspired in the coat of arms the Catholic Monarchs adopted after the taking of Granada from the Moors, but replacing the arms of Sicily for those of Navarre and adding the Pillars of Hercules on each flank of the coat of arms. In 1938 the columns were placed outside the wings.
On July 26, 1945 the commander's ensigns were suppressed by decree, and October, 11 a detailed regulation of flags was published, that fixed the model of the bi-color flag in use, but defining better its details, emphasizing a greater style of the Saint John's eagle, until then somewhat dumpy. The models established on that decree were on force until 1977.
On this period two more flags were usually displayed together with the national flag: the flag of Spanish Falange (three vertical strips, red, black and red, being the black stripe wider than the red, and the yoke and arrows emblem in red placed on the center of the black stripe) and the Carlist flag (the Saint Andrew saltire or Cross of Burgundy red on white) as representation of the National Movement.
The National flag of Spain finally received its present day coat in December 1981.