Last modified: 2005-12-03 by ivan sache
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National flag of Luxembourg (left, in proportion 3:5; right, in proportion 1:2) - Images by António Martins, 17 May 2002, after Album des Pavillons [pay00]
Colour official specifications (Grand Duke's Regulation from 27 July 1993):
Colour approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons [pay00]):
On this page:
At the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815, when the Kingdom of the Netherlands was founded, King William I (of Orange-Nassau) also received Luxembourg as a compensation for the loss of the Nassau lands in Germany. It was placed under the Dutch Constitution, in practice becoming the 18th province. But it also became a Grand Duchy and was member of the German Confederation.
In 1830 Luxembourg participated in the Belgian revolt against the Dutch rule. In 1839 an agreement was reached, in which the western part of Luxembourg remained Belgian as the Province of Luxembourg. The eastern part returned to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but the administration of the Kingdom and Grand Duchy were separated. Until 1866 the Grand Duchy was member of the German Confederation, the loss of the Walloon part being compensated for the Germans with the Dutch part of Limburg as a Duchy.
King William III had no male successor in 1890. Luxembourg then became fully independent under the Nassau-Weilburg branch.
Mark Sensen, 17 May 2002
According to Crampton's The World of Flags
[cra90], flags in the colours of the arms (red, white and blue) were first
used in 1830 during the Belgian revolt. The flag was defined as an
horizontal tricolour flag on 12 June 1845.
The arms of Luxembourg date from the medieval times. Probably these are the arms of Limburg, diffentiated by changing the silver background into ten silver and blue stripes.
Mark Sensen, 17 May 2002
The flags of the Netherlands and of
Luxembourg (as they are known internationally) are similar, but not
the same, and it's just a coincidence, nothing to do with having any
common origin. The colours of Luxembourg are derived from the coat of
arms. Recently (amendment of 27 July 1993) the blue has been defined as 299 in the Pantone
Matching System, unlike the 286 blue in the flag of the Netherlands.
It was laid down by the same amendment that the proportions of the flag would
be 3:5 or 1:2, unlike the Dutch flag, which is always 2:3.
However, because the flags still look similar at a distance, Luxembourg has a distinct flag for use on civil vessels on the Rhine and elsewhere. It is a banner of the national arms.
William Crampton (✝), 20 March 1995
The Law prescribing the flag was adopted on 23 June 1972 and
published in the Mémorial. Journal officiel du
Grand-Duché de Luxembourg A-N51 on 16 August 1972.
On the same date was adopted a water canal transport ensign and at the same time air ensign.
The reasons why these emblems were adopted so lately are simple. Concerning the national flag there weren't any laws protecting this emblem (as well as the arms of the state and of the Great Duke), which any country in the world could have adopted as its emblems (don't forget that many states became independent at that time, especially in Africa) or which could be misused by everyone. The other reason is that UNESCO wanted to have the laws and history of the Luxembourg flag at that time. Concerning the ensign, there is the same reason of emblem protection and also the fact that this ensign was unofficially already used by canal transport crafts on the Mosel to differenciate them from the Dutch crafts. The canalisation of the Mosel in the 1960-1970s which made Dutch boats capable to go to Luxembourg, with the problem of knowing who was who, urged the governement to take measures.
People or the authorities can use (and in fact use) both 3:5 and
1:2 flags, though the 3:5 model is the more common and the 1:2 seems
to be rare.
The alternative proportions of 3:5 or 1:2 were established by the amendment of 27 July 1993.
Pascal Vagnat & Christopher Southworth, 14 February 2005
Before 1993, the blue stripe was of any shade, e.g., Flaggenbuch [neu92] shows a dark blue without ratio specification, as is to be expected.
Željko Heimer, 16 May 2002
Ensign of Luxembourg - Image by António Martins & Mark Sensen, 17 May 2002
The ensign of Luxembourg is made of ten horizontal white and blue stripes with a red lion over all. The proportions are 5:7. The name of this ensign is the rode lew (red lion). It is a banner of the lesser national arms.
The ensign was established by the Law on National Emblems of 23 June 1972. The illustrations appended to the text are just a picturial information, they are not part of the Law:
Les armoiries du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, le drapeau national et le pavillon de la batellerie et de l'aviation sont reproduits en annexe à la présente loi, le texte seul faisant foi.
Before 1990, this flag was the water canal transport ensign and at the same time the air ensign.
The Law of 9 November 1990 creating the Luxembourg public maritime register ( Loi du 9 novembre 1990 ayant pour objet la création d'un registre public maritime luxembourgeois) makes of the ensign also a sea ensign (civil, merchant, and why not state):
Les navires immatriculés au registre sont tenus d'arborer le pavillon luxembourgeois qui comme le pavillon de la batellerie et de l'aviation défini à l'article 4 de la loi du 23 juin 1972 sur les emblèmes nationaux, se compose d'une laize de tissus aux proportions de 7 à 5 comportant un burelé d'argent et d'azur de dix pièces au lion rampant de gueules, orienté vers la hampe, couronné, armé et lampassé d'or, la queue fourchue et passée en sautoir. La description du revers correspond à celle de l'avers.
Article 4 of the Law of 17 June 1994 amending the Law of 9 November 1990 (Loi du 17 juin 1994 modifiant et complétant la loi du 9 novembre 1990 ayant pour objet la création d'un registre public maritime luxembourgeois) doesn't mention at all le pavillon de batellerie et de l'aviation and mentions only le pavillon luxembourgeois, that is the ensign of Luxembourg.
In the Law of 23 September 1997 about yachting (Loi du 23 septembre 1997 portant réglementation de la navigation de plaisance et portant modification de certaines autres dispositions légales), Article 1 defines again the ensign of Luxembourg, as follows:
Pavillon luxembourgeois :
Le pavillon luxembourgeois est le pavillon tel que défini à l'article 4 de la loi modifiée du 23 juin 1972 sur les emblèmes nationaux. Il se compose d'une laize de tissus aux proportions de 7 à 5 comportant un burelé d'argent et d'azur de dix pièces au lion rampant de gueules, orienté vers la hampe, couronné, armé et lampassé d'or, la queue fourchue et passée en sautoir. La description du revers correspond à celle de l'avers.
Therefore, the ensign of Luxembourg shall be used by:
In the latter case, the proper name of the ensign is "ensign for
inland transport ships", for it was used first for these kind of
According to the Law (Article 10: Effets de l'immatriculation), yachting ships (at sea or on inland rivers) shall fly the ensign of Luxembourg.
The square version of the ensign is also the obverse of the army flag and the obverse of the Gendarmerie flag.
Pascal Vagnat, 8 March 2003
Alternative design of the ensign of Luxembourg - Image by Joe McMillan, 14 February 2005
Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00] shows the lion with a forked tail, the ends crossed in saltire.
I queried the design of this lion with Armand du Payrat, the editor of Album des Pavillons a few years ago, quoting and sending him a copy of the "Law of the National Emblems" of 27 July 1993 and accompanying illustrations which apparently amended it. Armand replied that the new designs were not liked and that the older version remained in use, however, the official website quoted above does appear to show the revised pattern.
Christopher Southworth, 14 February 2005
I went to Luxemburg
city on request of Armand du Payrat (for the Album des pavillons). A main flag
manufacturer there told me that the new version of the lion was not
liked and the former version still in use.
As said above, the illustrations of flags and coat of arms in the laws of Luxembourg haven't any official value. They are here as examples. As it is said seul le texte fait foi. That means that you can draw whatever flag or coat of arms of Luxembourg based on the text only. No matter what the lion looks like.
Pascal Vagnat, 14 February 2005It could be, of course, that the artistic representation of the lion used on the official depiction of the arms differs from that used on flags, provided that both comply with the blazon (tail forked, ends crossed in saltire, crowned, etc.). There is a photo of the merchant ensign which matches the Album 2000 lion, but shows the blue stripes much darker.
Joseph McMillan & Christopher Southworth, 14 February 2005