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Orange Free State (South Africa)

Oranje Vrijstaat (Suid Afrika)

Last modified: 2006-09-30 by bruce berry
Keywords: south africa | orange free state | orange river colony |
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[Orange Free State (South Africa)] image by Herman de Wael, 24 Feb 1998

See also:

Orange Free State (1854- 1902)

The flag of the Orange Free State (OFS) was designed in 1856 by King William III of the Netherlands, on request of the OFS Volksraad (parliament). It is said to represent the bonds between the OFS and the Netherlands, and it's royal house (of Orange). Carr goes on to say that some claim the three orange stripes were a reference to William the Third of Orange being the designer.
I think that the fact that the country was named after the Orange River (itself named after the Dutch royal house) must have had a bearing and that the canton and stripes design is likely a reference to the Stars and Stripes, which inspired other "new" nations' flags in this period (e.g. Greece, El Salvador)
Roy Stilling, 11 Oct 1996

This flag was registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry as the flag of the Republic of Orange Free State for the Office of the Prime Minister, together with the flag of the South African Republic, on 30 April 1983 (application 08 January 1982, amendment 05 March 1982). Certificates were issued for both in Afrikaans on 14 October 1983.
The text in English for the flag Republic of Orange Free State reads as follows:
A rectangular flag proportions three by two, consisting of seven horizontal stripes of equal width alternately white and orange and a canton of three stripes, red, white and blue in the proportions four by three.
Source: "Some South African Flags, 1940-1990" compiled by F.G. Brownell, the State Herald, June 1991. (SAVA Journal 1/92) [brl92].
Mark Sensen, 08 Mar 1999

Orange River Colony (1902-1910)

[Orange River Colony (South Africa)] image by Mark Sensen, 08 Mar 1999

Were any British Ensigns in use in South Africa pre-1910? What were the flags of the Cape Colony and Natal? Did the Boer states retain their "native" flags under British control?
Josh Fruhlinger, 01 Oct 1996

Yes - SAVA published a Journal entitled "The Union Jack over Southern and Central Africa, 1795 - 1994" in 1994 [brl94] which covers all these flags (and those used in what is now Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi etc).
Orange River Colony flew a Blue Ensign with badge in the fly between 1904 - 1910.
Bruce Berry, 07 Oct 1996

Notes from the Public Records Office (Kew):
Regarding draft of Seal of the Orange River Colony (on which the flag badge was based) - A distinctive stripe does not appear on the flank of the springbok and in view of the importance attached in the Colony to correct representation of the animal I am to request that the picture of it in Mr G.Millais' book "A Breath from the Veldt" may be closely followed.
David Prothero, 21 Mar 2005

OFS Coat of Arms 

[Orange Free State coat of arms] image from Mike Oettle's website.

The actual arms of the Orange Free State republic were quite different, as you'll see at my website.
Arms taken into use on 23 February 1857, the third anniversary of the Oranje Vrij Staat. The blazon, as quoted by F G Brownell, reads:
Arms: On a shield Argent, between three bugle horns Azure, garnished and stringed Gules, a representation of the seal of the Orange Free State Republic as adopted in 1856, viz. on a white roundel, in chief a tree on an island, between dexter, three sheep and sinister, a natural lion supporting the tree with his dexter paw, in base a Voortrekker wagon on an island all proper; on a ribbon draped fesswise, the motto GEDULD EN MOED, above the tree the word VRYHEID and below the wagon the word IMMIGRATIE; behind the shield on two staves in saltire with ball and spear point Or, two flags of the same Republic draped on both sides, each with seven stripes visible, alternately white and orange and a canton of three stripes, red, white and blue.

The story of how the OFS got its odd concoction of a coat of arms was especially interesting to me, since it involved a tricky situation that my ancestor President Boshof had to deal with.

You'll see on my page an illustration of one of the drafts put forward to the Dutch king for his grant to the Boer republic. I hope to have a second illustration, of a rather different draft design, on the page early next year.
Mike Oettle, 14 Dec 2001

OFS spurious Coat of Arms

[Orange Free State coat of arms]  reported by Victor Lomantsov, 26 Dec 2000

I found interesting Coat of Arms for the  Orange Free State. Why the flags which decorated the shield are 'Vierkleur' of South African Republic? Why not Orange striped Flags?
Victor Lomantsov, 26 Dec 2000

That's a curious coat of arms you illustrate for the Oranje Vrijstaat. It's certainly irregular, and it seems to me to have been concocted by some European supporter of the Boer republics during the South African War.

I did try to find the website where the odd illustration came from, but the URL seems to have changed or been cancelled.
Mike Oettle, 14 Dec 2001