The national flag of Romania (Romanian: Drapelul României) is a tricolour with vertical stripes: beginning from the flagpole, blue, yellow and red. It has a width-length ratio of 2:3.
The Constitution of Romania provides that “The flag of Romania is tricolour; the colors are arranged vertically in the following order from the flagpole: blue, yellow, red”. The proportions, shades of color as well as the flag protocol were established by law in 1994 and extended in 2001.
The flag is coincidentally very similar to the civil flag of Andorra and the state flag of Chad. The similarity with Chad’s flag, which differs only in having a darker shade of blue (indigo rather than cobalt), has caused international discussion. In 2004 Chad asked the United Nations to examine the issue, but then-president of Romania Ion Iliescu announced no change would occur to the flag. The flag of Moldova is related to the Romanian tricolour, except it has a 1:2 ratio, a lighter shade of blue and the Moldavian coat of arms in the middle.
The law mentioned above specifies that the stripes of the national flag are cobalt blue, chrome yellow and vermilion red. The publication Album des pavillons nationaux et des marques distinctives (2000) suggests the following equivalents in the Pantone scale:
History and significance of the colors
Red, yellow and blue were found on late 16th century royal grants of Michael the Brave, as well as shields and banners. During the Wallachian uprising of 1821, they were present on the canvas of the revolutionaries’ flag and its fringes; for the first time a meaning was attributed to them: “Liberty (sky-blue), Justice (field yellow), Fraternity (blood red)”.
The tricolour was first adopted in Wallachia in 1834, when the reforming domnitor Alexandru II Ghica submitted naval and military colors designs for the approval of Sultan Mahmud II. The latter was a “flag with a red, blue and yellow face, also having stars and a bird’s head in the middle”. Soon, the order of colors was changed, with yellow appearing in the center.
In 1848, the flag adopted for Wallachia by the revolutionaries that year was a blue-yellow-red tricolour (with blue above, in line with the meaning “Liberty, Justice, Fraternity”). Already on 26 April, according to Gazeta de Transilvania, Romanian students in Paris were hailing the new government with a blue, gold and red national flag, “as a symbol of union between Moldavians and Muntenians”. Decree no. 1 of 14/26 June 1848 of the provisional government mentioned that “the National Flag will bear three colors: blue, yellow, red”, emblazoned with the words “DPEПTATE ФPЪЦIE” (Dreptate, Frăţie or “Justice, Fraternity”). It differed from earlier tricolors in that the blue stripe was on top, the princely monogram was eliminated from the corners, as was the crown atop the eagle at the end of the flagpole, while a motto was now present.
The 1848 Tricolour with vertical stripes
Nevertheless, decree no. 252 of 13/25 July 1848, issued because “it has not been understood how the national flags should be designed”, defined the flag as three vertical stripes, possibly influenced by the French model. The shades were “dark blue, light yellow and carmine red”; as for order, “near the wood comes blue, then yellow and then red fluttering”.
Petre Vasiliu-Năsturel observes that from a heraldic point of view, on the French as well as the revolutionary Wallachian flag, the middle stripe represents a heraldic metal (argent and or respectively), thus, the two flags could be related. Other historians believe that the tricolour was not an imitation of the French flag, instead embodying an old Romanian tradition. This theory is supported by a note from the revolutionary minister of foreign affairs to Emin Pasha: “the colors of the band that we, the leaders wear, as well as all our followers, are not of modern origin. We have had our flags since an earlier time. When we received the tricolour insignia and bands we did not follow the spirit of imitation or fashion”. The same minister assured the extraordinary envoy of the Porte, Suleiman Pasha, that the flag’s three colors had existed “for a long time; our ancestors bore them on their standard and their flags. So they are not a borrowing or an imitation from the present or a threat for the future”.
After the revolution was quelled, the old flags were restored and the revolutionaries punished for having worn the tricolour.
From 1859 until 1866, the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia had a red-yellow-blue Romanian tricolour, with horizontal stripes, as national flag. The flag was described properly in Almanahul român din 1866: “a tricolour flag, divided in three stripes, red, yellow and blue and laid out horizontally: red above, blue below and yellow in the middle”. Although the Ottoman Empire did not allow the United Principalities to have their own symbols, the new flag gained a degree of international recognition. Relating prince Cuza’s May–June 1864 journey to Constantinople, doctor Carol Davila observed: “The Romanian flag was raised on the great mast, the Sultan’s kayaks awaited us, the guard was armed, the Grand Vizier at the door… The Prince, quiet, dignified, concise in his speech, spent 20 minutes with the Sultan, who then came to review us… Once again, the Grand Vizier led the Prince to the main gate and we returned to the Europe Palace, the Romanian flag still fluttering on the mast…”.
Article 124 of the 1866 Constitution of Romania provided that “the colors of the United Principalities will be Blue, Yellow and Red”. The order and placement of the colors were decided by the Assembly of Deputies in its session of 26 March 1867. Thus, following a proposal by Nicolae Golescu, they were placed just as in 1848: vertically and in the following order: blue hoist, yellow in the middle and red fly. The country’s coat of arms was placed only on army and princely flags, in the center; civilian flags remained without a coat of arms. The same distinction was made between flags of the Navy and those of the civil and merchant ships.
The rapporteur Mihail Kogălniceanu, who also conveyed the opinion of Cezar Bolliac, Dimitrie Brătianu, Constantin Grigorescu, Ion Leca, Nicolae Golescu and Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, said: “The tricolour flag as it is today is not (as the minister claims) the flag of the United Principalities. It is much more: it is itself the flag of the Romanian nation in all lands inhabited by Romanians”.
The “Law for modifying the country’s arms” of 11/23 March 1872 did not change these provisions, only the design of the coat of arms. This design of the national flag lasted until 1948.
On 30 December 1947, Romania was proclaimed a people’s republic and all the ex-kingdom’s symbols were outlawed, including the coat of arms and the tricolour flags that showed it. During the communist era in Romania, the state flag had the emblem of the country in the middle of the yellow stripe, and for the first time the 2:3 proportion was regulated by law. Until 1989, no less than four coat of arms were changed.
Starting on 17 December 1989, during the revolution at Timişoara, the coat of arms of the Romanian Socialist Republic began to be ripped off the flags, being perceived as a symbol of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s dictatorial regime. These flags were called “the flag with the hole”.
Decree-Law no. 2 of 27 December 1989 regarding the membership, organization and functioning of the Council of the National Salvation Front and of the territorial councils of the National Salvation Front. provided at article 1, among other matters, that “the national flag is the traditional tricolour of Romania, with the colors laid out vertically, in the following order, starting from the flagpole: blue, yellow, red”.
Law no. 75/1994 establishes the protocol for the flag of Romania. Its provisions are extended by the Governmental Decision no. 1157/2001 which approves the Regulations regarding the display of the Romanian flag, the singing of the national anthem and the use of insignia containing the Romanian coat of arms. Protocol for military flags and standards is fixed by internal regulation. The law contains the following provisions:
The flag of Romania is always to be hoisted on the buildings and in the headquarters of public authorities and institutions, at the headquarters of political parties, unions, of educational and cultural institutions, on border crossings and in international airports. As ensign, it is permanently hoisted on ships of any kind and other vessels that navigate under the Romanian flag. According to customary protocol, the flag of Romania is hoisted at the headquarters of diplomatic missions and consular offices of Romania, as well as at the residences of the chiefs of diplomatic missions and consular offices. Likewise, the flag of Romania is used as a standard on vehicles transporting chiefs of Romanian diplomatic missions and consular offices, in their official travels, according to the same customs.
Temporarily, on the national day of Romania and other national holidays, the flag of Romania may be hoisted in public places decided upon by the local authorities; and for official festivals and ceremonies with a local, national and international character, in the locations where these take place. Likewise, it must be raised for official visits undertaken in Romania by heads of state and of government, as well as by high political personalities representing the principal international intergovernmental bodies, at airports, rail stations, ports and on their various routes. The flag is also hoisted at sporting competitions, at stadiums and other sporting grounds, and during election campaigns, at the headquarters of electoral commissions and polling stations. During military ceremonies, the flag is hoisted according to military regulations.
The flag of Romania may be raised without restrictions by individuals at their domicile or residence, or by legal entities at their headquarters.
The Government is the only official body that fixes days of national mourning, on which the flag of Romania is lowered at half-staff.
The flags of other states may be hoisted on Romanian territory only together with the national flag and only on the occasion of visits with an official state character, international festivities and meetings, on official buildings and in public places specified in Law no. 75/1994. In such cases, the flag of Romania is hoisted in the place of honor, that is in the center, if the number of flags is odd, or to the right of the flag with which it occupies the center if the number of flags is even. In such cases, all flags must have the same dimensions (but not proportions, which are fixed by each respective country).
The flag of the European Union is raised next to the flag of Romania, to the left of the latter.
The raising of the flag of Romania at events that take place under the aegis of international organizations is done according to international regulations and customs.
Military colors without coat of arms and weapon signs in the corners. During the march, the color bearer salutes by bowing the military colors at 45 degrees, regardless the person.
The military colors are removed from its display case for the solemn occasion of its presentation, at the ceremony for taking the military oath, at parades of troops and reviews on the front, at the giving or taking of command by the respective unit, at the granting of military honors during military funerals, or on other occasions if required.
When in formation and standing, the color bearer keeps the military colors near his foot, holding his right hand down on the rod and his left hand on the rod, at his chest level. The rod's low end must be in front of his right foot. When saluting from this position, the military colors are bowed at horizontal for the Romanian President and other heads of state and at 45 degrees for the other civil and military staff. When marching, the color bearer holds the military colors vertically. If the unit is walking more than 100 m, the rod is introduced inside the scarf's muff. When traveling by vehicle, the color bearer with the military color stands inside the unit commander's car. During the march, the color bearer salutes by bowing the military colors at 45 degrees, regardless the person. When two military units cross each other (either one or both of them are marching in formation) the military colors are bowed for salute at 45 degrees. In case of raining, snowing or strong winds, the military colors are protected by a transparent plastic cover.
The ensign of a Navy vessel must be raised daily on the stern flagpole at 8 a.m., and on holidays at 9 a.m. If the vessel is in motion, the ensign remains raised permanently where the boom meets the mast. Usually, the hoisting of a vessel’s ensign takes place in the presence of the entire crew, which is not the case at the lowering, daily at sunset.
According to Governmental Decision no. 1157/2001, which details the rules of hoisting the flag of Romania, the citizens must show respect to the Romanian flag and never offend it.
The hoisting of a Romanian flag of another shape, dimension, model or color than those regulated by law, or having an improper condition, is a contravention and is punishable with a fine of between 500 and 1500 lei.
Not raising the national flag by public authorities and institutions, or in the mandatory situations stated by the law, the improper hoisting of the flag and the hoisting of the flag of another country outside the situations regulated by law, or with improper dimensions, represents contravention and is punishable with a fine of between 2500 and 5000 lei.
The contraventions are ascertained and sanctioned by mandataries of the Minister of Public Administration, by the Prefect or his mandataries, and are applied to the director of the public authority or institution, to the mayor, to the President of the county's council, or to the private individual or juridical person that committed the contraventions.
As of 2008, the article 236 of the Penal Code of Romania states that any display of contempt against the symbols of Romania is punishable by detention between 6 months and 3 years in prison. The article 344 of the same Penal Code rules that, in times of war, lowering the vessel's ensign during a battle in order to serve the enemy's cause is punishable by life in prison or detention between 15 and 25 years in prison and civil restraints.
Law no. 96 of 20 May 1998 proclaimed 26 June as the Day of the National Flag of Romania. It was on this day in 1848 that Decree no. 1 of the Wallachian Provisional Government was issued, making the red-yellow-blue tricolour the national flag.
On Flag Day, public authorities and other state institutions are obliged by law to organize cultural/educational programs and events, with a patriotic or scientific character, devoted to Romanian history, as well as specific military ceremonies, organized within units of the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of the Internal Affairs.
Other official flags of Romania
The publication “Album des pavillons nationaux et des marques distinctives” (2000) indicates that the flag of the President of Romania is a square tricolour with a white edge and a blue border. It is decorated on all sides with fringes of golden thread and, in the corners, tassels of the same material. The flag of the Prime Minister is similar to the one of the President, except that its border is yellow and it lacks fringes and tassels. The flag of the Minister of National Defense is almost identical to its interwar predecessor, being a square tricolour with the letter M written in white in the middle of the blue stripe. The Pilot ensign represents the national flag with a thick white border.
Military colors and ensigns
According to the Romanian General Staff, “The military colors are the symbol of military honor, bravery and glory. They evoke the past struggle of the Romanian people for national liberty and the traditions of unity, reminding each soldier of his sacred duty to serve the Fatherland with trust, and to defend at all costs the unity, sovereignty and independence of Romania”.
The military colors are granted to military units by presidential decree, on the advice of the Minister of National Defense, the Minister of Internal Affairs or the director of the Romanian Intelligence Service. According to the Ministry of National Defense, the complete description of this military insignia is as follows:
The military colors of Romania are made of double silk cloth and have dimensions of 100 × 66 cm (2:3 ratio). The canvas has the colors of the Romanian flag and its obverse is identical with the reverse. The national coat of arms, measuring 29 × 21.5 cm, is applied in the middle of the yellow stripe, 18 cm above its base. In each corner, 5 cm from the edge of the canvas, is sewed a wreath of oak leaves, which surrounds the weapon signs, all of golden thread:
* two crossed swords for land forces
* a helicopter blade juxtaposed over a pair of wings in downward flight, a radar and a crossed rocket and telescope for aerial forces
* an anchor for naval forces.
* the letter J in a rhombus over two crossed swords for gendarmerie units
* the emblem of the Romanian Intelligence Service for its units
The three sides of the flag not attached to the pole are decorated with fringes of golden thread (5–7 cm long) and tassels of the same material (10–12 cm long) hang from the corners of the fly. The flag is attached to the pole by an antioxidant metal rod 70 cm long.
The pole, of brown wood, is 240 cm high and 3.5 cm in diameter. A brass cylinder is at the base, 4 cm long and closed on the bottom. The rod is attached to the pole by a brass ring, gilt on its lower part, and a 6 cm high cylindrical protective tube of the same material and gilt on its upper part. The ring (3.2 cm high) is inscribed with the name of the unit. Another brass cylinder is placed on the tip of the pole, 6 cm long and of brass. The eagle, of gilt copper, sheet, 15 cm high and 11.5 cm wide, is placed over this. Looking rightward, the eagle’s wings are pointed downward and it holds the thunderbolts of Jupiter in its talons. It is placed on a parallelepipedic support of the same metal (10 × 3.5 × 2 cm), which has a 3.4 cm high ornament on its lower part. The support is screwed onto the brass cylinder and has inscribed into the front the motto “Onoare şi Patrie” (“Honor and Fatherland”). The name of the respective unit is engraved into the reverse.
Other features of the military colors are a tie for attaching decorations, six sashes for the troops in the flag’s guard and a protective cover of impermeable fabric.
The military colors of navy vessels are identical to their ensign. The ensign is in turn identical to the national flag, being made of ordinary canvas in various dimensions, according to the ship’s rank, size and place of hoisting.
At the beginning of the 2000s, four identifying flags were selected for the armed forces:
* The flag of the General Staff is light yellow. One side shows the coat of arms of the General Staff and four gold stars, with the symbols of the General Staff and the land, naval and air forces in the corners. On the reverse are the Prophet Elijah, the Virgin Mary and Saint George, patrons of the air force, navy and land forces respectively.
* The flag of the General Staff of the Land Forces is red. One side shows the coat of arms of the Staff, four gold stars, and the symbol of the land forces in the corners. The reverse depicts Saint George.
* The flag of the General Staff of the Air Force is light blue. One side shows the coat of arms of the Staff, four gold stars, and the symbol of the air force in the corners. The reverse depicts the Prophet Elijah.
* The flag of the General Staff of the Navy is sea blue. One side shows the coat of arms of the Staff, four gold stars, and the symbol of the navy in the corners. The reverse depicts the Virgin Mary.
Naval jack and rank flags
Between 1995 and 1998, the Romanian naval jack was similar to the rank flags of Navy officers. Afterward, it was replaced with a 1:1 national flag with two crossed white anchors in the center of the blue stripe, similarly to the naval jack used between 1966 and 1989.
The standard of the Chief of the General Staff is a square Romanian tricolour with four white stars, one beneath the other, in the center of the blue stripe. It can be used both as car standard or as rank flag on Navy vessels.
The ships’ pennant is a horizontal piece of canvas in the shape of an isosceles triangle, with a 1:10 ratio, on which is printed the Romanian national tricolour.
The “Album des pavillons nationaux et des marques distinctives” (2000) also depicts the rank flags of navy officers. These flags indicate that a commanding or leadership officer is on board. But one exception, they are rectangular light blue 2:3 canvases, on which are found a blue anchor, the Romanian flag in the canton and a number of five-pointed yellow stars, according to rank: four for the Chief of the Naval Forces Staff, three for the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, two for fleet or flotilla Commander and one for a major Naval unit Commander. The flag of a regular Navy unit Commander is, by exception, triangular and it lacks stars.
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