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Flags are one of the most visible and powerful symbols of our belonging and identity. Through flags we represent ourselves as, for example, fans of a sports team, members of a local club, and nationals of a country.
Flags are central for diplomacy. They are waived on buildings of embassies and international organisations. They are waived during state visits.
On this page, you can find information on history, relevance and use of flags in diplomacy and everyday life.
Symbols are scared things, and one of the chiefs that every man holds dear is the national flag. Deep down in our nature is the strong emotions that swells the heart and brings the tear and makes us follow the flag and die round it rather than let it fall into the hands of an enemy. This is no new emotion, no growth of a few generations, but an inheritance from the ages before history began.
(Gordon WJ et al. (1915) Flags of the World, Past and Present. London: Frederick Warne.)
Humans have been going to war and killing each other under and for their flags. The worst crimes in human history were committed by perpetrators leading terrorist organisations, extremist groups, and even nations with flags in hand used as a major part of extremist propaganda.
Flags symbolize conquering new space and territory. Planting one’s flag is a symbol of presence, control, and sovereignty whether it is the US flag on the moon or the Russian flag at the Arctic seabed.
US flag on the moon (1971) Russian flag at the Arctic seabed (2007)
From our blog
Two colours blue of the French flag
17 November 2021
In 2018, France changed the blue of its national flag. The darkened blue of the Tricolore was almost unnoticeable until it was mentioned by Elit Blondet and Paul Larrouturou in their book ‘Elysee Confidential’. ...
How Afghanistan changed 30 flags in 102 years
19 August 2021
Afghanistan’s Independence Day (19 August) came only days after the Taliban seized control of capital Kabul. The entire world focused on the unfolding of events as the country fell into turmoil, following the flash ...