Blue and Yellow – Waving Sweden’s National Flag

Swedes are straightforward, nature-loving, modest – and proud to be Swedish! On your Sweden holidays you will notice that next to most of the houses and log cabins there is a flagpole with the national flag hoisted. That’s because Swedes are patriotic and are not afraid to show their love for their country to everyone!

Where does the Swedish flag come from?

The origins of the Swedish flag are not absolutely clear, but among historians the 3 most popular theories are:

  • King Eric the Holy (d. 1160) spotted a golden cross in the blue sky, assumed it was a sign from God and adapted the image for the national flag.
  • King Charles Knutsson (d. 1470) created the blue and yellow flag as a resistance flag against the Danish flag, which is red with a white cross.
  • King Gustaf Vasa (d. 1560) redesigned the previous flag, which was said to be blue with a white cross.

Evolution of the Swedish Flag

Though we might never find out who was the “creative head” behind the Swedish flag, it is certain that the Swedish flag underwent various changes until it arrived at its current design in 1906. The oldest recorded pictures of a blue flag with a golden (yellow) Scandinavian cross date from King Gustaf Vasa’s reign in the early 16th century when it was still a double-tailed flag. About 100 years later the double tail was changed into a triple tail, though this was only to be used as a military ensign and state flag.

In the 19th century, when Sweden and Norway were united under one king, a common military flag was introduced. It displayed a combination of the latter Norwegian flag and the already used Swedish flag – basically a “Union Jack” of Scandinavia. For naval purposes the flag was still triple-tailed, but for civil purposes the shape was changed into a rectangle.

After the end of the Swedish-Norwegian Union the union badge was removed from the Swedish flag and it finally was given the design we know today. The regulations implemented in 1906 not only defined the flag’s dimensions and measurements, but also determined the exact blue and yellow colouring. The colours descend from Sweden’s royal coat of arms and represent generosity (yellow) and vigilance, truth and loyalty (blue).

Swedish Flag Etiquette

Swedes are really proud of their flag and follow the flag protocols and rules correctly. Some points of “Swedish Flag Etiquette” are:

  • Never show disrespect towards the Swedish flag.
  • Never fly the Swedish flag above or beneath another national flag, as this would suggest superiority or inferiority of one nation over another.
  • Never drag the Swedish flag along the ground.
  • Replace a tattered or faded flag with a new Swedish flag.
  • Dispose of torn/faded Swedish flags in a dignified way – preferably burn it in private with all due respect.

With all this knowledge about the Swedish flag, make sure to bring a flag home as a souvenir from your trip to Sweden and treat it with respect!


(by the way, visitors to the Nature Travels website may notice some familiar colours used in the design!)

Best regards

The Nature Travels Team


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