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Last modified: 2020-10-24 by christopher oehler
Keywords: denmark | scandinavian cross | dannebrog | danmark | splitflag |
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[Flag of Denmark] 28:37
image by Željko Heimer and António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 April 2016

See also:

Dimensions of the flag

National flag: The proportions of the cross should be horizontally from hoist to the tail 12/4/21, and vertically 12/4/12.

State flag: The proportions of the flag with a swallow-tail are 24 : 8 : 30 : 45 horizontally and 24 : 4 : 24 vertically.
Mark Sensen and James Dignan, 25 September 1995, Victor Lomantsov, 16 December 2000, Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 6 January 2001

The proportions of the "Dannebrog" are so because Danish flag law prescribes the relative widths of each block of color, including the fimbriations, and when you add all the pieces together you get those numbers.
John Ayer, 5 February 1998

The dimensions of the square is usually given as one fifth by one quarter of the height of the flag pole. However, the official decree on the flags of trade ships from 1748 is that the white cross be 1/7 of the height of the flag, the rear fields be square, and the two other fields be 6/4 of the length of the rear fields. There was a tendency to make the flag longer, and in 1893 the Ministry of the Interior stated that due to usage, no objections could be made as long as the front fields where less than 7/4 of the rear ones.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 June 2001

The proportions of the flag were 28:34 from 1748 - 1893. The modern flag has proportions of 28:37.
Christopher Southworth, 12 November 2003

In 1893, it was pointed out that no charges were to be pressed if the flag had proportions longer than 28:34, but not longer than 28:37.
Ole Andersen, 13 November 2003

The 1939 Flaggenbuch has an interesting apparent anomaly. The "Danebrog" (listed therein as the merchant flag) was shown in 1939 with its 1748 vintage proportions (14:17) and construction details, which seems to prove (given the means by which the flag information that appeared in it was collected) that Danish officialdom still regarded the revised proportions of 1893 (28:37) as a permitted variation only.
Christopher Southworth, 2 June 2017

Construction Sheet

[Denmark - construction sheet] by Željko Heimer

The length of the national flag was originally specified in 1748, and respecified in 1893, although at that time the older version was not cancelled.

1893 regulations

[Denmark - construction sheet] by Željko Heimer

1748 regulations

[Denmark - construction sheet] by Željko Heimer

The Regulations of 1 May 1893 set the proportions at a maximum of 28:37, but did not cancel or replace the proportions of 28:34 set on 11 July 1748.
Christopher Southworth, 25 May 2004

Flag colours

Unofficial PMS matches recommended by the Denmark-Samfundet, a private society promoting use of the flag:

  • National flag (rectangular flag): Red: 185U
  • War ensign (swallow tailed flag of the navy): Red 193U
Jan Oskar Engene, 10 June 1998

I prefer the PMS 186C or PMS 485, as I like it more dark. We prefer to say that the color of the flag is the same as our mailboxes, and that color is bright red in the more dark end. The Hex numbers are: PMS 485 = #D81E05, PMS 186 = #CE1126
Lisbeth Stilling, flagmaker, Denmark, 12 April 2006

The two different red shades are approximated as Pantone 185c (for "land" use) and 195c (for naval use). As far as I can see, the dark red is used only by the flags used by the Navy - other maritime flags are of the "normal" red shade. That would mean that there are in fact two variants of some flags.
Željko Heimer, 10 June 2001

What colour (pantone if any) does the red colour in the Danish flag have? This question is answered at with a quote from Om Dannebrog jeg ved (2 ed. 1996):

Trods en endnu manglende flaglov har man to røde farver i nationalflaget, nemlig en mørkere rød farve i orlogsflaget, benaevnt orlogsrødt, der kun brug es ombord i orlogs- og statsskibene, og en lysere variant i splitflag og de firkantede stutflag, benœvnt flagrødt. Farverne benaevnes ogsaa orlogsrødt og dannebrogsrødt. Marinens anlaeg i land bruger ikke den saakaldte orlogsrøde farve, den er kun til brug ombord i skibene.
(Which more or less translates as:)
In spite of the lack of a flag law there are two red colours in the national flag, to wit a darker red colour in the naval flag, called "orlogsrødt" (naval red), which is only used on board of naval or state ships, and a lighter version in the "splitflag" (swallow-tailed flag) and the square (rectangular) "stutflag" (procession flag ), called "flagrødt" (flag red). The colors are also indicated as "orlogsrødt" and "dannebrogsrødt" (Dannebrog red). Naval sites on land don't use this naval red colour, which is only for use aboard ships.

Danmarksbog mentions that "It became customary for the State also to fly the swallow-tailed flag ashore." This suggest that you shouldn't automatically assume a naval context for the state flags. What's more, it shows only the Naval flag and the Admiral's Standard as dark, whereas the National flag, the State flag, the Royal standard, the Crown Prince's standard, the Regent's standard, the Chief of Defence's standard, the DSB flag, the postal flag, the flag for State vessels, and the revenue flag are all shown as light.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 June 2001

In Danish, procession flags are not really flags. We use 'flag' about cloth flown from flag poles or masts, and 'fane' about procession flags or military (or other) colours. But some of the cloth that we fly from flag poles are pennants, and they are not really flags either. We use the term 'vimpel'. In some naval contexts, 'stander' is used instead of 'vimpel'. A 'stander' is usually shorter than a 'vimpel'. Now, some of our 'flag' (plural = singular) are swallow-tailed, 'splitflag'. If they are rectangular instead, we use the term 'stutflag'.
Ole Andersen, 24 June 2001

Speaking of which – isn't it about to time to have this flag and its derivate images properly recolored in FIAV "R" red / FotW RGB:255-0-0, as there's nothing in this flag's use or legal prescription warranting the odball hue of our image which is given above as a mere whim…?
António Martins-Tuválkin, 16 March 2016

You mean, 204-0-0 i.e. R+? The colors listed at <dk.html#colr> look more like that, or even like 204-0-51 - try the color finder at Pantone website.
Tomislav Todorović, 17 March 2016

No, I mean R (RGB:255-0-0) for the civil flag and its derivatives, and R+ (RGB:204-0-0) for the state flag and its derivatives.
The colors listed above are, as I said (and that's the crux of the issue), a mere whim from a fly-by contributor. The former editor grabbed that and hurried to change this image, and then some FotWers chose to show their disagreement by keeping quiet about it and go on giffing other Danish flags using regular R and R+. This was ten years ago shy of two months – it's about time to return to standard.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 March 2016

If we were trying to do it all by ourselves, absolutely, but I was speaking about the Pantone website.
Since the palette is their product, doesn't it make sense to rely on RGB values they give there? Although I agree, those colors do look too dark for the flag of Denmark. Well, if anyone decides to repaint the images of all variants of Dannebrog, as well as all derived flags, into the color R, I won't be protesting.
Tomislav Todorović, 17 March 2016

There are indeed two different shades of red on Danish flags. There is the normal shade (I believe: Danebrogs rød) and a darker slightly brownish shade (orlogs rød). The latter is exclusively used by Danish vessels of the Navy afloat, the other in any other cases. As far as I know, even a warship (Danish: orlogsskib) flies orlogs rød afloat but Danebrogs rød ashore (when harboured).
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 18 March 2016

National flag at the London 2012 Olympics

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be.
For Denmark: PMS 485 red. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

Name of the flag

The Danish flag is called "Dannebrog", [which is] old Danish for "The Danish Cloth".
Martin Hawkins, 10 January 1999

As with many etymological questions, we have in fact two explanations for the origin of this term, and cannot know which is more correct. The Danish encyclopaedia says:

Navnet på det danske flag, Dannebrog, der betyder 'danernes fane' eller 'rødfarvet fane', forekommer første gang i en dansk tekst 1478 og i en nederlandsk tekst 100 år før; i den nederlandske våbenbog Gelre fra 1370-86 ses en rød fane med hvidt kors ved våbenet for Valdemar 4. Atterdag.
(Den Store Danske Encyklopœdi, vol. 4, p. 453-4)

[The name of the Danish flag, Dannebrog, meaning 'banner of the Danes' or 'red banner', occurs first in a Danish text 1478 and in a Dutch text 100 years before; in the Dutch armorial Gelre (1370-86) a red banner with a white cross is seen next to the arms of Valdemar 4. 'Atterdag'.]
Ole Andersen, 21 April 2001