The flag of Sweden consists of the Scandinavian cross which extends to the edges of the flag. The cross design represents Christianity. The vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist, rather than centered.
The design is modeled on the Danish flag, while the colors have been inspired by the Coat of Arms of Sweden (back in 1442). The same coat of arms — blue divided quarterly by a cross pattee of gold – is used in present days, too. A cross pattee is a type of cross which has arms narrow in the center and broader at the edge. It dates from early Middle ages. However, the colors blue and yellow have been used by the Swedish royalty at least since 1275.
History and Mythology
According to mythology, the Swedish King Eric the Holy saw a golden cross in the sky as he landed in Finland in 1157 (during the First Swedish Crusade). As he saw this sign from God, the adopted the golden cross on a blue background as his banner. Unfortunately, there aren’t any reliable sources about the crusade , nor there is a representation of the flag until the 16th century.
The real age of the Swedish flag remains unknown. But the oldest picture of the blue background with a yellow cross on it dates from the early 16th century during the reign on King Gustaf Vasa.
By the mid 17th century, the triple-tailed flag stared to be used only as a state flag and military ensign. The merchant fleet started to use a square cut civil ensign of the state flag.
In 1848, a common military ensign was introduced for the united kingdoms of Sweden and Norway. It was identical with the military ensign , but in the canton was added a white saltire on the red background.
In 1897, a new Swedish flag was introduced. The new double-tailed flag was used by the government owned ships and buildings (excluding the military ones).
In 1905, the triple-tailed flag also became the Swedish naval jack.
Today, the King and Queen of Sweden use a royal flag with the greater national coat of arms. Other members of the Royal House use the royal flag with the lesser national coat of arms. When the King is within the realm and is upholding his duties, the royal flag with the greater national coat of arms is hoisted at the Royal Palace. When the King cannot perform his duties (due to illness, foreign travel, etc), the royal flag with the lesser national coat of arms is hoisted; while when a Regent ad interim is appointed , the plain triple-tailed flag (no coat of arms) is hoisted.
The following are official flag days in Sweden: January 1, January 28 (Namesday of the King), March 12 (Namesday of the Heiress Apparent), Easter Sunday, April 30 (King’s birthday), May 1, Pentecost, June 6 (National Day of Sweden), Midsummer Day, July 14 (Heiress Apparent’s Birthday), August (Namesday of the Queen), Election Day (second Sunday of September), October 24 (United Nations Day), November 6 (Gustavus Adolphus Day), December 10 (Alfred Nobel Day), December 23 (Queen’s Birthday) and Christmas Day.