Denmark's existence as an independent kingdom dates from the 8th century, and the Danish monarchy is the oldest in Europe. The current monarch, Queen Margrethe II, traces her lineage back to Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth, 10th-century Viking kings of Denmark and Norway. At various times Denmark has controlled, in addition to Jutland and the adjacent Baltic islands that constitute the modern kingdom, parts of southern Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, territories in northern Germany and portions of the Baltic States. The country's strategic position between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea involved it in many conflicts and wars over the centuries

From 1397 to 1523 Sweden was part of the Kalmar Union, a personal union of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (which at the time included most of present-day Finland) under a single monarch. The Union also embraced Norway's overseas possessions: Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Northern Isles (the Orkney and Shetland Islands) and some German territories south of Denmark. The Union came to an end in 1523 when Sweden became independent under King Gustav V. However, Denmark and Norway remained in personal union under the Danish crown; the latter enjoyed considerable autonomy, with its own laws, coinage and army. The personal union was dissolved in 1814, Norway being detached from the Danish crown and handed over to Sweden in compensation for the latter's loss of Finland to Russia. However, Denmark retained control of the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Iceland became independent in 1944, but the other two remain linked to Denmark as self-governing autonomous territories.

See also The Scandinavian Cross.




State Banner circa 1400


Royal Banner circa 1400


Banner of the Kalmar Union  •  1397-1523


Merchant Ensign  •  circa 1700 


Merchant Ensign  •  1808-14 

The Dannebrog (Danish Banner) is the oldest national flag in current use. Its design dates, probably, from the thirteenth century and it has served as the national flag of Denmark since the sixteenth century. According to legend, it was sent down from Heaven to the Danish Army at a critical moment of  the
Battle of Lyndanisse (Estonia, 15 June 1219). The earliest version of the Dannebrog for which documentary evidence exists dates from the late fourteenth century: a rectangular red banner, longer on the hoist than on the fly, with a broad white cross. This was apparently employed as a flag of state. Denmark's other national symbol, the coat of arms displaying three crowned lions, blue on a golden yellow field strewn with red hearts, was the personal banner of the monarch.
By the seventeenth century the Dannebrog had assumed its current form (see below), though contemporary flag charts sometimes showed the cross with its vertical arm centered—identical to the flags of Savoy and the Knights of Malta. For that reason a Dannebrog with the Royal Cypher on a white panel was required of Danish ships sailing the Mediterranean. The Dannebrog was considered a royal flag and in sharp contrast to modern custom, its use by private persons was severely restricted. An 1834 law, for instance banned its use by ordinary subjects.
The flag of the Kalmar Union, "the Banner of the Realms" is described in letters of King Eric of Pomerania, circa 1430, as a red cross on a yellow field. In modern times it has been revived as the Norden Flag, unofficially symbolizing the ethnic and cultural ties among the Scandinavian countries.




National Flag & Civil Ensign


State Flag & Ensign


Postal Flag


Danish State Railways


Yacht Ensign  •  Royal Danish Yacht Club


Nordanna Line




Flag of the Queen of Denmark


Flag of the Crown Prince of Denmark


Flag of the Regent of Denmark 


Flag for Other Members of the Royal Family 

Today, the rectangular Dannebrog is very much the possession of the people. There are few official restrictions on its use by private persons or organizations and it is widely flown. The Dannebrog is, indeed, something of a cultural icon: Miniature versions are used to decorate Christmas trees, birthday cakes and the like, it appears on packaging to indicate the Danish origin of products, etc. Like the Stars & Stripes in the United States, it is a popular symbol and expression of national identity.
It was in Denmark that the custom of using a a forked or swallowtailed variant of the national flag for official purposes developed. The Danish Splittflag originated as a royal banner and later became the Danish war ensign. By the nineteenth century it was being used by all departments of the Danish government, military and civil, often with a distinctive badge in the canton. (Versions used by the Royal Danish Navy are made in a darker shade of red.) The Splittflag may also be flown with permission by private yachts, often with a yacht club badge in the canton. Most Danish merchant shipping companies have a distinctive "house flag" and some incorporate the Dannebrog. That of the Nordanna Line, for example, displays the Splittflag on a dark blue field.
Current royal flags are also based on the Splittflag, and there are several variants. That for the monarch displays the her personal coat of arms, that of the crown prince displays the Danish state arms, that for the Regent (acting on behalf of the monarch when she is indisposed or out of the country) bears the emblems of royal authority (crown, scepter, sword and orb), and that for other members of the royal family the crown only.




Faroe Islands







The two autonomous territories of the Danish Kingdom have official flags. That of the Faroe Islands is of the Scandinavian Cross pattern, while that of Greenland preserves the Danish colors in a unique form. The official administrative Regions of Denmark also have flags, none of which are of particular vexillogical interest; they have solid-color fields with the name of the region applied and perhaps a corporate-style logo. Additionally there are a number of unofficial regional flags, mostly of the Scandinavian cross pattern. Bornholm is a Baltic island, east of Denmark; Vendsyssel is the northernmost district of Jutland. Most Danish municipalities have official coats of arms but few if any have flags.