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First official Croatian flag debuts on this day 175 years ago

First official tricolour Croatian flag debuts on this day 175 years ago

Ban Jelacic’s flag (Photo: Croatian Institute of History)

Croatia’s national flag marks its 175th anniversary this year. Evolving through the years, the flag stands as a powerful emblem of Croatian statehood, unity, and national identity.

The tricolour design, a popular choice across Europe after the French Revolution, took its distinctive form on May 2, 1848, when the Croatian newspaper Narodnih novina first proclaimed the red-white-blue order for the Croatian flag.

To create a flag that would resonate with all historical provinces of Croatia, Ban Josip Jelačić and his contemporaries embarked on a mission to incorporate the essential colours from each coat of arms of the Kingdom of Croatia. Thus, the Croatian flag emerged as a unique blend of red and white from the historic coat of arms of Croatia, complemented by the inclusion of blue from the historical coats of arms of Slavonia and Dalmatia.

The combined coats of arms, alongside the Grand Illyrian coat of arms, found their place at the centre of the flag, embodying the nation’s rich historical legacy.

The inaugural appearance of this distinctive flag occurred during the ceremony when Josip Jelačić was appointed Ban on June 5, 1848. Count Laval Nugent, who had advocated for Jelačić’s title, proudly carried the flag on this momentous occasion.

Commemorative stamps combining first official tricolour and modern Croatian flag released

Special edition stamp – depicting Ban Jelačić and the flag – released this week to honour the anniversary of the first official flag (Croatian Post)

However, the Croatian tricolour faced trials and tribulations over the subsequent centuries, enduring periods of prohibition and undergoing various transformations. Yet, its symbolic significance remained deeply rooted in the hearts of the Croatian people.

A significant chapter in the flag’s history unfolded on May 30, 1990, during the inaugural session of Croatia’s first multiparty Parliament. It was a historic moment when Jelačić’s tricolour flag stood side by side with the new Croatian flag. This act not only paid tribute to the original flag from 1848 but also emphasised the Croatian tricolour as a potent symbol of statehood, unity, and national pride.

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Croatian flag today

Today, the Croatian national flag exhibits three equal-sized horizontal stripes of red, white, and blue. Positioned at the flag’s centre, the coat of arms of Croatia stands as a striking representation of the nation’s identity and heritage.

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