Flag of the Netherlands: Brief Facts and Symbolism of the Dutch Flag

The flag of the Netherlands represents its history, symbols, and tradition.

But do you know what these meanings are? To understand a little more about Dutch culture, nothing better than learning about the most significant symbol of any country, its flag.

Just like many other Dutch symbols, the Netherlands flag has a rich meaning and represents peace, above all.

So today’s article will be about the Dutch flag, its weight in the history of the country, and the most important symbols of the Netherlands.

From Amsterdam to Giethoorn and Maastricht, the Netherlands is filled with charming canals, crooked houses, and windmills worth discovering.

What is the flag of the Netherlands like?

The rectangular flag of the Netherlands has the same colors as the French flag. The only difference is that on the Dutch flag the stripes are horizontal, while on the French one, they are vertical.

But the flag of the Netherlands is red, white, and blue, from top to bottom.

Flag of the Netherlands flag
Flag of the Netherlands flag

Netherlands flag: The story behind the flag

Adopted since February 19, 1937, the flag of the Netherlands has had other versions. And to understand the meaning of their colors, let’s take a trip back to the 16th-century when most Dutch provinces were under the Duke of Burgundy.

In 1568, the Dutch provinces finally rose in revolt against the Spanish. They were led by William Prince of Orange.

And for that reason, the flag representing the Dutch state was called Prince’s Flag.

Prince’s flag was similar to the one we know today, but instead of a red stripe, the first flag of the Netherlands had an orange one.

Later in 1596, the orange was replaced by the red because orange was more likely to fade out at the time.

Some also say that, in fact, the colors of the flag have changed because it would be challenging to distinguish between red and orange, especially on the high seas. 

The new flag was named Statenvlag (English: States’ Flag).

Prince's Flag, first flag of the Netherlands
Prince’s Flag, the first flag of the Netherlands

Meaning of the Dutch flag’s colors

William of Orange chose a livery in the colors orange, white, and blue to represent the arms of the ancestral territory of the House of Orange.

And although the orange stripe was replaced long ago, the Dutch still use it proudly in soccer matches, King’s Day, and festivals.

As said, the Netherlands flag has three horizontal bands of equal size in color. In top-down, red (bright vermilion), white (bright white), and blue (blue cobalt). The ratio is 2:3 (height/width).

Considered one of the Dutch maximum symbols, it is the oldest tricolor flag of the world in use.

The Netherlands flag: Exact colors

SchemeCobalt blueWhiteVermilion red
CMYK100-58-0-320-0-0-00-70-77-10
Hex triplet#0047ab#FFFFFF#e34234
Pantone286white179
RGB0-71-171255-255-255227-66-52

According to the Dutch government

Fun fact about the flag of the Netherlands

A nice fun fact about the Netherlands, or better put, about the Dutch flag, is that it has very similar colors to the Luxembourg flag.

In fact, they do have the same colors, but in different shades as the Luxembourg flag has lighters shades of red and blue.

So double-check the colors before saying the flag is Dutch or not.

Flags of the Dutch provinces

Drenthe

Flag of Drenthe, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Drenthe

Flevoland

Flag of Flevoland, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Flevoland

Friesland

Flag of Friesland, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Friesland

Gelderland

Flag of Gelderland, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Gelderland

Groningen

Flag of Groningen, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Groningen

Limburg

Flag of Limburg, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Limburg

North Brabant

Flag of North Brabant, province of the Netherlands
Flag of North Brabant

North-Holland

Flag of North-Holland, province of the Netherlands
Flag of North-Holland

Overijssel

Flag of Overijssel, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Overijssel

South Holland

Flag of South Holland, province of the Netherlands
Flag of South Holland

Utrecht

Flag of Utrecht, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Utrecht

Zeeland

Flag of Zeeland, province of the Netherlands
Flag of Zeeland

Flags of current countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Aruba

Flag of Aruba, Territory of the Netherlands
Flag of Aruba

Curaçao

Flag of Curaçao, Territory of the Netherlands
Flag of Curaçao

Sint Maarten

Flag of Sint Maarten, Territory of the Netherlands
Flag of Sint Maarten

Dutch symbols

The flag of the Netherlands is naturally the ultimate symbol of the country. Still, there are also many other symbols that represent the Dutch culture.

We’ll talk about the most famous Dutch symbols below.

Tulip

The Netherlands is the world’s largest producer of tulips. In total, the Dutch produce 4.2 billion tulip bulbs, which only half is exported.

The best place to see tons of tulips in the Netherlands is the Keukenhof Gardens.

Tulips are a Dutch symbol
Tulips are a Dutch symbol

Wooden clogs

In the early 13th-century Dutch farmers, fishermen, factory workers, and others wore wooden clogs to protect their feet.

Nowadays, only farmers use it for the same reason, but the wooden clogs still remain as a Dutch symbol.

Lion

Many Dutch provinces have a lion on their flag. The shield of the National Soccer Federation of the Netherlands (KNVB) also has one.

That’s because the lion is part of the Dutch coat of arms, which is a beautiful representation of the country.

Windmill

The Netherlands is the windmill country because these structures were widely used in the country for all kinds of work, from grinding corn to pumping water and creating electricity.

You can visit a few windmills on a day trip from Amsterdam.

Windmills next to a lake reflecting the blue sky in Zaanse Schans.
Windmills in Zaanse Schans

Bike

It’s not a surprise the bicycle is one of the symbols of the Netherlands since the growing population of 17 million people owns nothing less than 22.5 million bicycles.

Final words on the flag of the Netherlands

The Dutch have many beautiful symbols to represent their country that are part of Dutch culture and history.

Obviously, the Dutch flag is the most important of them.

Now that you know all about the Dutch flag and symbols that represent the Dutch culture, find out more about this “charming land” with our articles about the Netherlands.

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