When you glance at them for the first time, the Dutch and the Luxembourgian flag are virtually indistinguishable. But why do they look so similar and how can you tell them apart?
Similarities and differences
Obviously, both flags share the same layout and, roughly, the same colors. Therefore, they feature a band of red at the top, a band of white in the middle and a blue one at the bottom. However, closer inspection reveals that the shades of those colors are different, as the flag of Luxembourg features a lighter shade compared to that of the Dutch flag; more specifically, both the red and the blue stripes are darker on the latter. In addition, their configuration is dissimilar: the flag of Luxembourg features a 3:5 or 1:2 proportion, while the Netherlands have opted for a 2:3 ratio.
As for the flag of the Netherlands, the red band stands for bravery, strength and valor, the white one denotes peace and honesty and the blue band portrays loyalty, justice and vigilance. However, the colors on the Luxembourgian flag are believed to originate from the 13th century coat of arms of Grand Duke Henry IV, which featured a red lion wearing a golden crown against a blue and white stripes backdrop.
Who copied who?
The striking similarities still beg the question: which one came out first and which nation copied the other? Well, the answer is not exactly an intriguing one: As it turns out, the Dutch flag appeared much earlier, while the resemblance is purely coincidental. In fact, in its original incarnation, the flag of the Netherlands featured orange, blue and white (the colors adopted by Prince William of Orange). Only later, in the mid 20th century, were red, white and blue declared the official colors of the Dutch flag.
On the other hand, the flag of Luxembourg followed an independent route. As a matter of fact, Luxembourg had no flag until 1830; at that time, the national colors began to appear, which ultimately led to the tricolor flag incorporating the red, white and blue horizontal bars being formed in mid 19th century. Weirdly enough, it was only one and a half century later that this specific layout was officially adopted by the state of Luxembourg, in 1972.
- The striking similarities between the two flags sprung a controversial debate in Luxembourg so that a new pattern would replace the existing one. In 2006, a new red lion ensign was proposed, and with the idea seemingly catching on, a petition was held, but the poor response by the public meant that the plan was finally abandoned for good.
- As mentioned above, the Luxembourgian flag wasn’t officially adopted until 1972. However, the law regulating the flag’s arrangement and colors was not passed until 1993! Among other provisions, this particular law lays down the details pertaining the blue band: it should be a bright blue color, in an effort to differentiate it from the Dutch flag.
- The flag of the Netherlands is probably the oldest tricolor in the world. Throughout the world, many nations took inspiration from the Dutch flag, more notably, the French flag. The Dutch flag has also influenced the Russian one and, in turn, many Eastern European flags.
- In the Netherlands, the flag is typically flown at government buildings and military bases at all times. Citizens are also allowed to fly it, although most practically elect to do so mainly on national holidays. Sometimes, an orange pennant is added above the actual flag, paying tribute to the original orange-white-blue color scheme.