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Johnny E. Balsved


The Naval Ensign

Orlogsflaget is the name

During several hundreds of years, one of the important tasks of the Royal Danish Navy (RDN) has been the one of flying the colors.

The Naval Ensign of the RDN is in Danish called "Orlogsflaget".The naval ensign, the "Orlogsflaget"...

Only ships of the regular navy are entitled to use the naval ensign.

Navy establishments on land must use the normal swallow-tailed flag, the Dannebrog.

One should notice that the naval ensign, Orlogsflaget, has a deeper red color than the Dannebrog.

The History of the Naval Ensign

There is no historical documentation revealing when Danish Men-of-War began flying the Dannebrog.

The earliest painting showing Danish Men-of-War flying the Dannebrog, dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

It was the Danish King Christian the IVth, who issued the known rules of flying the flag and flying the Colors of Command in the navy. This was done by the Royal War Articles on May 8, 1625.

Naval Ensign and Jack

In port and being at anchor the naval ensign is flying from a flagpole aft, at the same time a smaller naval ensign are flying as a jack at the stem.

At sea the naval ensign are normally flying from a small gaff on the aft mast.

In wartime and other periods of crisis the Naval Ensign will fly around the clock.

Notice that the RDN do not strike the Naval Ensign at sunset, the ensign is lowered.

The only situation, where the Navy will strike the Naval Ensign, is when capitulating.

Colors of Command and Colors of Rank

The RDN also use a number of Colors of Command an Colors of Rank together with the Naval Ensign.

The Colors of Command indicates, not only that the person is on board, but also that this person has the formal Command; while the Colors of Rank only indicates that the person is on board the ship.

The Colors of Command are hoisted at the moment the person enter the ship, and are lowered at disembarking.

The Naval Pennant...

The most widely used Colors of Command is the Naval Pennant. This pennant is flown from the ships mast around the clock and indicate that this ship is under command, i.e. manned and equipped.

The Naval Pennant is a swallow tailed pennant, like the Naval Ensign.

The Naval Pennant and the Squadron Commander's Pennant are not lowered, if the Commander temporally leaves the ship (the Command Post).

The following Colors of Command are in use:

4The Queen's Flag

4The Queen's Pennant

4The Regent's Flag

4Defense Minister's Flag

4Chief of Defense's Flag

4Admiral's Flag

4Vice Admiral's Flag

4Rear Admiral' Flag

4Commodore's Flag

4Squadron Commander's Pennant

4Senior Officer's Pennant

4Naval Pennant

The following Colors of Rank are in use:

4Heir to the Throne's Flag

4HRH Prince Henrik's Flag

4Royal Household Flag

Listed below are the Danish Colors of Command and Colors of Rank:

Colors of Command

The Queen's Flag

The Queens Flag is the flag of the Sovereign. The present flag of the Sovereign was introduced in 1972 due to a change of the National Coat of Arms.

Salute: 27 gunshots

The Queen's Pennant

HM the Queen will fly the Queens Pennant, instead of the Queens Flag; when onboard a ship, but not wanting the grand salute.

Salute: None

The Regent's Flag

The Regents Flag is flown by that member of the Royal Family, representing HM the Queen in her absence.

Salute: 21 gunshots

Defense Minister's Flag

The Defense Minister's Flag was previously the flag of the Naval Minister.

Salute: 17 gunshots

Chief of Defense's Flag


Salute: 17 gunshots

Admiral's Flag

When an Admiral is appointed Chief of Defense; he will fly the COD's Flag.

Salute: 17 gunshots

Vice Admiral's Flag


Salute: 15 gunshots


Rear Admiral's Flag


Salute: 13 gunshots

Commodore's Flag

Squadron Commander Pennant

This Pennant flies from that ship in a naval squadron, from where the Squadron Commander is having his command post.

Salute: None

Senior Officer's Pennant

This Pennant flies from that ship in a naval formation hosting the senior commander. (Not used)

Salute: None

Naval Pennant

The Naval Pennant is flown by almost every naval ships commander.

The pennant is flying around the clock for all the time, that ship is under Command.

Salute: None

Colors of Rank


Heir to the Throne's Flag

The Heir to the Throne's Flag is flown by HRH Crown Prince Frederik.

Salute: 21 gunshots

HkH Prinsens flag

HRH Prince Henrik's  Flag

This flag was introduced in 1972 and is the for Flag for HM the Queen's husband.

Salute: 21 gunshots


Royal Household Flag

All the other members of the Royal Family is entitled to use this flag.

Salute: 21 gunshots

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Fra Flaadens arkiver - Dannebrog fra kongebanner til orlogsflag og fane, by Commander s.g. Th. Bjerre, Vaabenhistorisk Selskab, Copenhagen 1958


Om Dannebrog jeg ved..., edited by Jesper Hjermind and Kristian Melgaard, Forlaget Viborg I/S, Viborg, 1995 (ISBN 87-90281-00-4)


Rigets Flag paa batteriet Sixtus 1788 - 15.8 . 1988, by H. C. Bjerg, published by the Naval Material Command, Copenhagen, 1988


Vort flag, Forlaget Codan, Copenhagen 1943

44You are also referred to the Naval Bibliography

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or do you hold a great story?

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please e-mail me, enclosures are welcome.
Please remember to list your sources.

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This page was last updated: March 19, 2007

This page was first published: September 16, 2001

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