The story behind the Spanish flag

Like most countries, the national flag of Spain has gone through several changes over its long and fascinating history. Its most recent – the iconic red and yellow flag known as the rojigualda – dates to the late 18th century when it was created from the flag of merchants. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century during the reign of Isabella II that it officially became the national flag.

There is an ocean-faring connection. The colours were picked by Charles III’s navy minister in 1785 after a request by the king to design a flag which could be easily distinguished, particularly when at sea. At the time, many countries used insignias on a white background which made it difficult to recognise them from long distances.

During the turbulent 19th century, there were movements to change the flag to a tricolour using red, white and blue, though the classic red and yellow survived. During the Second Spanish Republic in the 1930s, the red stripe was changed to purple which represented the Comuneros of Castile, though Franco used the original flag along with the addition of the Eagle of Saint John.  After the approval of the new coat of arms in the early 1980s, it was added to the official flag and is still the same today.