Gold braid around National flags.

Hello good people,
A quick question if I may,
what’s the significance of gold thread/braid around the edges of national and regimental flags?
As a second quickie is the Danish flag really the oldest national flag? My Danish friend was a little into her seasonal cups and very insistent about this!


The gold fringe is a purely decorative addition to some ceremonial flags and has no legal significance.

And as the Dannebrog is traditionally associated with Constantine’s vision of the Cross, it can be considered the oldest currently used national flag.

Thanks Dr.,
I’m chary of ‘traditionally associated’ assurances, any slightly more current cites please?
As to the first question is the braiding mentioned in law anywhere or is it just taken as ceremonial?

I think that what is being pointed out here is that there is nothing official about the fringe on the flag-it’s only significance is that it is decorative.

Chary/Wary about the origin of the Danish flag,

The official regulations concerning flag fringe (warning PDF) from the government:

edited to add: the footnote for this paragraph was “34 Op. Atty. Gen. 483”

So a fringe is just a fringe non?
Still curious about other Countries as I’m sure the decoration precedes the US.

Are you asking if having a fringe on any flag has ever had any political significance in the past?

Yes, the fringe is just a fringe and has no significance other than looking pretty. At least in the US, as you note, this may be different somewhere else.

Unless you are a conspiracy theorist:

Just to be clear, the idea that the gold fringe has some legal meaning is total nonsense.

The Raven banner used by the Vikings is traditionally depicted with a fringe.

Certainly seeing a Raven Banner coming at you is “traditionally associated” with trouble.

As for the Danish flag, all pieces of record that reference it are from after it was already in existence. According to vexillology site Flags of the World, quoting the Danish Encyclopaedia, the earliest Danish reference is from 1478 and there’s a reference from the late 1300s Dutch Armorial as the banner of King Waldemar (see also here).

Well, it would have been a good trick to reference it any time before it was in existence, eh?

The strikingly recognizable Japanese flag - which the Japanese refer to as the “sun mark flag” or “circle of the sun” - has been the country’s official flag only since 1870 but it actually dates back so far that a precise point of origin is hard to pin down. It COULD be older than Denmark’s flag, but it’s hard to say, and it’s also the case that it probably was not a flag that represented the entire nation of Japan.

I think what JR was getting at was that the legend of the origins of the Danish flag is, well, just a legend, and refers back to a time when there isn’t really any evidence it was actually Denmark’s flag.

The flag of England is at least as old, and maybe older, than Denmark’s. Switzerland’s flag goes back a long way, too.

The things is that it’s going to be very hard to positively answer the question just because prior to the 1700s there really wasn’t any such thing as a “national flag” being used on a consistent basis. European countries flew a variety of royal and house banners; the English flag (the Cross of St. George, the red cross on a white field) was flown and worn at least as far back as the 1300s but I don’t know you could say that anyone would have considered it “the flag of England” that far back, at least any more than they would have considered the Royal Banner the flag of England.

The concept of a national flag is itself a fairly recent one. The Cross of St. George has been around as a symbol of England since as early as 1265, but did not become the de jure flag of England until 1607, when King James decided that the flag of the union would be a combination of the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. Even then it was only intended to serve as a naval pennon.

I think the major difference between US flags with a fringe and without one if they’re both made of equal quality cloth/dyes/etc. is that the ones with fringes are more expensive at the flag store. The difference to me is just a significant as the difference between a dress shirt with french cuffs and regular ones.

This could be a good topic for “Fun With Flags” though.

Does the fringe/admiralty flag woo make anyone else hum “Lunatic Fringe”?

“Some people believe with great fervor preposterous things that just happen to coincide with their self-interest.” Coleman v. CIR (7th Cir. 1986), 791 F.2d 68, 69.

The flag of Israel, in it’s current form, dates back only to 1948 officially, but the Star Of David symbol is ancient – presumably dating back to the days of King David.