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Principality of Monaco, Principauté de Monaco

Last modified: 2008-02-03 by ivan sache
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[Monaco]         [Monaco]

Flag of Monaco
Left, in proportion 4:5 - Image by António Martins, 14 February 2000
Right, in proportion 2:3 - Image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 14 February 2000

Flag adopted 4 April 1881, coat of arms adopted 15 March 1858
Proportion: 4:5 or 2:3
Description: Horizontally divided red-white
Use: on land, as the national and civil flag; at sea, as the national and civil ensign

Colour approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons [pay00]):

  • Red: Pantone 186 c / CMYK (%) C 0 - M90 - Y 80 - K 5

See also:

Presentation of the principality of Monaco

The Principality of Monaco is the second smallest sovereign state in the world (the smallest being the Holy See), with an area of 151 hectares, and the most crowded one.

The early history of Monaco is linked to the Genoese civil wars between the Guelphs (supporting the Pope) and the Ghibellines (supporting the German Emperor). In 1297, the Guelph Rainier Grimaldi captured Monaco's rock from the Ghibellines and founded a dynasty, even if he was not able to keep Monaco for a long time.
In 1342, Charles Grimaldi, from the same family, proclaimed himself Lord of Monaco, and bought in 1346 the seigniories of Roquebrune and Menton.
In the XVIth century, Monaco became the first historical example of a protectorate. During the Spanish protectorate (1525-1641), the Lords of Monaco upgraded their title to Prince. In 1641, by the treaty of Péronne, Monaco was transfered under French protectorate.
In 1793, the Principality was annexed by the French Republic.
In 1814, after the fall of Napoléon I, the Grimaldi were restored and the Principality was put under Sardinian protectorate by the second treaty of Paris. The economical and political situation was very bad and led to the proclamation of the free cities of Roquebrune and Menton in 1848, which were incorporated to France in 1860 with the County of Nice. Count Cavour took the opportunity of these events to drop the Sardinian protectorate over Monaco.

The real birth of Monaco started in 1863 with the creation of gambling, which was forbidden in the neighbouring countries. The suppression of most taxes in 1869 and the achievement of the railway line between Nice and Monaco in 1868 were also important events. All of them were promoted by Prince Charles III, who is also to be credited of the adoption of the current national flag.
The small city of Spéluges became Monte-Carlo in 1866, and the casino was added a theater in 1879, designed by Garnier on the model of the Paris opera. From 1949 onwards, the late Prince Rainier III favoured business with the help of very advantageous fiscal laws.

The current Constitution was enacted on 17 December 1962. The Prince shall hold the executive and judicial powers, and a part of the legislative power. The State Minister, equivalent of a Prime Minister, shall be appointed by the Prince among proposals made by the French government. Ordinary governmental councilllors shall be chosen by the Prince. The National Council (18 members elected by universal suffrage for 5 years) can only propose laws and vote those proposed by the Government. Only the Prince can dissolve the National Council. Justice shall be rendered by courts on behalf of the Prince.

Monaco, although sovereign and independent, has signed "particular conventions with France". French is the national language and the Monegasque franc had the same value as the French franc until adoption of Euro on 1 January 2002. There has been a French-Monegasque customs union since 1865. According to a treaty signed in Paris on 17 July 1918 and officialized on 28 June 1919, Monaco must "exert its sovereignty rights in perfect agreement with the political, military, naval and economic interests of France". There was a severe French-Monegasque crisis in 1962 for political and economical reasons. After 11 months of difficult discussions, a new fiscal status was adopted for Monaco.

Monaco is still a fiscal paradise: the Monegasque citizens and the non-French foreign inhabitants of Monaco do not pay any income tax. To have the same status, French citizens need to have settled in Monaco at least five years before the 13 October 1962. Companies realizing more than 75% of their benefit in Monaco also do not pay any corporation tax. Local taxes are also inexistant. Therefore Monaco has attracted several members of the jet-set, show-biz, professional sport etc... Among the genuine Monegasque citizens is to be mentioned the poet and singer Leo Ferré (1916-1993)

Source: Guide Gallimard Alpes-Maritimes

Ivan Sache, 14 February 2000

Flag of Monaco

Red and white are the heraldic colours of the Grimaldi family. The colours are attested as far back as 1339, but the flag design changed with time. In the XVIIth century, a banner of arms - red and white lozenges - was used.

Sources: W. Smith [smi75c], Dorling-Kindersely Pocket Flag Book [rya97]

Ivan Sache, 14 February 2000

According to both Smith (in The Flag Bulletin [tfb] 215) and notes by William Crampton, the bi-colour of Monaco is now almost invariably (but unofficially) displayed in proportions of 2:3, as opposed to 4:5 as shown in the Annex to the Decree (of Prince Charles III) dated 4 April 1881 which formally established it.
In the Annex mentioned above both flags (the state and national) are shown flying from striped (in a spiral) flagpoles, and there is a photograph (dating from the 1950s) in The Flag Bulletin 215 which shows the same thing, however, I have no idea how common the practice is today.

Christopher Southworth, 7 April 2005

Princely standard and government flag

[Princely standard and government flag]

Princely standard and government flag - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 4 April 2005; coat of arms from Christian Siemer's Wappenlexicon

The white flag with the national coat of arms is consistently identified as:

  • the princely standard and government flag (Pedersen, 1971 [ped71])
  • the Prince's standard, flown from his yacht and at the palace (Barraclough & Crampton, 1978 [c2b78])
  • the Prince's standard and flag for state officials (Crampton, 1990 [cra90])
  • the state flag (Dorling-Kindersley pocket book, op. cit.; Znamierowski, 1999 [zna99])

Smith (1980 [smi80]) identifies this flag as the state flag and ensign, war flag and ensign (indicated in his 6-point grid).

On the website of the Monegasque government (page no longer online), this flag is shown flying at the seats of the Conseil de la Couronne (which seems to be a wing of the palace) and the Conseil du Gouvernement (which is clearly a separate building), while the red-white bicolour is shown flying at the seat of the Conseil National.
It should be noted that the Monegasque government (that is the executive) is responsible to the Prince, not to the Conseil National (the elected legislature). The latter institution, like the rest of the population, uses the red-white bicolour flag and for this reason I feel that the term "government flag" is more appropriate than "state flag" when referring to the arms-on-white flag. Znamierowski [zna99] also makes the relevant point that the red-white bicolour flag is used by Monegasque missions abroad.

Vincent Morley, 1 May 2002

The height of the arms is almost exactly 3/4th that of the flag. Flaggenbuch [neu92], however, shows the Arms occupying 17/20th the height of the flag (proportion 2:3), and describes the flag as:

Fürstliche Flagge, gleichzeitig Standarte des Fürsten und Dienstflagge, darf an Land auch von Privaten geführt werden

I found a large, recent picture of a Monegasque Carabinier about to hoist the State Flag above Saint Mary's tower in Monaco Castle. This was published in Paisajes, a complimentary magazine handed out to passengers in the Madrid-Seville high speed train, page 52, November or December 1999 issue. The picture is so large that even the folds in the flag are apparent, and measuring the flag height and comparing it that of the arms is straightforward.
The arms are 11/20ths (0,55) as high as the flag, which does not fit the images in either Smith [smi75c] or Flaggenbuch [neu92].
The motto (Deo Juvante) is shown in red letters, not gold ones as in some renderings.

Santiago Dotor, 16 February 2000

My copy of an official model of the flag shows a ratio of 16:21 which I assumed was an artistic error and should have been 3:4 (hardly unusual in the flag world), however, some time ago I studied a copy of (what I believe to be) the annex mentioned in Article 3 of a Decree of Prince Charles III dated 4 April 1881 (that formally established both this and the National Flag).
This shows arms of a different pattern than those in present use, (the monks are, for example, clean-shaven and tonsured), but the flag is apparently designed so that the arms are two-thirds of flag length across (70/105) by three-quarters of flag width high (60/80). If expressed in units this makes the hoist 4-24-4 and the length 7-28-7 = 32 x 42 (or 16:21).
In conversation with William Crampton on this matter he told me that, whatever the regulation proportions, most Monegasque flags are made in 2:3.

Christopher Southworth, 19 March 2003

Coat of arms of Monaco

The monks supporting the shield in the coat of arms allude to the conquest of Monaco in 1297, when a Grimaldi entered the city with soldiers dressed as monks, with swords hidden under their cassocks (therefore the monks bear swords on the arms). The collar surrounding the shield represents the St. Charles' Order. The Grimaldi motto (Deo Juvante) reads "With God's help" (also related to the 1297 capture).

Sources: W. Smith, op. cit.; Dorling-Kindersely Pocket Flag Book, op. cit.

Ivan Sache, 14 February 2000

Prince Albert II's flag

The standard of Albert II, just as the one of Rainier III, is made of silk, white with a golden fringe, and has the new cypher (2 "A" in red surmonted by a crown on one side, and the arms of Monaco on the other side. It was given to Albert II during the enthronement ceremony (19 November 2005), who gave it to chief of the palace guard.

Olivier Touzeau, 20 November 2005

Prince Rainier III's car flag

[Prince's standard]

Prince Rainier's car flag - Image by Santiago Dotor, 14 February 2000

Smith (op. cit.) shows the "Princely Flag" with unofficial proportions 5:6, and says about it: "The cipher [sic] of Prince Rainier figures on his personal flag".
The flag is shown as being 5:6 with the fringe - without it it would be quite exactly 3:4. The fringe appears to be one ninth of the height of the white field.
Barraclough and Crampton (op. cit.) identify this flag as the car flag of Prince Rainier III.

Santiago Dotor, 14 February 2000

My guess would be that this flag is used only in the immediate presence of the Prince - perhaps mainly, or only, on cars in which he is travelling.

Vincent Morley, 1 May 2002

Unit pennants

During Albert II4s enthronement ceremony (19 November 2005), new pennants were given to the carabinieri, the firemen, and the police force (sûreté publique). All were square with the arms of Monaco on one side, the motto of each corps, and a date above or under the arms. The carabinieri have a red flag with blue border, the firemn a plain red flag, and the police a white flag with the reverse in the national colors.

Olivier Touzeau, 20 November 2005

A short TV sequence of Rainier's inauguration in 1949 showed armed forces with their proper flags and standards, but only shortly and in black and white. One flag (rather a pennant) could be seen more clearly, showing on a white field the arms, all around a unicolored border (probably not only a golden fringe).

Marcus Schmöger, 7 April 2005