Flag of Malta

The flag of Malta (Maltese: Bandiera ta' Malta) is a bicolour, with white in the hoist and red in the fly. A representation of the George Cross, awarded to Malta by George VI in 1942, is carried, edged with red, in the canton of the white stripe.[1] The flag was first recognized in the May of 1952.[2]

UseNational flag and state and naval ensign
Adopted21 September 1964
DesignA vertical bicolour of white and red with the representation of the George Cross edged in red on the upper hoist-side corner of the white band.
UseCivil ensign
DesignA red field with a white border, and a white Maltese cross in the center.
National flag of Malta alongside with the flag of the Knights of Malta


The red hue in the Maltese flag is officially documented as Pantone 186 C, RGB (207,20,43), Hex #CF142B or Spot Colour - 50% rubine red • 50% warm red.[3]

The constitution of Malta also states that the white side must be on the hoist pole while the red side must be "in the fly"[4]

Tradition states that the colours of the flag were given to Malta by Roger I of Sicily in 1091. Roger's fleet landed in Malta on the completion of the Norman conquest of Sicily.[5] It is said that local Christians offered to fight by Roger's side against the Arab defenders. In order to recognize the locals fighting on his side from the defenders, Roger reportedly tore off part of his chequered red-and-white flag.[6] However, this story has been debunked as a 19th-century myth,[7] possibly even earlier due to the Mdina, Malta's old capital, associating its colours with Roger's in the late Middle Ages.[8][9]

The white and red standard was reportedly used by Maltese insurgents during a rebellion against French occupation in September 1798.[10]

The flag of the Knights of Malta, a white cross on a red field,[11] was a more likely source of the Maltese colours, inspiring the red and white shield used during the British colonial period.[7] The flag used by the knights was also known to be the oldest still-in-use national flag.[12][13] The blue canton present in the 1943 to 1964 version of the flag was removed after Maltese independence, with the George cross instead given a red fimbriation.[14]

The George Cross

The George Cross (National War Museum, Malta)

The George Cross originally appeared on the flag placed on a blue canton (see List of flags of Malta). The flag was changed on 21 September 1964 with Malta's independence when the blue canton was replaced by a red fimbriation, the intention being that the Cross appear less prominent. His Majesty King George the Sixth bestowed the George Cross to Malta on April 15th, 1942.[15] in recognition of its courageousness during World War II.[16][6] The symbol was later officially added to the Maltese flag on the 28th of December 1943[17] despite symbolism being in circulation between April 1942 and December 1943 depicting the flag.[18]


Recently, the emblem has been under consideration for removal, with an act passing in parliament in 1975 allowing the George Cross to be removed by a simple parliament majority[19] with the reasoning being that the cross ties Malta to its turbulent, colonial past.[20][7] A campaign on social media in 2013 further emphasized this point, coming up with an alternative of replacing it with the Maltese cross.[21][22]

A representation of what the alternate flag of Malta would have looked like.

Civil ensign

The civil ensign shows a red field, bordered white and charged with a blank Maltese cross. It is also known as the Merchant's flag[23] and/or the maritime flag of Malta.[24][25][16]

Historical flags of Malta

See also


  1. "LEĠIŻLAZZJONI MALTA". legislation.mt. Retrieved 2022-11-28.
  2. Murphy, Philip (2013). Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-921423-5.
  3. Gonzi, Lawrence (2008). Graphical Specifications for the National Flag of Malta (in Maltese). Office of the Prime Minister of Malta. p. 2.
  4. Mifsud, Ivan (2022-03-21). Constitutional Law in Malta. Kluwer Law International B.V. ISBN 978-94-035-4430-4.
  5. Rudolf, Uwe Jens; Berg, Warren G. (2010-04-27). Historical Dictionary of Malta. Scarecrow Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-8108-7390-2.
  6. Nevins, Debbie; Sheehan, Sean; Yong, Jui Lin (2019-07-15). Malta. Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-5026-4749-8.
  7. "Flags, Symbols, & Currencies of Malta". WorldAtlas. 2021-02-24. Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  8. "World unites in Fair Play". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2022-11-28.
  9. Gaul, Simon (2007). Malta, Gozo and Comino. New Holland Publishers. p. 25. ISBN 1860113656.
  10. Hardman, William (1909). A history of Malta during the period of the French and British occupations, 1798–1815. London: Longmans, Green & Co. p. 114.
  11. Guillet (sieur.) (1705). The Gentleman's Dictionary: In Three Parts. Viz. I. The Art of Riding the Great Horse ... II. The Military Art ... III. The Art of Navigation ... H. Benwicke ... T. Goodwin, M. Wotton, B. Tooke ... and S. Manship.
  12. Strickland, Adrian (1997). "The vexillological heritage of the Knights of Saint John in Malta" (PDF). Proceedings of the XVII International Congress of Vexillology.
  13. Bamford, Paul Walden (1964). "The Knights of Malta and the King of France, 1665-1700". French Historical Studies. 3 (4): 429–453. doi:10.2307/286150. ISSN 0016-1071. JSTOR 286150.
  14. Smith, Whitney (August 11, 2011). "flag of Malta | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved December 2, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. Office, Great Britain Colonial (1963). Malta Independence Conference, 1963. H.M. Stationery Office.
  16. Sheehan, Sean (2000). Malta. Marshall Cavendish. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7614-0993-9.
  17. Mallia, Amy (April 15, 2022). "The Story Of Malta And The George Cross". Lovin Malta. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  18. Bonnici, Alfred (August 2004). "Lord Gort's air mail letter to the U. K. (1942) & the George Cross on Malta stamps & flag". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. Xuereb, Charles (February 23, 2019). "75 years of the George Cross on the flag - do we still need a Colonial war medal?". Times of Malta. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  20. Xuereb, Charles (September 1, 2022). "Republican Malta is still not colonially free". Malta Today. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  21. "Campaign wants George Cross replaced by the Maltese Cross on the flag". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2022-11-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. "George Cross controversy". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  23. "Flags, Symbols and their uses". www.gov.mt. Retrieved 2022-11-28.
  24. Harwood, Stephenson (2006). Shipping finance (3rd ed.). London: Euromoney Books. p. 400. ISBN 978-1-84374-460-3. OCLC 826658118.
  25. Inc, IBP (2013). Malta Recent Economic and Political Developments Yearbook Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments. Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1-4330-6350-3. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  26. Holden, Edward Singleton (1906). Our Country's Flag, and the Flags of Foreign Countries ... D. Appleton and Company.
  27. Paper trail retraces a 400-year-old murder
  28. "History of the Maltese Flag : vexillology". Reddit.com. 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2022-04-23.
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