In flag form it served the early Polish kings

According to polls, about one out of three Poles say they own a Polish flag, and about one out of four fly it on national holidays. Such public display of patriotism is much more common in western Poland, especially in Greater Poland, than in other parts of the country. The state flag of the Republic of Poland is also the flag specified in paragraph 1, with the coat of arms of the Republic of Poland placed in the middle of the white stripe. Legislation concerning the national symbols is far from perfect. The Coat of Arms Act has been amended several times and refers extensively to executive ordinances, some of which have never been issued. Moreover, the Act contains errors, omissions and inconsistencies which make the law confusing, open to various interpretations and often not followed in practice.

Very appropriately in light of the country’s turbulent and often tragic history, the Polish national anthem is titled Poland Has Not Yet Perished. That sentiment is echoed by Poland’s national symbol, the white eagle on a field of red, which has remained constant for more than seven hundred years. Originating as a coat of arms in the thirteenth century, the white eagle on red has appeared in many different versions. In flag form it served the early Polish kings as a a royal banner.

Polish Legions created in 1797 in French-controlled republics in Italy, used either national cockades of the particular Italian republics in which they served or the French tricolour cockade. In the latter case, the red and blue colours were replaced with crimson and navy blue respectively, hues considered to be traditionally Polish. The General Confederation of the Kingdom of Poland, which sought to revive the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the French invasion of Russia in 1812, adopted red-and-blue cockades, symbolizing the unity of Poland and Lithuania . The polish flag is two equal horizontal stripes, the upper one white and the lower in red.The colours are defined in the Polish constitution as the national colours.

With the demise of the Polish Peoples Republic in this flag, slightly modified became the Standard of the President of the Republic of Poland. The basic variant of the national flag is a plain white-and-red horizontal bicolor. A variant defaced with the coat of arms is restricted to official use abroad and at sea. Legal restrictions notwithstanding, the two variants are often treated as interchangeable in practice.

The regime struck back with a declaration of martial law, which lasted until 1983. But Poland’s economic and social crisis proved insolvable and this together with the progressive loosening of Soviet control over its East European satellites, forced the government to negotiate with Solidarity. Free elections were held, leading to the formation of a non-communist government. The hated title of Peoples Republic was scrapped and the country became the Republic of Poland once more. This was symbolized by replacing the crown on the head of the Polish eagle. The flag also played a crucial part in the Solidarity movement.

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