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Region of Brussels-Capital (Belgium)

Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale

Last modified: 2009-04-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: brussels | brussel | bruxelles | iris | belgium | law | coat of arms | roaster (red) | lion (grey) | lion (black) |
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[Flag of Brussels-Capital]

Flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital - Image by Mark Sensen, 28 November 1999


See also:


Origin and meaning of the flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital

Iris pseudacorus is the scientific name of the golden iris, the symbol of the region of Brussels-Capital, which is widely used (tramways, subway, taxis etc...) but ill-known.
The choice of this marsh iris as the symbol of Brussels did not occur for the creation of the region of Brussels-Capital (18 June 1989), as often believed.
In 1924, R. Cornette wrote that "this flower was chosen because it grows in the marshes, recalling that the capital was funded on the marshy banks of the Senne river and its tributaries (Maalbeek, Roodkloosterbeek, Geleytsbeek, Vuylbeek, Kerkebeek, Leybeek,...).
Nowadays, in spite of the ultra-rapid urbanisation, the iris can still be found in its naturel habit in the vale of Vuylbeek, in the forest of Soignes.
On 5 March 1991, the Regional Council of Brussels-Capital decided to chose an iris as emblem for the region. A public contest was organized to define its design. After several adventures, the proposal of Jacques Richez was granted by the authorities.

The valley of the river Senne has been housing Brussels for more than 1,000 years. With time, the lower town has progressively spread through the marshy bottoms. In the Dukes of Brabant's times, the marshy plains covered with golden irises encircled the town walls.
According to a legend, this simple plant gave a great strategic victory to the Duke's soldiers. Those knew that iris can grow immersed only in a few centimeters of water. They broke into a gallop through the flooded plains but carefully let their horses stamping iris hills. Their opponents, less knowledgeable in botanics and encouraged by the apparently careless gallop of the Duke's soldiers, got definitively bogged into the marshes.

Translated from the EuroBru website, with kind permission of F. Henrion, Secretary General of EuroBru.

Ivan Sache, 28 November 1999

Quoting the Brussels-Capital official website:

The iris is a bulb that blossoms into large, decorative flowers. It grows particularly well in marshes, with which the territory of Brussels was originally covered.
This flower was also prominent on the sceptre of the descendants of Charlemagne, including Charles of France, who set up his fortified camp in Bruocsella, which the Emperor Otto II had invested as the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia in 977. The site was chosen as the capital by Charles of France in 979, a date considered to be that of the foundation of Brussels.
So the iris is a symbol of Brussels ancient origin. And it was the inspiration for France fleur-de-lis. Note also that Brussels, shortly after its foundation, became the unfortunate rival of Paris in the struggle of the pretenders to the throne of France, the Carolingians and the Capetians.

The iris as "inspiration for France fleur-de-lis" is a widely used explanation, without any serious evidence. The case of the fleur-de-lis is deeply scrutinized by M. Pastoureau [psa98], in 16 pages of well-documented text. Whether the fleur-de-lis was inspired by a real iris, broom, furze or lotus is not known.

Ivan Sache, 9 December 1999


Law on the flag and the emblem of the Region of Brussels-Capital

According to the Law of the 16 May 1991, the emblem of the Region is the iris flower. The flag is in proportions 2:3, blue with a yellow iris flower bordered white.
The Law gives the possible different versions of the flag and emblem, with colour specification according to Pantone system:

  • Flag:

field

iris

border

1

Blue 280

Yellow 116

White 

2

Blue 280

Gold 874

White

3

Black

Black*

White
*with 50% screen effect.

  • Emblem:

1

Yellow 116

Blue 280

2

Gold 874

Blue 280

3

White

Black 

Pascal Vagnat, 17 May 1996


French Community Commission of the Region of Brussels-Capital (Commission Communautaire Française de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale)

[French Community Commission flag]

Flag of the French Community Commission of the Region of Brussels-Capital - Image by Geraard van der Vaart, 10 June 2001

This Commission, created by a special Law on 12 January 1989, depends on the French Community of Belgium but was granted a large autonomy of decision on the territory of the Region.
Its arms, flag and seal were adopted on 30 June 1992.
The flag, in proportions 2:3, is quarterly divided:
- 1-4: Emblem of the be-French Community (red roaster on yellow)
- 2-3: Emblem of the Region of Brussels-Capital (yellow iris with a white border on blue).

Source: M. Lupant [lup98]

Ivan Sache, 10 June 2001


Flemish Community Commission of the Region of Brussels-Capital (Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie van het Brusselse Hoofdstedelijk Gewest)

[Flemish Community Commission]         [Flemish Community Commission flag]

Flag of the Flemish Community Commission of the Region of Brussels-Capital
Left, Current, official flag - Image by Mark Sensen, 10 June 2001
Right, Former, unofficial flag - Image by Geraard van der Vaart, 10 June 2001

This Commisssion has the same status as the French Community Commission, in relation to the Flemish Community.
Its flag was adopted on 9 June 2000 (date of publication in the Belgian official gazette). Regulation 00/04 on the definition of the emblems belonging to the Flemish Community Commission prescribes the arms and the flag of the Commission, together with the rules of use of the flag, as follows:

Article 1. The arms of the Flemish Community Commission are made of a shield whose heraldic description is the following:
"Or a lion sable armed and langued gules a chief azure an iris or fimbriated argent".

Article 2. The flag of the Flemish Community Commission has the following heraldic description:
"Yellow with a black lion, armed and langued red, and a blue stripe having on top a yellow iris bordered white.

Article 3. On the buildings of the Flemish Community Commission, the flag of the Flemish Community Commission replaces the province flag, as prescribed in the relevant orders issued by the Flemish government.
On the buildings of the Flemish Community Commission, the flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital replaces the municipal flag, as prescribed in the relevant orders issued by the Flemish government.

Article 4. The flag is permanently hoisted over; the buildings of the Flemish Community Commission, the administrative buildings of the Flemish Community Commission and the buildings housing the Council's President and Vice President's staff and members of the Board of the Flemish Community Commission. Permanent hoisting means:
- the Flemish flag in the middle;
- the flag of the the Flemish Community Commission on its right;
- the flag of the Region of Brussels-Capital on its left.

Therefore the flag is a banner of the arms with the chief rotated along the hoist and the iris skewed to the top of the flag.

According to Michel Lupant [lup98], the former arms, flag and seal of the Commission were adopted on 4 December 1992.
The flag, in proportions 2:3, is white with the arms in the middle.
The arms are a square diamond horizontally divided yellow-black, charged with a white square diamond slightly rotated including a Flemish lion in grey dotted lines.
This early flag was not recognized either by the Flemish Heraldic Council or the Flemish Minister responsible for Brussels.

Mark Sensen, Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 26 February 2007

The Decree prescribing the arms and the flags of the provinces, municipalities and districts, and of the Flemish Community Commission was adopted by the Flemish Parliament on 18 April 2007, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 27 April 2007 and published on 2 July 2007 in the Belgian official gazette.
Below are the parts relevant for the Flemish Community Commission.

Article 1. The present Decree settles a Community issue.

Article 2.

§ 1.
Each province, each municipality and each district, as well as the Flemish Community Commission, shall have its own arms and its own flag.

§ 2.
The arms of the Flemish Community Commission shall be made of a shield.
[...]

§ 3.
The shield, including, if relevant, the outer ornaments, shall be put on the seal of the Flemish Community Commission, of the province, of the municipality and of the district.

Article 3.

[...]

§ 2.
The arms and the flag of the Flemish Community Commission, prescribed by Regulation of 9 June 2000 stating the definition on the emblems belonging to the Flemish Community Commission, shall keep force of law.
These arms and this flag can be superseded, only invoking new facts or reasons, by a Regulation of the Flemish Community Commission approved by the Flemish Government, according to the prescriptions of § 3 of Article 4.
[...]

§ 3.
Within three months after the receipt of the Regulation of the Flemish Community Commission, of the Decision of the Provincial Council, of the Decision of the Municipal Council, or of the Decision of the District Council, the Flemish Government, after advice of the Flemish Heraldic Council, especially of the Heraldry Division of the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites, shall take a Decision approving this Regulation of this Decision, or shall send to the Flemish Community Commission, to the province, to the municipality or to the district a justified request to revise the Regulation or the Decision. The advice of the Flemish Heraldic Council, especially of the Heraldry Division of the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites, shall be attached to this request.
Within three months after the receipt of the revision request, the Flemish Community Commission, the Provincial Council, the Municipal Council or the District Council shall submit a new Regulation or a new Descision to the approval by the Flemish Government.

Article 4.

If, when the deadline prescribed by Article 3 expires, the Flemish Community Commission, a province, a municipality or a district has failed to submit a Regulation or a Decision, or, if relevant, a new Regulation or a new Decision, the Flemish Government shall automatically prescribe arms and a flag. The same holds if the Flemish Government does not approve the new Regulation or the new Decision as prescribed in Article 3, § 3, second Section.

[...]

§ 2.
The arms and the flag of the Flemish Community Commission, as well as the arms and the flags of provinces, municipalities and districts prescribed as stated in the present Decree, shall be modified and and prescribed again, only invoking new facts or new reasons, by a Regulation of the Flemish Community Commission or by a Decision of the Provincial Council or of the Municipal Council, approved by the Flemish Government, as prescribed in Article 3, § 3 and Article 4.

Article 6. The present Decree shall come into effect on 1 January 2007.

Ivan Sache, 19 June 2008