The Maltese flag is red and white with a vertical division; red in the fly and white at the hoist end, with the emblem of the George Cross in the top left-hand corner. Historically, the origins of this flag were found in the early Middle-Ages. It’s believed that this flag was given to Malta by Count Roger of Sicily in 1091. Count Roger’s official banner sported these colours, and so bequeathed the same colours on Malta.
In the early 16th Century, The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also more commonly known as The Knights of Malta, were ousted from their base in Rhodes and were seeking a new headquarters.
The Knights of Malta came to Malta in 1530 when Charles V of Spain and Sicily, gave them the islands of Malta and Gozo. The heraldry of Malta has been heavily influenced by the Knights, with their ensign being what’s now known as the Maltese Cross; a red, eight-pointed cross on a white background. Although not now incorporated into the official flag, this cross is an emblem of Malta and is recognised as such by many people throughout the world.
What is unique about the flag of Malta is the fact that it bears a decoration from another country. This decoration is the George Cross which was awarded to the nation of Malta by Britain’s King George VI in April 1942 in recognition of the bravery and fortitude of the Maltese during repeated bombings and blockades by Axis powers during WW2, when the entire population almost starved to death. The original letter and award can be seen at the war museum, Fort St. Elmo, Valletta.
The red and white Maltese flag was adopted as the official flag of Malta on 21st September 1964, when Malta gained independence from Britain.
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