Flag of the Orange Free State (1857-1902)
Adopted February 23, 1857 [1]
Designed by King William III of The Netherlands [2]
Proportions 2:3 [3]

The flag of the Orange Free State consists of three orange bars on a white field, with the flag of The Netherlands in its canton.


The three orange stripes derive their colour from the name of the republic, which was named after the Orange River, which was ultimately named after the Dutch royal house. The number of stripes is often seen as symbolising the designer: William the Third. [4]

The Dutch flag in the canton reflects continuing bonds between the OFS and The Netherlands. It had also previously been used by Afrikaner uprisings in the towns of Graaff Reinet and Swellendam.

The pattern of the flag seems to have been based on that of the United States, a very popular pattern for new nations in that period.


When the Orange Free State was established as an independent country in February 1854 initially there was no official flag adopted. Three months later the government of the OFS tasked its consul in The Netherlands to ask William III, then king of The Netherlands, to grant the republic a flag and arms of its own.

The request for arms and a flag was eventually granted. On February 23 1857 a special envoy of the king presented the flag in Bloemfontein, the capital of the republic. The flag was promptly adopted, leading to the rather unique situation that a newly established republic adopted a flag designed by a European monarch, who had himself inspired by the flag of what was then one of the few republics in existence.


  • The flag of the Orange Free State should not be seen as the flag of the modern South African province of Free State, which doesn't have a flag of its own.
  • This flag is still very popular among Boer nationalists and is still frequently used.
  • The flag of the Orange Free State was one of the flags to have been put in the centre of the former flag of South Africa.


  1. Armoria patriæ on Oranje Vrij Staat (af)
  2. Flags of the World on Orange Free State
  3. Orange Free State (South Africa) at Flags of the World
  4. Flags of the World on Orange Free State

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