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Orange Free State (South Africa)

Oranje Vrijstaat (Suid-Afrika)

Last modified: 2011-06-24 by bruce berry
Keywords: south africa | orange free state | orange river colony |
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[Orange Free State (South Africa)] image by Herman de Wael, 24 Feb 1998

See also:

Orange Free State flag (1856-1902)

When the Republic of Orange Free State came into being on 23 February 1854 it possessed neither arms nor a flag.  On 15 May 1854 the Orange Free State Government Secretary wrote to the Republic's Consul in the Netherlands and asked whether King William III would be willing to grant the OFS arms and a flag.  This was followed by a personal letter to the King from President Hoffman on 15 October 1854.  In February 1855, Hoffman's presidency came to an end and there followed an inter-regnum of 6 months when JN Boshoff was President.  He knew nothing of the approach to the Dutch monarch.

The request for arms and a flag was eventually granted and on 12 January 1856 the King's special envoy, Cornelis Hattingh, arrived in Bloemfontein with the royal gifts.  The flag consisted of seven equal alternating horizontal stripes of white and orange with the Dutch flag in the canton. Both the arms and flag remained in use until the OFS came to an end following the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging marking the end of the Anglo-Boer War on 31 May 1902.   The Republic of the Orange Free State then became the British controlled Orange River Colony until it was incorporated into the Union of South Africa on 31 May 1910.
Bruce Berry, 12 Feb 2000

The flag of the Orange Free State (OFS) was designed in 1856 by King William III of the Netherlands, on request of the OFS Volksraad (parliament). It is said to represent the bonds between the OFS and the Netherlands, and it's royal house (of Orange). Carr goes on to say that some claim the three orange stripes were a reference to William the Third of Orange being the designer.

I think that the fact that the country was named after the Orange River (itself named after the Dutch royal house) must have had a bearing and that the canton and stripes design is likely a reference to the Stars and Stripes, which inspired other "new" nations' flags in this period (e.g. Greece, El Salvador)
Roy Stilling, 11 Oct 1996

This flag was registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry as the flag of the Republic of Orange Free State for the Office of the Prime Minister, together with the flag of the South African Republic, on 30 April 1983 (application 08 January 1982, amendment 05 March 1982). Certificates were issued for both in Afrikaans on 14 October 1983.

The text in English for the flag Republic of Orange Free State reads as follows:
A rectangular flag proportions three by two, consisting of seven horizontal stripes of equal width alternately white and orange and a canton of three stripes, red, white and blue in the proportions four by three.
Source: "Some South African Flags, 1940-1990" compiled by F.G. Brownell, the State Herald, June 1991. (SAVA Journal 1/92) [brl92].
Mark Sensen, 08 Mar 1999

Orange Free State Coat of Arms 

[Orange Free State coat of arms] image from Mike Oettle's website.

The actual arms of the Orange Free State republic were quite different, as you'll see at my website.

Arms taken into use on 23 February 1857, the third anniversary of the Oranje Vrij Staat. The blazon, as quoted by F G Brownell, reads:
Arms: On a shield Argent, between three bugle horns Azure, garnished and stringed Gules, a representation of the seal of the Orange Free State Republic as adopted in 1856, viz. on a white roundel, in chief a tree on an island, between dexter, three sheep and sinister, a natural lion supporting the tree with his dexter paw, in base a Voortrekker wagon on an island all proper; on a ribbon draped fesswise, the motto GEDULD EN MOED, above the tree the word VRYHEID and below the wagon the word IMMIGRATIE; behind the shield on two staves in saltire with ball and spear point Or, two flags of the same Republic draped on both sides, each with seven stripes visible, alternately white and orange and a canton of three stripes, red, white and blue.

The story of how the OFS got its odd concoction of a coat of arms was especially interesting to me, since it involved a tricky situation that my ancestor President Boshof had to deal with.

You'll see on my page an illustration of one of the drafts put forward to the Dutch king for his grant to the Boer republic. I hope to have a second illustration, of a rather different draft design, on the page early next year.
Mike Oettle, 14 Dec 2001

Orange Free State spurious Coat of Arms

[Orange Free State coat of arms]  reported by Victor Lomantsov, 26 Dec 2000

I found interesting Coat of Arms for the  Orange Free State. Why the flags which decorated the shield are 'Vierkleur' of South African Republic? Why not Orange striped Flags?
Victor Lomantsov, 26 Dec 2000

That's a curious coat of arms you illustrate for the Oranje Vrijstaat. It's certainly irregular, and it seems to me to have been concocted by some European supporter of the Boer republics during the South African War.

I did try to find the website where the odd illustration came from, but the URL seems to have changed or been cancelled.
Mike Oettle, 14 Dec 2001

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