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Puerto Rico - Historical Flags

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by rob raeside
Keywords: puerto rico | burgundy cross | lares |
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Bandera de Fortificación

On 25 April 2006, representatives of the Spanish government delivered in San Juan the "Bandera de Fortificación" to the "Regimento Fijo". This flag was the first to bear the shield of arms of Puerto Rico. The shield was granted by King Charles IV of Spain to the first Spanish regiment to incorporate local soldiers, that contributed in 1797 to the expelling from San Juan of the English troops (68 vessels and 3,000 men) commanded by General John Abercrombie. The "Regimento Fijo", which is involved in the commemoration of historical acts, required the return of the flag at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, which contacted the Spanish Army.
Source: <>.
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2006

Flag of 1873

image by Nelson Román and Blas Delgado, 19 January 2005

Coat of Arms
image by Nelson Román and Blas Delgado, 19 January 2005

During a very short period of time, from 1873 to 1875, a Republic was proclaimed in Spain, after the dethronement of Isabella II (1833-1868) and the following abdication of Amadeus, Duke of Aosta, as King (1870-1873). The change from Kingdom to Republic was apparently felt, at least vexillologically, in Puerto Rico with the incorporation of a new Coat of Arms and flag. Both images can be seen in the small museum at Arecibo's Museo del Faro (Lighthouse Museum). Nobody is sure how long they were used, if ever.
Source: photos taken by Nelson Román.
Blas Delgado, 19 January 2005

This is the Puerto Rican flag photo under Spanish rule1873 to 1898.
Nelson L. Román, 26 September 2011

Eric Delgado provided photos with flag of Puerto Rico 1873-74. (Image 1), (Image 2), (Image 3)
Nelson L. Román, 26 July 2014

Nice to see it in the flesh. Looks slightly different that shown above
Pete Loeser, 27 July 2014

This is a replica. I suspect that the original flag was with WHITE CROSS (also in the arms) but was of yellow apparence after many years, and by association of Spanish colours born this R-Y flag.
Jaume Ollé, 01 August 2014

Puerto Rico Maritime Province 1845-1898

image by Jose' Carlos Alegria

Obsolete Colonial Registration Ensign. The difference between the European provinces and those from overseas territories are that the previous were rectangular, while the later were swallotail flags. Ratio: 3:5.
Jose C. Alegria, 5 November 1999

Flag According to Steenbergen Book (1862)

image by Jaume Ollé, 16 August 2003

No. 848 - Portorico  [This is the matricule province flag for Puerto Rico].
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 16 August 2003

Grito de Lares Flag (1868)

[Grito de Lares flag]
pale yellow star version
image by Rick Wyatt, 5 August 1998

white star (Lares flag) version
image by Blas Delgado

This is the Grito de Lares flag, used 23 September 1868 during an unsuccessful revolt against Spanish government. The flag is still preserved at the University of Puerto Rico. Even though all written material speaks of the star as white, according to Whitney Smith, who has seen the flag, the star is unmistakably pale yellow.
Dave Martucci, 6 March 1998

Francisco A. Scarano in "Puerto Rico Cinco Siglos de Historia" a generally recognized textbook, on p. 432 has a B&W photo of a man and woman holding the flag. They are not identified, but on p. 442 there is a photo of a woman (older) who is almost certainly the same and she is identified as Mariana Braccetti with the mention "Bordó la bandera de Lares." That is, "She embroidered the flag of Lares."
Anna Stone Jimanez, 31 October 1998

An inland town wherein an unsuccessful rebellion was prematurely staged against the Spanih government in September 23, 1868. The Lares flag, intended to become the national flag of the Republic, was designed by Dr. Ramon Emeterio Betances and embroidered by Mrs. Mariana "Golden Hand" Bracetti. This layout in turn honors their liaison to the Antillean Confederacy and nationalist forces in the Dominican Republic, where Dr. Betances had been exiled to.
Juan Vaquer Jr, 26 Febuary 1999 and Peter J. Torres, 26 March 2002

Flag from the Spanish-American War (1899)

On "CBS 3 - Springfield", 25 July 2008, Miranda Grossman reports the discovery of a flag from the Spanish-American War:
"Its faded, and has a few stains, but the battle flag in Westfield is in good condition. Considering it dates back to the Spanish-American War of 1899.
"The flag had a label on it that said captured at the battle of San Juan Hill," said Dr. Robert Brown, a local historian.
The flag was found at the Westfield Athenaeum. In an attic, folded up in a box.
"It appears to have belonged to the equivalent of a national guard unit that may have very well fought in the Spanish-American war," explained Dr. Brown.
Local Historian, Dr. Robert Brown is chair of an historical task force, who has spent the last few years looking at items people have donated over the century. They've determined it's the oldest Puerto Rican national flag in existence, and pre-dates Puerto Rico becoming a U.S. territory.
The flag will be given to the National Puerto Rican Cultural Historical Museum in San Juan during an official ceremony in November. Until then, the flag is on display at the Athenaeum on Elm Street."
As shown on a colour photography, the flag is vertically divided red- yellow-red, c. 1:2:1, with an emblem in the middle, surrounded by the black lettering "BATALLON PROVISIONAL" (top) / "PUERTO RICO No 3" (bottom).
There is also a video capture of the scene on the same page. Part of Dr Brown's explanations on the TV channel have been deleted from the written version I have quoted. Brown says that the flag is most probably authentic because it was found together with other authentic items of the same period.
Ivan Sache, 29 July 2008

If this is basically the Spanish flag with the battallion crest in the middle, wouldn't one expect it to have been flown with the red and yellow bars horizontal?
In this case, the battallion crest would have appeared on its side, which seems to be unlikely.
It would appear, therefore, that this "flag" was designed to be hung vertically and is, therefore, not an item which would have been carried or flown in action.
I would also quibble with the description of this item as "...the oldest  Puerto Rican national flag in existence". This "flag" is clearly that of a military detachment and, as such, cannot be said to have any "national" characteristics other than those of Spain.
Peter Johnson, 30 July 2008

WRONG Flag in Romanian Dictionary (1958)

[Grito de Lares flag]
image by Alex Danes, 20 July 2009

In the Dictionary of Modern Romanian Language isssued by the Romanian Academy in 1958 there are several (wrong) flags, including one for Puerto Rico.
Alex Danes, 20 July 2009