White-and-red flags were first waved during a patriotic demonstration on 3 May 1916 in Warsaw. The organizing committee advised participants about the correct alignment of the colours, that is with the white stripe above the red one. Still, many demonstrators brought flags with the red stripe on top. On 1 August 1919, almost a year after Poland regained independence in November 1918, the Sejm officially introduced a white-and-red bicolour as the Polish national flag.
It should be also secured from being torn off or falling to the ground and it should not be flown outdoors during a heavy rain, blizzard or very strong wind. When no longer in a fit condition to be used, it should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by cutting it in half so as to separate the colours and then, burning. Additionally, the national flag without coat of arms is used as an ensign for inland navigation.
Both variants of the national flag of Poland were officially adopted in 1919, shortly after Poland re-emerged as an independent state in the aftermath of World War I in 1918. Many Polish flags were adopted within the following three years.The designs of most of these flags have been modified only to adjust to the changes in the official rendering of the national coat of arms. Major modifications included a change in the stylization of the eagle from Neoclassicist to Baroque in 1927 and the removal of the crown from the eagle’s head during the Communist rule from 1944 to 1990. Legal specification for the shades of the national colors has also changed with time. The shade of red was first legally specified as vermilion by a presidential decree of 13 December 1928.This verbal prescription was replaced with coordinates in the CIE 1976 color space by the Coat of Arms Act of 31 January 1980. According to the Coat of Arms Act, everyone can use the Polish flag, especially during national and cultural events, as long as it is done in a respectful manner.
The variant with the coat of arms is particularly often used by the Polonia, or Polish diaspora outside Poland, especially in the United States. Harrison’s national flags are available in a range of options and supplied ready to fly with a rope and toggle. In 2018, marchers at the Equality March in Częstochowa carried a modified version of the flag of Poland in rainbow colours. They were reported to prosecutors for the desecration of national symbols of Poland, but the prosecutors determined that no crime had been committed.
In Polish heraldry, the tincture of the charge has priority in relation to the tincture of the field. In the case of Polish national colours, white, the colour of the White Eagle, should always be placed in a more honorable position than red, the colour of the field of the Polish coat of arms. In the most usual, horizontal alignment, this means that the white stripe is placed above the red one. If the alignment is vertical, the white stripe should be on the left from the onlooker’s point of view. If the flag is hung vertically above a street, the white stripe should be placed on the left when looking in the direction of increasing house numbers.
If it drapes a coffin, the white stripe should be placed over the heart. The basic variant of the national flag is a plain white-and-red horizontal bicolor. A variant defaced with the coat of arms is restricted to official use abroad and at sea. Legal restrictions notwithstanding, the two variants are often treated as interchangeable in practice. The flag of the Grand Duchy of Posen, a Polish-populated autonomous province of the Kingdom of Prussia created in 1815, was a red-and-white horizontal bicolour.