Officially adopted on 21 September 1964, the Malta flag is a basic bi-colour flag of white and red. The hoisting side (left half) of this bi-colour flag is white while the flying side (right half) is red. These colours bear historical significance as they feature on the blazon of the arms of Malta, and were given to Malta by Count Roger of Sicily in 1091 who took over control over the islands after centuries of Muslim rule under a chequered red and white flag.
Tradition has it that the flag of Malta borrows its colours from Sicily’s Count Roger whose banner was a chequered white and red flag. The flag’s colours were also used by the Knights of Malta, who ruled the Island from 1530-1798. Their badge was the red flag with characteristic white Maltese cross.
The upper left side of the flag displays the George Cross that has a red outline at the edges. The George Cross was added to the Maltese flag when it was presented to the Maltese people by Britain’s King George VI to the Maltese in recognition of exceptional bravery during the Second World War (1942), when Malta was still part of the United Kingdom.
The George cross appeared on a blue canton on 28th December 1943 and this remained to be the Malta flag’s design until 21st September 1964 when the flag and arms were changed yet again with a narrow red fringe substituting the blue canton. All the three variations of the flag might be spotted flying today but the predominant one is the current official Maltese flag that is red and white in colour.
Viewed by a few Maltese as symbol of British rule while Malta was still a British colony, the George Cross was sometimes omitted.