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Meaning and history of the imperial naval and war flag
by F.R., The text is taken from an e-mail between the author and Mr. F.R. It is quoted.
QUOTE: "The eagle on the naval and war flag of the German Empire of 1903 is ... the Prussian eagle, not the imperial eagle, even though its appearance was made similar to the imperial eagle in 1892. The imperial naval and war flag of 1871 was originally ... the common war flag of the North German Confederation, and the image of the Prussian eagle on it was obvious for the following reasons:
• The King of Prussia was also President of the North German Confederation.
• Of the states of the North German Confederation, only Prussia had significant naval forces.
• The coat of arms of the North German Confederation was a horizontal black-white-red striped shield, its colors already appeared elsewhere in the war flag.
At the founding of the Empire (1871) the merchant flag (trade flag) and the war flag of the North German Confederation were taken over, the merchant flag became also the national flag. The King of Prussia also became German emperor in personal union and received the command over all the armed forces of the German Empire – except over those of Bavaria and Württemberg, however, there only in the event of war.
The coat of arms of the German Empire of 1871 should be clearly different from the Prussian and the Austrian eagle (black double eagle on a golden background) and showed a black, one-headed imperial eagle with red arms (claws, beak, tongue) without scepter and imperial apple on a golden background. On the chest of the imperial eagle lays a "breast plate" with the Prussian eagle (black with golden arms and with scepter and imperial apple on a silver background), on the chest of the Prussian eagle lay a "heart shield" with the coat of arms of the dynasty of Hohenzollern, a shield, quartered in silver and black. ...
... The entwined "FR" (not "R") ... means "Fridericus Rex" (Latin: "King Frederick") and refers to all Prussian kings of this name. The two German Emperors Wilhelm I. and Wilhelm II. could have changed the name to "WI" ("Wilhelmus Imperator", Latin: "Emperor Wilhelm"), but they did not." QUOTE END
1867–1871, naval and war flag of the North German Confederation, and
1871–1892, imperial naval and war flag of the German Empire
1892–1903, imperial naval and war flag of the German Empire
1903–1921, imperial naval and war flag of the German Empire