(Maltese: Bandiera ta’ Malta) is a basic bi-colour, with white in the hoist and red in the fly. A representation of the George Cross, awarded to Malta by George VI in 1942 is carried, edged with red, in the canton of the white stripe.
Tradition states that the colours of the flag were given to Malta by Roger I of Sicily in 1090. Roger’s fleet landed in Malta on the completion of the Norman conquest of Sicily. It is said that local Christians offered to fight by Roger’s side against the Arab defenders. In order to recognise the locals fighting on his side from the defenders, Roger reportedly tore off part of his chequered red-and-white flag. This story has, however, been debunked as a 19th-century myth, possibly even earlier due to the Mdina, Malta’s old capital, associating its colours with Roger’s in the late Middle Ages.
The flag of the Knights of Malta, a white cross on a red field, was a more likely source of the Maltese colours, inspiring the red and white shield used during the British colonial period.
The George Cross originally appeared on the flag placed on a blue canton (see List of flags of Malta). The flag was changed on 21 September 1964 with Malta’s independence when the blue canton was replaced by a red fimbriation the intention being that the Cross appear less prominent. The flag has remained unchanged since.
The Maltese national flag bears a decoration from another country, in this case the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This has been the cause of occasional controversy since Malta’s independence.