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Last modified: 2010-02-06 by dov gutterman
Keywords: barbados | caribbean | trident | barb | west indies | fig tree | dolphin | pelican | pelican island | sugarcane | st. andrew | west indian federation |
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image by Željko Heimer, 24 Febuary 2001

Official Name: Barbados
Capital: Bridgetown
Location: Caribbean
Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II)
Flag adopted: 30 November 1966
Designer: Grantley Prescod
Coat of arms adopted: 21 December 1966
ISO Code: BB

See also:

The Flag

National flag. CSW/C-- 2:3 - Different sources differ in the representation of the shape of the trident - possibly it is not entirely defined or it may have changed over the years. All sources seem to agree that the blue shade is lighter then the standard blue used in the UJ (and in the Governor General of Barbados flag) and yellow is in all representation dark, almost orange. [smi80] designate the flag as CSW/CSW, but since BB has no navy and since (as it seems) the white ensign was introduced in the mean time (Naval and Coast Guard Ensign), the usage designation seems to be all right as shown in Album 2000.
Željko Heimer, 24 Febuary 2001

Barbados flag colour shades from Album 2000 [pay00] are:
Pantone --- CMYK
B  280c --- 100-70-0-20
Y  123c --- 0-30-90-0
Santiago Dotor, 26 Febuary 2001

When I was in Barbados I checked the flag. The blue was uniformly a medium-dark; darker than that usually seen in the French flag, for example, but lighter than that of the US. I'd simply call it B+ in quick descriptions. Likewise the yellow is Y+, rather rich in tone.
Al Kirsch, 26 Febuary 2001

According to Politikens Flagbook [rya00a] the flag was the winning proposal in a nation-wide contest, and was designed by an Grantley Prescod, teacher of arts.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 7 October 2001

In English heraldry a "barbe" is a trident with barbed points, hence the world's only canting national flag (as far as I know), Barbados.
James Dignan, 9 November 2004

The word "Barbados" comes from Portuguese (or maybe Spanish) meaning "beard [ones]", refering to local mangove-like sea-side trees. So, as we know, the trident is more recent than the name, and its etymology is convoluted (though not false).
Antonio Martins, 9 November 2004

A few extra facts were found on this official page.
British Standard colour code numbers: "Ultramarine: BCC148, Gold: BS0/002".
The designer of above flag, Grantley W. Prescod, died in 2003. Quote from above site concerning the flag's selection process and some biographical information:
"His design was chosen from 1,029 entries in an open competition organised by the Government of Barbados. Mr. Prescod was awarded a Gold Medal, an inscribed scroll from the government and $500 which was donated by the Advocate Company Limited. The judges of the competition were Mr. Bruce St. John, Chairman, Major Leonard Banfield, Mr. Maurice Cave, Mr. Neville Connell, Mrs. Enid Lynch and Mrs. B. Ward.
Mr. Prescod attended St. Barnabas Boys School. He taught before undertaking a one year course at the West of England College of Art for Specialist Teachers of Art in 1962-63. He also attained a certificate in Education from Bristol University. Between 1967-72 he studied f[or] the Master of Education degree majoring in Art Education at Temple University, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
Mr. Prescod has taught at the Parkinson Secondary School. He served as an Education Officer from September 1977 until he retired in February 1987.
Mr. Prescod died on November 12, 2003 at the age of 77."
Obituary, photo, and more design details (quote following) at <>.
"Prescod did not only win the competition to design the island's symbol of Independence, he actually made the first Barbados flag, after having been sent to Cave Shepherd by then Premier Errol Barrow to choose the lightest of fabrics in the identified colours.
In an interview last year, Prescod recalled that he chose "yards and yards and made about seven large flags". A neighbour of his sewed the pieces together."
Jan Mertens, 3 November 2007


The blue on the left is for the sky, the gold for the sand, the right blue for the sea. The trident in the middle represents the break with England at independence - the trident is broken, thus only the top is showing. The name of Barbados comes from the Portuguese name Os Barbados meaning bearded one, because of the bearded fig tree that used to cover the island. The three points of the trident represent the three principles of democracy - government of, for and by the people.
James Dignan, 22 November 1995, "Amanda" from Barbados, 20 May 1998

According to Politikens Flagbook [rya00a] (my translation): "Prescod explains the stripes as symbol for the blue sea and the golden sand, that encircle the island. The trident is taken from the previous flag-charge, which showed Britannia holding a trident (symbol for her rule
over the seas). Here, the trident is without shaft as a symbol for the break with the colonial past. Simultaneously it symbolizes the sea god Neptune and reflects the sea's large significance for Barbados."
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 7 October 2001

Rules about Flying the Flag of Barbados

from the official site of the Barbados government :

  • The National Flag should be flown every day from the Public Buildings, Trafalgar Square, from 6:00am to 6:00pm. It may also be flown daily from government buildings and schools when they are in session, and places of business. The National Flag should not be flown after 6:00pm except inside a building.
  • The National Flag is flown at half-mast in mourning. The decision on the occasions on which the flag should be flown at half-mast rest with the Cabinet (Government).
  • The flag should never be flown with the trident inverted except as a sign of distress.
  • The flag when on display should not be allowed to touch anything beneath it - floors, furniture, trees, plants, buildings, vehicles, water, etc.

Horizontal Variant

image by Željko Heimer and António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 December 2005

When reporting BB stamps with flags, Ron Lahav mentioned a Barbados flag with horizontal rather than vertical stripes, which is shown in stamp SG 677, issued in 1981 for the Carifesta (Caribbean Festival of Arts), Barbados.
I cannot swear that the thing in the middle of this blue-yellow-blue horizontal equial triband is a black trident, but there's something there alright.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 December 2005

The Government of Barbados Information Service does proclaim that it is the Barbados flag at <>.
Ned Smith, , 14 December 2005

This is not correct.  There is no Horizontal variant.  This layout is used in banners at parades and to decorate buildings on Independence day. It represents the national colours but is not a flag. It is never used as a flag.  The image on the stamp must be an art error, or it was a special event banner on that occasion.
Craig Ashby, 19 June 2006


Barbados is divided to 11 parishes. There are no known flags of those parishes. The parishes are:
- Saint Andrew
- Christ Church
- Saint Peter
- Saint George
- Saint John
- Saint Lucy
- Saint Michael
- Saint Joseph
- Saint Philip
- Saint James
- Saint Thomas
List based on Administrative divisions of the World.
Dov Gutterman, 25 October 2004

Storm Warning Signals

According to this WMO page, Barbados uses signals 45a and 41a: 45a, a green flag, is defined as "The island is out of danger. The green flag of the day signal has a white diagonal stripe" which really means that the 45a picture does not apply to Barbados, as it is incomplete. 41a is the well-known set of two black flags pierced red,meaning "Hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours."
Jan Mertens, 1 November 2007

Barbados Cadet Corps

The 100th anniversary of Barbados Cadet Corps was commemorate with a series of stamps, one of which show its flag.
Barbados Postal Service web site show it at: <> with a description:
"The Cadet Banner features the Corps’ Crest worn on the headdress of the Cadet Corps’ members. The Crest, which is blue and gold, is set on a blue background. Over the years the Cadet Crest has been in the form of the Star of David. The centre design of the Crest has been altered each time there has been a change within the structure of the military in Barbados. For instance, in the days of the Barbados Regiment, the Crest showed the Queen with the Trident in hand. The current Crest shows the hand holding two pieces of sugar cane which is part of the Coat of Arms of Barbados. This Banner was established within the early 1980’s after the establishment of the Barbados Defence Force.
Dov Gutterman, 24 September 2008

I feel bound to point out that the lady brandishing the trident in the erstwhile colonial badge of Barbados was, in fact, Britannia.
Peter Johnson, 24 September 2008

Barbados Yacht Club

image from Barbados Yacht Club web site

From Barbados Yacht Club web site:
"As deemed appropriate in March 1991, the Management Committee and Commodore Charles F. Packer commissioned a contemporary emblem for the Barbados Yacht Club. The previous insignia featured a Royal Coronet, a chevron and a flying fish, and was utilized from 1932 to 1967. It was granted to the Yacht Club during the empirical reign of King George V. Therefore a new design was sought to convey the heritage of the past within the society of a post independence Barbados.
The Board of Management retained the expertise of Heraldic Artist Ann Rudder, who prepared a portfolio of sample logos for the Yacht Club with relevant marks of identity for the Flag, Burgee, Letterhead and all Properties thereof. The chosen logos were submitted to the Cabinet Office of the Government of Barbados. Permission of use was granted on October 17, 1991; for the following emblem as blazoned:
Sable, issuant of a fess wavy Aqua and Azure at honour point a chevron Or, conjoined in chief each to the dexter and sinister with three piles nebuly Argent; surmounted in pale by a trident anchor stocked of the first, fimbrated and fluked of the last, cabled and bearing an annulet of the fourth, upon which the initials B Y C are displayed.
The Coat of Arms of the Barbados Yacht Club depicts a Golden Chevron arising from a wavy blue sea. This symbol has been retained from the original grant. The word is derived from French chevron, to describe a gable rafter for the roof of a building or the central beam for the keel of a ship. Symbolically this would convey protection or shelter on land or sea. An early grant for the Carpenters’ Guild dated 1333, displayed the chevron with three drafting compasses. Other worshipful companies such as the Joiners and the Masons added the ‘L’ square to their badges. Such fraternities were concerned “with the mutual assistance of members of their brotherhoods in poverty, sickness and death”. The duty of building individual moral character within the preservation of these essentially all male craft guilds was the foundation of most Masonic lodges, which retain the compass and ‘L’ square emblem into modern times.
The Anchor originated from pre Roman times. It became known to Christian seafarers whose scriptures told of, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”. Hebrew 6:19. Subsequently the anchor became symbol of Bishop Nicholas, Patron Saint of sailors, travelers and children. Mythically Poseidon [Neptune] ruler of oceans possessed the Trident-Staff upheld by ‘Britannia’ who ruled the seas. Although Barbados ‘broke’ from empire on November 30, 1966, the trident head was retained to indicate a civil independence, and is foremost of all national emblems. Therefore the grant to the Barbados Yacht Club is significant."
Dov Gutterman, 11 October 2008