The red ‘hearts’ are the leaves of the water lily

The Dutch Heart Foundation (Ne­derlandse Hartstichting) has nothing to do with the Frisian flag. The seven red ‘hearts’ are the leaves of the yellow water lily and are referred to in Frisian as ‘pompeblêden’. The flag is depicted on, for example, Friesche Vlag dairy products and the shirts worn by the players of SC Heerenveen football club.

The Frisian flag in its current form is more than 100 years old. However, a flag showing water lily leaves has existed since the eleventh century.

The official description of the Frisian flag is: ‘A flag with seven oblique strips of equal width in alternating cobalt blue and white. The centre line of the middle strip starts at the top on the stitched side and goes from one corner to the other. The white strips are embellished with seven scarlet coloured water lily leaves which are shown in a 2:3:2 formation perpendicular to the axis of the strips.’

The seven water lily leaves symbolise the seven early medieval Frisian maritime lands. These were independent areas along the coast of Alkmaar (in the province of Noord-Holland) and on to the river Weser in Germany. These maritime lands joined forces to defend themselves against the Normans.