I hear Americans saying the red, white and blue all the time as if it is obvious to what they are referring to. They are referring to their flag but to non Americans it is not obvious what they mean. To non Americans it is just as likely they are referring to the Union Jack, France’s flag, the Australian or New Zealand flag etc.
Why are these flags all the same colours? Well you might think stars and stripes is the same colour as Britain’s Union Jack, because the people of the US are descended from the British. This also makes sense for Australia and New Zealand. But what about France? And Canada whose two ‘founding’ nations were Britain and France should definitely have the same colours. But it doesn’t, instead opting for the red and white of Japan.
With so many, many colours available for flags, why do so many countries have the same colours? As my title suggests, red white and chartreuse make quite possibly a unique colour scheme for somebody’s flag. Why don’t countries use chartreuse on their flags?
One possibility is that exotic colours go in and out of fashion. What if a flag had dusty rose, teal or peach on it. Well right now those colours would be out of fashion. And wouldn’t that mean that the poor country with that colour on their flag would be out of fashion, too? Would we say, “Sorry, Pacifica, although you’ve got the best resume to be on the security council, your flag is out of style so you can’t take that position. But don’t worry, fashion is cyclical”?
Even the LGBTQ+ flag doesn’t include exotic colours. Just the primary and secondary colours. One could say that it isn’t even a rainbow. That’s right. Rainbows aren’t just the primary and secondary colours. They are the full spectrum. And that’s where you will find chartreuse. It’s in the full spectrum.
Maybe flags started as colours you could easily dye. That might explain why purple is so rare on flags despite being a secondary colour. For centuries it was considered to be the colour of royalty because the only purple dye was rare and very expensive.
But more exotic colours have been around for a long time. I assume burgundy was around at the times of the earliest mention of the place called Burgundy in Europe. Just look at their history! Burgundy goes in and out of style just like the country, duchy or county of Burgundy did. Maybe other countries see this example and shun exotic colours for that very reason.
Whatever it is, if you want a uniquely coloured flag it is quite easy to come up with one. If we ever get a chance to colonize the stars, maybe we’ll finally start to use other parts of the spectrum for those interstellar flags.