The present flag of Serbia consists of three horizontal stripes: a red stripe on top, a blue stripe in the middle and a white stripe on the bottom. In addition, the lesser coat of arms of Serbia appears just left of the flag’s center. The lesser coat of arms is made up of a red shield with a two-headed eagle, a crown and the Serbian cross on it. This version has been the official national flag since 2010.
The earliest Serbian flag was first mentioned in writing in the 13th century. This flag was described simply as “red and blue” and is generally shown as having red on the top half and blue on the bottom. The history of Serbia being complicated, and the Serbian people having been subjugated by many different leaders, the Serbian flag has changed frequently since the 1200s. A yellow war flag was mentioned in association with the Serbs during the 14th century, and in the 1330s the double-headed eagle first appeared on the flag of the Emperor of Serbs and Greeks.
Many different flags were also used during the Serbian Revolution of the early 1800s. The red, white and blue flag first appeared at this time, although with crosses instead of the coat of arms. This flag resembles the Russian flag, which has white on top and red on the bottom instead of the reverse; some have interpreted this as a political statement. The modern flag first came about in the 19th century, when the coat of arms was added to the center of the flag. However, this was the full coat of arms with a full mantle rather than the lesser coat of arms.
When Serbia ceased being an independent nation after the Russian Revolution, joining the new republic of Yugoslavia, the coat of arms was replaced by the Soviet red star. Each of the six formerly independent nations were allowed to keep their own flags, but they had to add the red star. Serbia dropped the star after it became independent again in the 1990s, but did not add the lesser coat of arms until 2004. The Serbia flag was slightly redesigned in 2010 and the coat of arms was made larger, and this is the flag that is still used today.