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The variant with the coat of arms is particularly often used by the Polonia, or Polish diaspora outside Poland, especially in the United States. That restriction and kind of state monopoly on the use of national symbols during the Communist regime made flying the Polish flag a symbol of resistance against the government. It became customary, as it still is, for workers to hoist Polish flags on plant buildings when going on strike.

Care should be taken to prevent the flag from touching the ground, floor or water beneath it. It should be also secured from being torn off or falling to the ground and it should not be flown outdoors during a heavy rain, blizzard or very strong wind. When no longer in a fit condition to be used, it should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by cutting it in half so as to separate the colours and then, burning. In practice, however, the restriction is often ignored and the two flags, with and without the coat of arms, are treated as interchangeable.

Though the once-powerful Polish kingdom was swallowed up by Russia, Prussia and Austria in the three partitions of the late eighteenth century, Polish nationalism remained strong. Napoleon Bonaparte gave it expression when in 1807 he stripped Prussia and Austria of lands gained in the partitions of Poland, using them to create the Duchy of Warsaw. The Emperor revived an old connection by appointing his German ally, King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony, as Duke of Warsaw. Though the Duchy was little more than a vassal state of France, Poles hoped that it would make possible a revival of the Kingdom of Poland. The simplicity of The Republic of Poland’s national flag means it’s quite simple for it to modify for specific governmental or military purposes.

In 2018, marchers at the Equality March in Częstochowa carried a modified version of the Poland flag in rainbow colours. They were reported to prosecutors for the desecration of national symbols of Poland, but the prosecutors determined that no crime had been committed. The President of the Republic may announce a period of national mourning. If a flag is flown from a wooden pole rather than a staff or mast, a black ribbon is attached to the pole as a sign of mourning or a black flag is flown to its left from the national flag. Until 1831, Polish soldiers wore cockades of various colour combinations.

If the flag is hung vertically above a street, the white stripe should be placed on the left when looking in the direction of increasing house numbers. If it drapes a coffin, the white stripe should be placed over the heart. According to the Coat of Arms Act, everyone can use the Polish flag, especially during national and cultural events, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. This liberty in the use of national colours is a relative novelty. Until 2004, Polish citizens were only allowed to fly the Polish flag on national holidays.

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