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“Symbols of the State” are all the signs, emblems and insignia used officially to represent the sovereignty of the Nation and all the constitutional bodies of the State emanating from the Spanish people.
Among these symbols of the State, on a national scale, are the national Flag, the Coat of Arms, and the Anthem, each of which symbolizes the sovereignty of the Nation and represents the validity in Spain of the values enshrined in the Constitution. Thus, there is a strong identification between the representative function of the symbols of the State, and the Head of State, which makes these symbols be preferentially identified with the person of H.M. The King and with the functions entrusted to him by the Constitution.

Origin, legal regime and use

All of the national symbols that today represent the Constitutional bodies of the State are historically linked to the Crown of Spain. Respecting this symbolic origin, the legal system currently in force recognizes these symbols as the heritage of all Spaniards, establishes their official status, and regulates their use, honours and protection.
a) Flag

A flag is a sign originally used by armies as visible support for the raising of the coats of arms representing the monarchs; the raising of a heavy metal object was replaced by a representation embroidered on fabric and tied to a flagpole, resulting in a lightweight object that was easy to carry and visible over the heads of the combatants. Thus, throughout history the Spanish Army used different flags, until the need to use a brightly-coloured fabric to display the Royal Arms, one which would be easily distinguished from foreign warships on the high seas, made King Charles III, in 1785, commission the Bailiff of the Order of St John, Frey Antonio Valdés y Bazán, Secretary for the Navy, to replace the naval ensign used until then with another one, more visible at sea and for the use of the Royal Navy. Initially, the King was presented with twelve sketches, among which the monarch chose, by Decree of 28 May 1785, the one that constitutes the predecessor of the current flag of Spain. The colours of the Royal Navy were later identified with all the national Armies; subsequently, with the Nation of Spain, through Queen Isabella II's unifying Royal Order of 13 October 1843, with Francisco Serrano as Minister of War, and afterwards, pursuant to another Royal. Order, of 14 March 1844, it was flown as a national flag in non-Navy buildings.
Following many legal provisions since then, Act 39/1981, of 28 October, regulating the use of the flag of Spain and of other flags and ensigns, currently regulates the use of the national flag, and in accordance with the Constitution, sets forth that "The flag of Spain symbolizes the nation; it is a sign of the sovereignty, independence, unity and integrity of the homeland, and represents the high values enshrined in the Constitution", and it must be used at all public buildings and official events, as has also been interpreted by the Supreme Court in its consolidated case-law which, among many others, includes the Rulings of 24 July 2007, 25 November 2008, and 2 December 2008.
b) Coat of Arms

The coat of arms, whose very ancient heraldic origin dates back to the different medieval Kingdoms of Spain, has had many different representations throughout history, changing with the personal Arms of the successive Spanish monarchs. Over time, the heraldic representation lost its personal significance to acquire territorial significance, which in Spain became consolidated after the Peninsular War in 1808, when the Monarchs' Arms gradually started to become identified with the Nation as a whole. Different heraldries coexisted until King Alfonso XIII, through a Royal Order of 3 July 1922, ordered a consultation with the Royal Academy of History, which, in a Report of 9 January 1923, recommended the preferential adoption as the "national blazon" of the coat of arms created in 1868, to which the Royal Crown and the escutcheon of the House of Bourbon were added, thus gradually bringing closer the personal arms of the King and the emblem representing the Nation.
The legal text currently regulating the use of the Coat of Arms of Spain is Act 33/1981, of 5 October, on the Coat of Arms of Spain, developed graphically by Royal Decree 2964/1981, of 18 December, publishing the official model of the Coat of Arms of Spain, as well as by Royal Decree 2267/1982, of 3 September, which provides the technical specifications for the colours of the Coat of Arms of Spain.
c) Anthem
The National Anthem originated in a military bugle call or march called Marcha Granadera, the first documentary mention of which dates back to 1749. The first manuscript of the march, dating from 1761, was commissioned to maestro Manuel de Espinosa by general Infantry aide and Knight of the Order of Santiago, Martín Álvarez de Sotomayor. It gained official status as a military bugle call in the General Infantry Ordinances of 1762, definitively promulgated by King Charles III on 22 December 1768; its function was that of military bugle call, calling to arms, harmonizing the marching of the troop, and accompanying military honours. Thus, this anthem was used since 1768 to fulfil the Ordinance duty of presenting honours to the Blessed Sacrament and to members of the Royalty; in time, it would extend its scope to events other than military honours, and soon would be given the name of Marcha Real (Royal March). The Spanish people subsequently identified it as a symbol of the sovereignty of the Nation as a whole.

The last official adaptation of this Anthem was made by maestro Francisco Grau Vergara, Brigadier General of the Military Music Corps, who was Director of the Music Unit of the Royal Guard, in collaboration with the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The adaptation was made official through Royal Decree 1560/1997, of 10 October, which regulates the National Anthem. Royal Decree 2027/1998, of 18 September, stipulated that all the exploitation rights of the current version of the National Anthem were ceded to the State free of charge, at the express wish of its author.
Text provided by the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies