The Netherlands Antilles


The Armed Forces

The Army

The Navy

The Coast Guard

The Islands




St. Eustatius

St. Maarten


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The Netherlands Antilles previously known as the Netherlands West Indies or Dutch Antilles/West Indies, is part of the Lesser Antilles and consists of two groups of islands in the Caribbean Sea: Curaçao and Bonaire, just off the Venezuelan coast; and Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten, located southeast of the Virgin Islands. The islands form an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Both the leeward (Alonso de Ojeda, 1499) and windward (Christopher Columbus, 1493) island groups were discovered by Spain, but only the leeward islands were settled by them. In the 17th century, the islands were conquered by the Dutch West India Company and were used as military outposts and trade bases. In the late 18th century St. Eustatius became the most prosperous island of the Northeastern Caribbean, earning the nickname "The Golden Rock." Both Curaçao and Sint Eustatius became prominent in the slave trade. Slavery was abolished in 1863.

In 1954, the status of the islands was up-graded from a colonial territory to a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom. The island of Aruba was granted a status aparte in 1986, becoming yet another part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom.

The Netherlands Antilles are dissolved as a unified political entity on October 10, 2010. Curaçao and St Maarten are separate countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands now. Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are communities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since then.




Until 1954 the arms used in the Netherlands Antilles were those of its owner viz. the West India Company and the State of the Netherlands.


In the time of the Republic of the United Netherlands the colony of Curaçao and the colony of St. Eustatius were under direct rule of the West India Company (W.I.C.). As a consequence the seal of the Company was used. [1]  When the Company was dissolved in 1791 it was succeeded in 1792 by the Raad der Kolonien (The Council for the Colonies). Its seal showed the arms of the Republic and the legend RAAD DER COLONIËN.  [2]



Seal of the Raad der Coloniën (in the West Indies) 1792  (Æ 99mm)

By courtesy of the Geldmuseum, Utrecht


The commisioners of the trade on the West Indies at the same time used a seal also showing the arms of the Republic but with the legend COMMISSARISSEN VAN DEN W(est) I(ndischen) HANDEL. [3]


A new seal was made for the Committee of the West Indian Possessions of the Batavian Republic. This  showed the Batavian lion, armed with a sword and supporting a shield with the words COMMITTÉ TOT DE WESTINDISCHE BEZITTINGEN, standing in a landscape between a palmtree and a sailing vessel and the attributes of Mercury on the foreground.[4]



Seal of the Committee of the West Indian possessions 1795-1801. (Æ 100 mm)

By courtesy of the Geldmuseum, Utrecht


This seal was abandoned when the Committee was dissolved and succeeded by the Council for the American Colonies (1801). Its seal showed the arms of the Republic again and the legend RAAD DER AMERIC(aansche) COLONIËN / BATAAFSCHE REPUBLIEK. [5]


In the early years of the 19th century Curaçao was occupied by the British in 1800 but they were ousted by the local population in 1803. In 1807 the British occupied Curaçao (again) and Bonaire. As a result of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 Curaçao, Bonaire and Saba were returned by them to the Dutch government in 1816.

From this time on the achievement of state of the Netherlands was used. At first this was the achievement of the Sovereign Principality of the Netherlands adopted in 1814. This was printed in the head of the Publicatie-Blad (for the West Indies) like on this copy announcing the abolition of slavery in 1863.


In 1869 it was proclaimed that the achievement of 1816 should be used.


Governor’s Flag


The Netherlands Antilles


After the status of the Netherlands Antilles had been upgraded in 1954 a coat of arms for the archipelago was published in the “Publicatieblad” vol. 1964, Nr. 161. The publication reads as follows:




Verordening van 30 Oktober 1964 ter vaststelling van het wapen van de Nederlandse Antillen.


In Naam van de Koningin!


De Gouverneur van de Nederlandse Antillen, Overwegende dat het gewenst is een wapen voor de Nederlandse Antillen vast te stellen;

Heeft, na het horen van de Raadgevende Vergadering in gemeenschappelijk overleg met de Staten de volgende verordening uitgevaardigd.


Art. 1

1. Het wapen van de Nederlandse Antillen is als volgt:

«In Goud zes blauwe sterren geplaats in twee kepers; het Schild heeft een rode zoom en is gedekt met de koninklijke kroon.

Wappenspreuk: Libertate unanimus in blauwe latijnse letters of een gouden lint.

2. Een afbeelding van het wapen is bij deze verordening als bijlage toegevoegd.


Art. 2

Deze verordening treedt aan het begin van de dag na zijn uitvaardiging in werking.


Gegeven te Willemstad, 30 October 1964.

N. Debrot


De Minister President,

Minister van Algemene Zaken,



Uitgevaardigd op 6 November 1964

de Minister van Algemene Zaken





That is to say:

Arms: Or, six five-pointed stars Azure arranged in two chevrons, and a bordure Gules.

Crown: The Royal Crown of the Netherlands

Motto: LIBERTATE UNANIMUS (United in Liberty) in blue lettering on a golden ribbon.


The day of the resignation of Aruba on 1 January 1986, the arms were changed by leaving out one star. The stars are now arranged 2, 1 and 2.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay



Governor’s Flag


Armed Forces


The Army


A banner of the Netherlands Antilles Army (Landmacht Nederlandse Antillen) was granted by Royal Warrant of 6 December 1949 no. 49 and presented by Prince Bernard of the Netherlands on 21 January 1950 at Fort Suffisant. It has the achievement of the Netherlands on the reverse and the name of the unity and the capital “J” of Juliana on the obverse. It is somewhat smaller than the usual Dutch military banner because it has the dimensions of the banner of the (former) Royal Dutch colonial army.



In 1951 the LNA was abolished. Its tasks were transferred to the Royal Dutch Navy. The banner was presented to the Legermuseum in Delft in 1982.


The Navy


The arms of the Netherlands Antilles Navy Command (Commandement der Zeemacht in de Nederlandse Antillen) was granted by disposal  Besch. 881426/879247 of 24 February 1976.

It shows the arms of the Netherlands Antilles of 1964 surrounded by the usual Dutch Navy emblem.



When Aruba became a separate country of the Kingdom on 1 January 1986, the name of the service was changed into Navy Command in the Caribbeans  (Commandement der Zeemacht in het Carïbische Gebied) but this had no consequences for the arms. [6]


Kustwacht voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in het Caribisch Gebied


The achievement of the Coast Guard shows:

Arms:  Gules a cross Argent, charged with a disc Or, a sword per pale surrounded by six five-pointed stars Azure, the uppermost Gules.

Crown: The Royal Dutch Crown

Supporter: An eight-pointed police star and two anchors in saltire

Garland: Branches of laurel.

Motto: SAMEN STERK (Strong Together)


The achievement is derived from the achievement of the Mariner Corps from which the crown, supporters and garland are borrowed. The arms show the sword and the six stars of the Netherlands  Antilles Police Force.


Because of the changed relations within the Kingdom after 10 October 2010, the need was felt to adapt the symbolism of the arms.  In the new achievement the three countries Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten are symbolized by red five-pointed stars and the public bodies of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius by blue five-pointed stars.

As a result, by Decision of the Commander of the Navy (CZSK) of 30 july 2012, nr. 2012005350 the upper three stars were tinctured Gules (red), the emblem remaining the same. [7]


New arms, 30.06.2012




The flag shows the emblem in blue on a yellow cloth with an bend of the national Dutch colors


Netherlands Antilles Police Force


The emblem of the Netherlands Antilles Police Force showed a blue fesse charged with six white stars charged with a sword per pale, surrounded by the legend  KORPS POLITIE / NEDERLANDSE ANTILLEN and two ears of wheat.



When Aruba resigned from the Netherlands Antilles the number of stars was reduced to five, arranged in saltire.

The cap badge of the Dutch West Indies Police consisted of the Dutch lion with sword and bundle of arrows, surrounded by a garland of laurel. After 1954 the cap badge was a white metal eight-pointed star radiant, charged with the coat of arms. After the resignation of Aruba the arms were adapted and coloured.

The sleeve-badge consisted of a triangular shield with curbed sides:


Arms: the flag of the Netherlands Antilles, being white with a red pale and a blue fesse charged with five white five-pointed stars, charged with a sword per pale surrounded by an oval frame with the legend KORPS POLITIE  / NEDERLANDSE ANTILLEN, separated by two ears of wheat.


Sleeve badge, emblem, cap badge and rank insignia as worn by Netherlands Antilles police until October 2010.


The Police force of the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved on the 9 October 2010 and replaced by a separate police force of Curaçao and the Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland (Caribbean Netherlands Police Corps) under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (and its successor).



the stars represent the Countries Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius


Sleeve Patch





The arms of Aruba were adopted on 15 November 1955. They are:


Arms: Quarterly, a cross Argent, in the first Azure, an aloe-plant Or; the second Or a mountain Vert rising from a base barry wavy of six Azure and Argent; the third Or, two clasped hands Gules; the fourth Gules, a six-spoked wheel Argent.

Crest: A lion couchant Gules

Garland: Branches of Olive Vert.


In the arms


  • The aloe symbolizes the main trade crop
  • The mountain symbolizes the island rising from the sea
  • The clasped hands symbolize the friendly relations with the world
  • The wheel symbolizes industry and tourism
  • The cross symbolizes religion and piety
  • The lion symbolizes power and cordiality
  • The branches of laurel symbolize peace and friendliness


The flag of the Governor of the island is white, the upper and the lower stripes of the flag of the Netherlands, the central stripe charged with a badge of the flag of Aruba.


Flag of the Goverrnor of  Aruba (KB van 29 okt. 1985, nr. 7) [8]


Aruba Police Force


Initially the police of Aruba used the emblem of the Dutch municipal police, introduced in 1960, consisting of a book of law charged with a sword per pale and surrounded by the motto VIGILAT UT QUIESCANT in chief and a garland of laurel in base. Below was the name of the island ARUBA on an escroll.




When Aruba had adopted its own flag on 16 March 1976 a breast patch of the Aruba Police Force was adopted in 1986:

Arms: The national flag of Aruba, charged with a sword per pale, a chief Argent and in a base Or, the word ARUBA in black lettering.

The arms are on a white shield bearing the legend CUERPO POLICIAL (Police Corps) in black lettering.


The Arms of the Islands


1. Bonaire



Arms: Azure, a helm proper charged with an escutcheon Argent, a compass-card Sable charged with a six-pointed star Gules.

Crown: The crown of a marquess.


Adopted by Eilandsbesluit 26 juni 1986, nr. 9 (A.B. 1986, nr. 13).


By law of 17 May 2010 the Island of Bonaire became a community of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Stb. 345)

For the occasion the arms of the island were confirmed by KB van 20 september 2010, nr. 10.002198.


The new blasoning differs slightly from the ancient one by leaving out the number of rays of the star. The new blasoning reads:


in azuur een stuurrad van goud; in een hartschild van zilver een ster van keel, omsloten door een kompasring van sabel. Het schild gedekt met een gouden kroon van vijf bladeren. 


A new drawing was made for the High Council of Nobility by P. Bultsma. [9]


2. Curaçao


Initially the achievement of Nieuw Amsterdam was displayed in connection with Curaçao. This can be seen on a profile of Willemstad, today in the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam.

In 1795, after the dissolution of the West India Company in 1791, a committee was formed in Curaçao to design a new seal. This did not differ very much of the old seal of the Company.


Seal of Curaçao after 1795


Seal: A three-masted sailing vessel sailing to the dexter. L.: SIGILLUM + CURAÇAO + SOCIETATE + INDIE + OCCIDENTALIS +.  [10]

The ship on the seal was not very well known on Curaçao and this is the reason that it was thought that Curaçao never had a coat of arms. After the restitution of Curaçao by the British in 1815, the achievement of state of the Netherlands was used in the same way as in the other parts of the Dutch West Indies.  [11]


A coin of 1 reaal, minted for Curaçao in 1821, showed a staff of Mercury and a stalk of rice in saltire, which are the symbols of commerce and agriculture.


The present arms of Curaçao are:


Arms: Per pale: 1. Argent, a sailing vessel on waves of the sea, proper (West India Company); 2. Argent, an orange tree proper (the House of Orange); Escutcheon: Gules, a pale Sable charged with three crosses saltire Argent (Amsterdam).

Crown: The crown of a marquess.


On 10.10.2010 Curaçao became a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The flag of its governor is of the same shape as the older governor’s flag of Aruba, the badge in the center showing the new flag of the Island.


Flag of the Governor of Curaçao adopted by KB of 20 sept. 2010, nr. 10.002580 [12]



Curaçao Police Force




3. Saba



Arms: Argent, Mount Scenery (887 m) its top surrounded by a cloud, between a fish and a sailing vessel in chief and a white potato in base all proper.

Crest: The head of a wedrego / Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus Iherminieri - Procellariidæ) between the leaves of Saban cabbage all proper

Motto: REMIS VELISQUE (With oars and sails i.e. With all one’s might.)


On 10.10.2010 Saba became a community of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. For the occasion the arms were confirmed by KB of 20 september 2010, nr. 10.002570. The official blasoning reads:


in zilver een berg van sinopel, waarvan de top omringd wordt door een wolk van zilver, vergezeld rechtsboven van een tropische vis van azuur en goud, linksboven van een getuigde driemaster van keel, de zeilen en de naar links waaiende mastvlaggen van zilver, en onder van een aardappel van natuurlijke kleur. Het schild van achteren gehouden door een Audubon pijlstormvogel van natuurlijke kleur, ter weerszijden vergezeld van een steel met drie koolbladeren van sinopel. Wapenspreuk: REMIS SABA VELISQUE in Latijnse letters van sabel op een lint van goud.


A new drawing of the achievement was made for the High Council of Nobility by P. Bultsma.[13]


4. St. Eustatius



The arms (and flag) of St. Eustatius were officially presented on 16 November 2004 (‘Statia Day’).

The Dutch High Council of Nobility remarks in its 2004 Annual Report:

“Be it that the exact date of the decree of the Island Council of St. Eustatius is (not yet) known, the design of the arms (by Walter Hellebrand, 1999) as presented for comment to the Council has been adopted unchanged. A rendering and blasoning are only to consult on Internet.

In its advice of 21 May 2002 the Council urged a simplification of the charges of the shield parted per pale and enté en point. The three elements symbolizing the past (Golden Rock), the present (Fort Oranje) and the future (anglefish) were thought to be too excessively represented. The Council recommended to replace the mural crown, the beads and the stalks of sugar-cane by a crown of five leaves, like on the arms of Bonaire and Curaçao. The Council could agree with the motto ‘SUPERBA ET CONFIDENS’ .

By the adoption of these arms the last island of the Antilles has its own arms.” [14]


The motto means: Proud and Confident.


On 10.10.2010 St. Eustatius became a community of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. For the occasion the arms were confirmed by KB of 20 september 2010, nr. 10.002023.

The new blasoning reads:


Ingebogen gekapt van zilver, beladen met een zee-engel van natuurlijke kleur; rechts golvend doorsneden; I in keel een uitkomend rotsmassief van goud, bestaande uit twee gedeelten, waarvan het achterste gedeelte een derde van de hoogte van het voorste heeft; II golvend gedwarsbalkt van tien stukken van azuur en zilver; links doosneden; I in zilver een uitkomend fort met gekanteelde ommuring van oranje, bestaande uit een toegangspoort en twee spitsvormige torens verlicht van sabel en een klokkentoren verlicht van het veld; II van sinopel. Het schild omsloten door een kralenketting van azuur, geplaatst op twee schuingekruiste rietstengels van natuurlijke kleur en gedekt met een stenen kroon van zilver, gevoegd van sabel, bestaande uit vier torens met elk vier kantelen. Wapenspreuk: SUPERBA ET CONFIDENS in Latijnse letters van sabel op een lint van zilver.


A new drawing of the achievement was made for the High Council of Nobility by P. Bultsma.[15]


5. St. Maarten


In the coat of arms of Cornelis Lampsins (1600-’69) St. Maarten is represented by a picture of St. Martin and the beggar. This can be seen on his coat of arms in the Church of St. James in Flushing (Zeeland).

The present arms were adopted 17 November 1982.




Arms: Azure, the Court House in Philipsburg proper between the national flower and the Border Monument in chief proper, all within a bordure Gules.

Crest: A rising sun Or and a pelican flying to the sinister proper.

Motto: SEMPER PRO GREDIENS (Alwayd Moving Forward) in blue lettering on a yellow ribbon.


The arms of the French part of the island show a sailing vessel and a palm-tree on the shore.


The Dutch part of the island became a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on 10.10.2010. A flag of the governor of the new country has the model of the flag of Aruba, adopted in 1985, the badge in the center charged with the Court House of the arms.


Flag of the Governor adopted by KB of 20 sept. 2010 nr. 10.002581[16]


Sint Maarten Police Force





Breast Patch


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© Hubert de Vries 2010-01-27

Updated 2010-03-02 / 2010-03-05 / 2010-10-12 / 2010-10-24 / 2011-10-08 / 2014-05-21/ 2015-08-09




[1]  Felhoen Kraal, J.: Wapens en Zegels van Suriname. Uitg. van het Indisch Instituut. Amsterdam, 1950. 31 pp. 30 ill..

[2]  Schutte, O.: Catalogus der zegelstempels, berustende in het Koninklijk Penningkabi­net en enige andere verzamelingen. In: De Nederlandsche Leeuw. 1971, kol 329-370. Nr. 44.

[3]  Ibid. Nr. 45

[4]  Ibid. Nrs. 104-105

[5]  Ibid. Nr. 106

[6]  Eekhout, L.L.M. c.s.: Coat of Arms of the Royal Natherlands Navy. Leeuwarden, 1991. No. 94.

[7] Jaarverslag Hoge Raad van Adel 2012, p. 7.


[9] ibid.

[10] Picture of the seal of Curaçao on the frontispiece of the 3rd up to and including the 6th Annual Report of the “Geschied-, Taal, Land- en Volkenkundig Genootschap” at Willemstad (Amsterdam, 1899-1903).

[11]  Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch West-Indië, Den Haag, 1914-1917, p. 735. Picture from Encyclopædie van de Nederlandse Antillen. Amsterdam, 1969.

[12] Jaarverslag 2010

[13] Ibid

[14]  Jaarverslag 2004 van de Hoge Raad van Adel: Wapens.

[15] Jaarverslag 2010

[16] Ibid