The colours red and yellow are from the Scottish and Norwegian royal coats of arms, which both use yellow and red, with a lion rampant. The flag symbolises the islands' Scottish and Norwegian heritage. The blue is taken from the flag of Scotland and also represents the sea and the maritime heritage of the islands.
The new flag resembles the flags of Norway (white for yellow) and Åland (colours reversed). The issue of the supposed similarity with the flag of the Norwegian fascist Vidkun Quisling's party Nasjonal Samling was raised in The Orcadian in May 2007. That flag however did not include the blue cross, which make the two easily distinguishable. It should also be noted that a red–yellow flag was, and still is, used by people in the Swedish province of Skåne years before Nasjonal Samling used a red–yellow cross flag. A red–yellow cross flag is also used by Swedish-speaking Finns.