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In the royal warrant of 1569, King John I decreed that the golden cross should always be borne on Swedish battle banners. The oldest recorded pictures of the blue flag with a yellow cross date from the end of the 16th century, while reliable evidence that it was also the ensign of Swedish vessels dates from the 1620s. According to the oldest existing flag warrant from 1663, a triple- tailed flag was to be used by all except merchant ships, whose ensign was rectangular. Nowadays, use of the triple- tailed flag is reserved for the royal family and armed forces. The design of the flag was influenced by the Danish Dannebrog its colours were from the coat of arms. The main shield of the Great Arms of Sweden is divided quarterly and charged with the three crowns of Sweden (in the first and fourth quarters) and the lion of the Folkung dynasty (in the second and third quarters). This arrangement, with a golden cross separating four blue fields, was introduced by King Karl VIII Knutsson in 1448, and set the pattern for the flag. There are very close ties between Sweden and Denmark, so it cannot be a concidence that the Swedes added the cross to the arms, as the Danes did in the 14th century, and adopted a flag of the same pattern as the Danish Dannebrog