Definitions

lawcourt

Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion. Variants of the Royal Arms are used by other members of the Royal Family; and by the British Government in connection with the administration and government of the country. In Scotland, the Queen has a separate version of the Royal Arms, a variant of which is used by the Scotland Office.

The shield is quartered, depicting in the first and fourth quarters the three lions passant guardant of England; in the second, the rampant lion and double tressure fleury-counter-fleury of Scotland; and in the third, a harp for Ireland.

The crest is a lion statant guardant wearing the imperial crown, itself on another representation of that crown.

The dexter supporter is a likewise crowned lion, symbolizing England; the sinister, a unicorn, symbolising Scotland. According to legend a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast; therefore the heraldic unicorn is chained, as were both supporting unicorns in the Royal coat of arms of Scotland.

The coat features both the motto of English monarchs, Dieu et mon droit (God and my right), and the motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shamed be he who thinks ill of it) on a representation of the Garter behind the shield.

The official blazon of the Royal Arms is as follows:

Quarterly, first and fourth Gules three lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure (for England), second quarter Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland), third quarter Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland), the whole surrounded by the Garter; for a Crest, upon the Royal helm the imperial crown Proper, thereon a lion statant gardant Or imperially crowned Proper; Mantling Or and ermine; for Supporters, dexter a lion rampant gardant Or crowned as the Crest, sinister a unicorn Argent armed, crined and unguled Proper, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lis a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or. Motto 'Dieu et mon Droit' in the compartment below the shield, with the Union rose, shamrock and thistle engrafted on the same stem.

Scotland

The Queen has a separate version of her arms for use in Scotland, giving the Scottish elements pride of place.

The shield is quartered, depicting in the first and fourth quarters the lion rampant of Scotland; in the second, the three lions passant guardant of England; and in the third, the harp of Ireland.

The crest atop the Crown of Scotland is a red lion, seated and forward facing, itself wearing the Crown of Scotland and holding the two remaining elements of the Honours of Scotland, namely the Sword of State and the Sceptre of Scotland. This was also the crest used in the Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland. The motto, in Scots, appears above the crest, in the tradition of Scottish heraldry, and is an abbreviated form of the full motto: In My Defens God Me Defend.

The supporters change sides and both appear wearing the crowns of their respective Kingdom. The dexter supporter is a crowned and chained unicorn, symbolising Scotland. The sinister supporter is a crowned lion, symbolising England. Between each supporter and the shield is a lance displaying the flag of their respective Kingdom.

The coat also features both the motto Nemo me impune lacessit (No-one wounds (touches) me with impunity) and, surrounding the shield, the collar of the Order of the Thistle.

Other nations in the United Kingdom

The official Irish royal crest (on a wreath Or and Azure, a tower triple-towered of the First, from the portal a hart springing Argent attired and unguled Or) is rarely if ever seen on the arms of the United Kingdom, as, unlike the Act of Union 1707 with Scotland, the Act of Union 1800 with Ireland did not provide for a separate Irish version of the royal arms.

However, the harp quarter of the Royal Arms represents Ireland on both the English and Scottish versions. Likewise, one English quarter is retained in the Scottish version, and one Scottish quarter is retained in the English version. Thus, England, Scotland and Ireland are represented in all versions of the Royal Arms since they came under one monarch.

By contrast, there is no representation at all for Wales in the Royal Arms, as at the Act of Union 1707 Wales was considered an integral part of England pursuant to the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542, thus it can be argued Wales is represented in the English coat of arms. Wales was a kingdom when ruled by native Kings, some of whom united it under one Crown, but with the English conquest it largely ceased to exist as a distinct legal entity. The Prince of Wales has ever since been the monarch's heir apparent.

Upon the accession of the Tudor Kings and Queens, who were themselves of Welsh descent, a Welsh dragon was used as a supporter on the Royal Arms. This was dropped by their successors, the Scottish House of Stuart, who replaced the Tudors' dragon supporter with the Scottish unicorn.

In the twentieth century, the arms of the principality of Wales were added as an inescutcheon to the coat of arms of the Prince of Wales, and a banner of those arms with a green inescutcheon bearing the Prince's crown is flown as his personal standard in Wales. The so-called Prince of Wales's feathers are a heraldic badge rather than a coat of arms upon a shield, but they are not Welsh in any case. They derive, in fact, from the English Princes of Wales (who allegedly owe them to an exploit of Edward, the Black Prince at the Battle of Crécy) and carry a German motto. In any event, they do not form part of the Royal Arms, as opposed to the heraldic achievement of the Prince of Wales, who drops them upon his accession as King.

Uses

The Royal Arms as shown above may only be used by the Queen herself. They also appear in court rooms, since the monarch is the fount of justice in the UK and the law Court is part of the Court of the monarch (hence its name). Judges are officially representatives of the crown, demonstrated by the Queen's Coat of Arms which sits behind the judge on the wall of every court in the land, with the exception of the magistrates court in the City of London, in which a sword stands vertically behind the judge which is flanked by the arms of the City and the Crown.

The British Government also uses the Royal Coat of Arms as a national symbol of the United Kingdom, and, in that capacity, the Coat of Arms can be seen on several government documents and forms, passports, in the entrance to embassies and consulates, etc. However, when used by the government and not by the sovereign herself, the coat of arms is often represented without the helm. This is also the case with the sovereign's Scottish arms, a version of which is used by the Scotland Office.

The Royal Arms have regularly appeared on the coinage produced by the Royal Mint including, for example, from 1663, the Guinea and, from 1983, the British one pound coin. In 2008, a new series of designs for all seven coins of £1 and below was unveiled by the Royal Mint, every one of which is drawn from the Royal Arms. The full Royal Arms appear on the one pound coin, and sections appear on each of the other six, such that they can be put together like a puzzle to make another complete representation of the Royal Arms.

The Queen awards Royal Warrants to various businesses that supply the Royal Household. This allows the business to display the Royal Arms on their packaging and stationery.

A banner of the arms, the Royal Standard is flown from the Royal Palaces when the Queen is in residence; and from public buildings only when the Queen is present. At royal residences such as Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, the Queen's main residence, the Royal Standard is flown to indicate when the monarch is in residence. This protocol equally applies to the monarch's principal residences in Scotland, (Holyrood Palace and Balmoral Castle), where the Royal Standard as used in Scotland is flown. When the monarch is not in residence the Union Flag, or in Scotland the ancient Royal Standard of Scotland, is flown.

The Royal Arms is also a symbol for all the courts in British Columbia, Canada.

History

The current Royal Arms are a combination of the arms of the Kingdoms that make up the United Kingdom, and can be traced back to the first arms of the Kings of England and Kings of Scots. Various alterations occurred over the years as the arms of other realms acquired or claimed by the Kings were added to the Royal Arms. The table below tracks the changes in the Royal Arms from the original arms of King Henry II of England, and William I, King of Scots.

Kingdom of England Kingdom of Scotland
Arms Dates Details
1154 - 1189 The first known English Royal arms, a golden lion, rampant, on a red field was first used by King Henry II.
1189 - 1198 The first arms of King Richard I "The Lionheart", two golden lions, rampant, on a red field.
1198 - 1340 The later arms of King Richard I "The Lionheart", three golden leopards or lions, passant gardant, on a red field.
1340 - 1367 King Edward III quartered the Royal Arms of England with the ancient arms of France, the fleurs-de-lis on a blue field, to signal his claim to the French throne.
1367 - 1399 King Richard II impaled the Royal Arms of England with the ancient seal of King Edward the Confessor.
1399 - 1422 King Henry IV updated the French arms to the modern version, three fleurs-de-lis on a blue field.
1422 - 1461 King Henry VI impaled the French and English arms.
1461 - 1470 King Edward IV restored the arms of King Henry IV.
1470 - 1471 King Henry VI restored the impaled French and English arms, upon his readeption.
1471 - 1554 King Edward IV restored the arms to quarterly France and England upon recapturing the throne.
1554 - 1558 Queen Mary I impaled her arms with those of her husband, King Philip. Although Queen Mary I's father, King Henry VIII, assumed the title "King of Ireland" and this was further conferred upon King Philip, the arms were not altered to feature the Kingdom of Ireland.
1558 - 1603 Queen Elizabeth I restored the arms of King Henry IV.

Arms Dates Details
12th century - 1558 A red lion, rampant, on a yellow field within a double royal tressure, flory counter-flory, first used by King William I, and later by his successors, and becoming the heraldic representation of Scotland.
1558 - 1559 Mary I, Queen of Scots, impaled with the arms of Francis, Dauphin of France, King consort of Scots..
1559 - 1560 Mary I, Queen of Scots and Queen consort of France.
1560 - 1565 Mary I, Queen of Scots and Queen dowager of France.
1565 - 1603 Upon her (second) marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley in 1565, Mary discontinues the arms of Scotland and France impaled, reverting to those of the Kingdom of Scotland. King James VI is the last monarch of Scotland to use these arms prior to the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
The Union of the Crowns places England, Ireland and Scotland under one monarch
Arms Dates Details
1603 - 1649 James VI, King of Scots inherits the English and Irish thrones in 1603, (Union of the Crowns), and quarters the Royal Arms of England with those of Scotland. For the first time, the Royal Coat of Arms of Ireland is added to represent the Kingdom of Ireland. (The Scottish version differs in that the Scottish elements take pride of place).
1649 - 1660 English Interregnum During the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, the arms were changed, consisting of the flags of England, Scotland, and Ireland quartered and the arms of Oliver Cromwell on a shield in the center.
1660 - 1689 Charles II restored the Royal Arms.
1689 - 1702 King James II & VII is deposed and replaced with his daughter Mary and her husband, William, Prince of Orange ruling jointly as William III & II and Mary II. An escutcheon of Nassau (the royal house to which William belonged) was added (a golden lion rampant on a blue field).
1702 - 1707 Queen Anne inherits the throne upon the death of King William III & II, and the Royal Arms return to the 1603 version
1707 - 1714 The Acts of Union 1707 created the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707-1800). The Royal Arms of England and Scotland are impaled and moved to the first and fourth quarters, France second quarter and Ireland third quarter.
1714 - 1801 The Elector of Hanover inherits the throne following the death of Queen Anne under the provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701, becoming King George I. The fourth quarter of the arms is changed to reflect the new King's domains in Hanover (Brunswick-Lüneburg-Westphalia, surmounted by Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire for the Holy Roman office of Archbannerbearer/Archtreasurer).
1801 - 1837 The Act of Union 1801 unites the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. King George III drops the ancient claim to the French throne. The Royal Arms change, with England now occuping the first and fourth quarters, Scotland the second, Ireland the third. For the Electorate of Hanover, there is an inescutcheon surmounted by the electoral bonnet. This is replaced in 1816 by a Royal Crown when Hanover was declared a Kingdom.
1837 - present The accession of Queen Victoria ends the personal union between the UK and Hanover, as Salic law prevents a woman ascending the Hanoverian throne. The escutcheon of Hanover is removed and the Royal Arms remain the same. There is no attempt to alter the Royal Arms to reflect later titles acquired by the British monarch such as Emperor of India. The Harp of the Kingdom of Ireland remains despite partition in 1921 and the successor to the Irish Free State, the Republic of Ireland, leaving the British Commonwealth in 1948. The Royal Arms do not incorporate any specific element for Northern Ireland or Wales, neither being a Kingdom. Consisting of six of the nine counties of Ulster (a Province of the Kingdom of Ireland), Northern Ireland remains an administrative division of the UK. Wales, once an independent Principality, following English conquest falls within the Kingdom of England. However, the Prince of Wales places arms for Wales at the centre of his personal arms. (A separate version of the Royal Arms are used in Scotland).

Other variants

Royal Family

Members of the British Royal Family receive their own personalised arms which are based on the Royal Arms. Only children and grandchildren in the male line of the monarch are entitled to receive their own arms in this fashion. The arms of children of the monarch are differentiated by a three point label; grandchildren of the monarch are differentiated by a five point label. An exception is made for the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, who received a three point label. Since 1911, the arms of the Prince of Wales also has an inescutcheon of the ancient arms of the Principality of Wales.

Queens consort and the wives of sons of the monarch also receive their own personalised coat of arms. Typically this will be the arms of their husband impaled with their own personal arms or those of their father. However, the consorts of a Queen regnant are not entitled to use the Royal Arms. Thus Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh uses his own personal arms.

Currently the following members of the Royal Family have their own arms based on the Royal Arms:

Children and grandchildren of the monarch in the male line
Arms/Standard Bearer Difference
align="center" HRH The Prince of Wales Plain three-point label, and inescutcheon of the Coat of Arms of the Principality of Wales.
align="center" HRH Prince William of Wales Three-point label with a red escallop, alluding to the arms of his mother, Lady Diana Spencer.
align="center" HRH Prince Henry of Wales Five-point label with three red escallops in alternate points.
align="center" HRH The Duke of York Three-point label, the centre point bearing a blue anchor.
align="center" HRH Princess Beatrice of York Five-point label with three Bees in alternate points.
HRH Princess Eugenie of York Five-point label with three Thistle in alternate points.
align="center" HRH The Earl of Wessex Three-point label, the centre point bearing a Tudor rose.
align="center" HRH The Princess Royal Three-point label, the points bearing a red cross, a red heart and a red cross.
align="center" HRH The Duke of Gloucester Five-point label, the first, third and fifth points bearing a red cross, the second and fourth points bearing a red lion.
align="center" HRH The Duke of Kent Five-point label, the first, third and fifth points bearing a blue anchor, the second and fourth points bearing a red cross.
align="center" HRH Prince Michael of Kent Five-point label, the first, third and fifth points bearing a red cross, the second and fourth points bearing a blue anchor.
align="center" HRH Princess Alexandra Five-point label, the first and fifth points bearing a red heart, the second and fourth points bearing a blue anchor, and the third bearing a red cross.
Consorts
align="center" HRH The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip was granted arms of his own in 1947, because men are not entitled to bear the arms of their wives. His arms are quarterly Denmark, Greece, and Mountbatten, representing his ancestry, and Edinburgh, representing his dukedom.
align="center" HRH The Duchess of Cornwall The arms of the Prince of Wales impaled with those of her father, Major Bruce Shand, crowned by the single-arched Crown of Prince of Wales.
align="center" HRH The Countess of Wessex The arms of the Earl of Wessex impaled with her own personal arms.

Government

Her Majesty's Government uses a version of the Royal Arms but without the helm or crest, as a result of which the crown sits atop the shield. In relation to Scotland, the Scotland Office uses the Scottish version, again without the helm or crest, and the same was used as the day-to-day logo of the Scottish Executive until September 2007, when a rebranding exercise introduced the name Scottish Government, together with a revised logo incorporating the flag of Scotland.

The Arms feature on

It is also used by the following government departments

Blazon

This table breaks down the official blazons to enable comparison of the differences between the general coat and the coat used in Scotland.

Everywhere except Scotland Scotland
Quarterly I & IV Gules three lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure Or a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory-counter-flory of the second
II Or a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory-counter-flory of the second Gules three lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure
III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent
Surrounded by The Garter The collar of the Order of the Thistle
Crest Upon the Royal helm the imperial crown Proper, thereon a lion statant gardant Or imperially crowned Proper Upon the Royal helm the crown of Scotland Proper, thereon a lion sejant affronté Gules armed and langued Azure, Royally crowned Proper holding in his dexter paw a sword and in his sinister a sceptre, both Proper
Supporters Dexter a lion rampant gardant Or imperially crowned Proper, sinister a unicorn Argent, armed, crined and unguled Or, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lis a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or Dexter a unicorn Argent Royally crowned Proper, armed, crined and unguled Or, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lis a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or holding the standard of Saint Andrew, sinister a lion rampant gardant Or imperially crowned Proper holding the standard of Saint George
Motto Dieu et mon Droit (French) In My Defens God Me Defend, abbr. In Defens (Scots)
Order Motto Garter: Honi soit qui mal y pense (Old French) Thistle: Nemo me impune lacessit (Latin)

See also

References

External links

Search another word or see lawcourton Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;