This past week it was announced from Buckingham Palace that HRH the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh would be withdrawing from public engagements due to his advanced age. This led not a few of my friends, the the real kind and the Facebook kind, to write or comment on the Duke’s well-known coat of arms (below).
In addition, as seems to be the case all the time now, there ensued a discussion about how the coat of arms presently used by HRH, and used by him since 1949, was not the original design.
In 1947 the arms devised for him were these:
This coat of arms combined the coat of arms of the royal house of Greece, into which Prince Philip was born, those being Greece with an inescutcheon of the royal arms of Denmark because that family, Oldenburg-Glücksburg, was also the royal family of Greece. When the Greek monarchy was established they solicited a Danish prince to become King George I of the Hellenes rather than any Greek citizen. In addition to the Greek royal arms a small inescutcheon of the arms of Princess Alice, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was included in dexter chief.
This coat of arms was used by him at the time he married Princess Elizabeth of York and was created Duke of Edinburgh.
However, in 1949 the College of Arms revised the design of the Duke’s coat of arms as the earlier design was deemed too busy. They came up with the design currently in use which combines quarters for Denmark, Greece, Battenberg (because his mother, Princess Alice, was also a Battenberg, a name later changed to Mountbatten which is the family name used by Prince Philip and assumed by him when he became a naturalized British citizen and renounced any claim to his Greek and Danish titles) and the arms of the city of Edinburgh for his title.
However, just for fun, because this is how heraldists have fun, I drew up a rough little sketch and cut-and-pasted it together with a black and white drawing of the Duke’s original arms to depict something of what I might have proposed for the design of the arms of HRH in 1949 when it was decided to try and simplify the achievement.
Here I have combined quarters for Denmark (1) and Greece (4) reflecting that he was born a Prince of Greece with Danish ancestry. There is also a quarter (2) depicting what is usually on the smallest inescutcheon of the Danish royal arms, namely, the dynastic arms of Oldenburg-Glücksburg, the cadet branch of Oldenburg which succeeded to the Danish throne and the paternal family of Prince Philip. I have included a quarter for Battenberg for his maternal family. Finally, the allusion to his title of Edinburgh is placed on an inescutcheon overall. It’s not as simple as the Duke’s current arms but it is still a simplification over the arms he originally bore and it displays connections to the countries of his origin as well as the family arms of both sides of his family while including a mention of his title. It was just a bit of fun.