It’s not all that easy to find heraldic references to Advent. Nevertheless, one which I came across many years ago and of which I always think at this time of the year is the very fine coat of arms of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama. This is the cathedral church for the Episcopalian Diocese. They had a devisal of arms produced for them by HM College of Arms in London. It is, overall, a most pleasing design and I particularly like how an Advent wreath was incorporated.
The Church enters into the final week Advent this week and I wanted to be sure to point out this excellently done coat of arms before the season had left us again.
US Army General Colin Luther Powell, who served as U.S. Secretary of State from 2001-2005, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989-1993 and as National Security Advisor from 1987-1989 died on October 18, 2021 at age 84 from blood cancer and Parkinson’s Disease both of which had been complicated by Covid-19.
Some people knew, but many didn’t, that Powell had British ancestry and that his father, Luther Powell, had been granted a coat of arms by Her Majesty through Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland. In addition, Lord Lyon granted a unique crest to General Powell. The achievement is:
When Lord Lyon Robin Blair travelled to Washington, DC to deliver the Letters Patent of the grant to General Powell in 2004 he attended a cocktail party the night before in suburban Virginia given by American members of the Heraldry Society of Scotland. I was at that party. Lord Lyon was kind enough to bring the Letters Patent with him to the party for all of us heraldic enthusiasts to see. So, we were all privileged to see the grant even before Colin Powell did!
May he rest in peace.
The version above was rendered by Andrew Stewart Jamieson.
Since 1894 there have been nine Presidents of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Five of them have also been armigerous in their own right. The first IOC President, Demetrius Vikelas, was not and neither were the fourth, Sigfrid Edström, the fifth, Avery Brundage, or the ninth and current IOC President, Thomas Bach.
On July 2 David Vines White (59) was appointed Garter Principal King of Arms at HM College of Arms in London. This is the most senior of the three Kings of Arms. He had previously been Somerset Herald and before that Rouge Croix Pursuivant. He succeeds Sir Thomas Woodcock who has served as Garter since 2010. Congratulations to the new Garter King of Arms!
In light of the recent announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry & Meghan) will be stepping back from duties as senior royals and, consequently no longer styling themselves as “royal highness” not a few people have contacted me to ask out of curiosity if this in any way will have an impact on the coats of arms they both use.
The simple answer is, “No”.
As the grandson of the sovereign Prince Harry employs a coat of arms that indicates he was born a grandson of the sovereign. British royal heraldry is different than many other countries in that the sovereigns children and grandchildren generally bear the royal arms differenced by a variety of labels of either three or five points and the points are charged with marks of difference. That’s really rather boring if you asked me but that’s what they do and they haven’t asked me!
So, when he turned 18 Harry was granted his own arms depicting the royal arms difference by a label of five points the first, third and fifth of which are charged with a red escallop shell. The shell is a charge borrowed from the coat of arms of his late mother, Diana (neé Spencer).
His supporters were also charged with the label for difference and the arms are surmounted by a special coronet used by the children of the heir to the throne. In addition, the royal crest is also charged with the label for difference.
Upon marrying his wife Harry was created Duke of Sussex. Nothing in his coat of arms was modified to reflect this title. Consequently, there is nothing to change in his coat of arms to reflect his new status of stepping down from a senior position in the royal family. He is still a grandson of the sovereign and son of the heir to the throne; he is still the Duke of Sussex; he is still actually an “HRH” but will choose not to style himself as such.
In fact, even after his grandmother passes away and he is the son of the sovereign and, indeed, even after his father passes away and he is the brother of the sovereign the crown used on his arms will remain unchanged as the crown for the child of the heir is identical to the crown used by children of the sovereign and siblings of the sovereign.
On July 1, 1969 Prince Charles was formally invested as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. He had been given these titles in 1958 and had, from the time of his mother’s accession to the throne been the Duke of Cornwall, the title traditionally held by the heir apparent to the British throne. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event.
In 2017 Prince Charles surpassed the record set by his illustrious ancestor, King Edward VII, by becoming the longest-serving Prince of Wales in history.
His arms (above) appear very much like those of his mother except that his are differenced by a white label (repeated on both supporters and the badge for Wales as well); in place of the compartment there is a device intertwining his motto and his badges as well as a small shield with the arms of Cornwall; there is an inescutcheon for Wales; and the crowns on the helm, the two small shields and the lion supporter all have a single arch as befits a Princely crown rather than a royal one which has two arches.
While it is not entirely unknown it is somewhat rare to find artistic depictions (i.e. “emblazonments”) of the personal coat of arms of a herald in some way marshaled with the heraldic devices or coat of arms associated with the heraldic office he holds.
It’s very common to see the arms of one of the English Kings of Arms, for example, or that of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. In addition, most heralds and pursuivants (Kings-of-Arms, Heralds and Pursuivants are collectively referred to as “heralds”, using the name of the so called middle rank) employ a heraldic badge to indicate their office. But, it is the somewhat rare occasion when such coats of arms or badges are displayed along with the individual heralds’ personal armorial bearings.
I happened to come across a very handsome one the other day causing me to begin searching the internet to find images of the personal arms of Garter Principal King of Arms, the officer of arms who is the most senior of the heralds in the English College of Arms, ranking immediately below the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk marshaled to those of the arms of office for Garter. I have, so far, only been able to find a few. I’ll begin with the newly appointed current Garter King of Arms and work backwards. NOTE: all of the personal coat of arms of the men who served as Garter King of Arms are known. However, here I am referring to depictions where their personal arms are impaled with those of the office of Garter.
David Vines White, 2021 –
Thomas Woodcock, 2010 – 2021
Sir Peter Gwynn-Jones, 1995 – 2010
Sir Conrad Swan, 1992-1995
Sir Colin Cole, 1978 – 1992
Sir Anthony Wagner, 1961 – 1978
The Hon. Sir George Bellew, 1950 – 1961
Sir Algar Howard, 1944 – 1950
(N.B.: according to the blazon of the arms there should be a crescent sable on the bend for difference.)
[Sir Gerald Wollaston, 1930 – 1944]
Sir Henry Farnham Burke, 1919 – 1930
Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, 1904 – 1918
Sir Albert Woods, 1869 – 1904
Sir Charles Young, 1842 – 1869
Sir William Woods, 1838 – 1842
[Sir Ralph Bigland, 1831 – 1838]
Sir George Nayler, 1822 – 1831
[Sir Isaac Heard, 1784 – 1822]
[Ralph Bigland, 1780 – 1784]
[Thomas Browne, 1744 – 1780]
[Sir Charles Townley, 1773 – 1774]
Stephen Martin Leake, 1754 – 1773
[John Anstis the younger, 1727 – 1754]
[John Anstis the elder, 1714 – 1744]
Sir Henry St. George the younger, 1703 – 1715
Sir Thomas St. George, 1686 – 1703
[Sir William Dugdale, 1677 – 1686]
[Sir Edward Bysshe, 1646 – 1660]
[Sir Edward Walker, 1645 – 1677]
Sir Henry St. George the elder, April – November, 1644
Thus far back was I able to discover depictions of the personal arms of the various Garter Kings of Arms impaled with the arms of office. Of course the office is much older than 1644. The first garter King of Arms, William Bruges, was appointed in 1417! I have only listed the bracketed names and dates of the Kings of Arms for whom I could not find examples of their impaled arms to fill in gaps between those that I did find. But, I’ll keep looking!
UPDATE: I added the newly-appointed present Garter principal King of Arms.
Recently a priest from the UK shared with me the recent (November, 2018) grant of arms he received from HM College of Arms. Of course there was a very fine example of Letters Patent illustrating the grant as well as laying out the blazon of arms. This is not an inexpensive or a quickly done process. Being a subject of HM, the Queen it was altogether correct, however, for Fr. Adam Gaunt to petition for and receive a grant of arms from the legitimate heraldic authority within the country in which he lives. It may take some time; it may cost a rather tidy sum but in the end it is well worth it.
The coat of arms itself (below) is illustrated ensigned by the appropriate ecclesiastical hat for a priest of the Church of England. That is to say with two black tassels suspended from cords composed of black and white skeins twisted together.
The Letters Patent also depict an heraldic crest on a helm with a horse and mantling which is most often seen employed in the arms of a layman not in holy orders. (below)
In addition, there are illustrations included of a heraldic badge, as well as an heraldic standard which is composed of the arms, crest and badge. (below)
Father Gaunt was kind enough to explain that, “The arms are an adaptation of those attributed by “ancient and uniform tradition” to my ancestor Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Lincoln.”
“He, (Gilbert) was of Flemish origin and related to the Counts of Flanders, who used the same heraldic colors and metals.”
Here in the United States we do not have a heraldic authority. That is not to say that Americans cannot employ coats of arms. On the contrary, Americans are armigerous but we may legally and correctly, which are two different things, assume a coat of arms. That is to say we are able simply to design and adopt a coat of arms for our own use. In England there is a heraldic authority which is not a government office but a private corporation which operates as a part of the royal household. While it is technically illegal for a person to assume a coat of arms in England there isn’t a very great likelihood that there will be any legal repercussions to doing so as there might be in, say, Scotland or South Africa. However, it is quite incorrect simply to assume arms in England.
Instead, it is both right and, I would hazard a guess, quite delightful to do as Fr. Gaunt has done and receive a grant of arms from HM College of Arms. Well done Fr. Gaunt!
The current Lord Lyon King of Arms, the principal heraldic authority for Her Majesty in Scotland is not only a heraldic expert and a jurist but he is also an ordained clergyman in the Scottish Episcopal Church (a.k.a. the Anglican Church north of the border). The Rev. Canon Dr. Joseph John Morrow, CBE, KStJ, QC, DL, LLD possesses a very nice coat of arms of his own.
This coat of arms can be displayed all alone or, as Lord Lyon sometimes has chosen to do, with the helm, mantling and crest of the typical armorial achievement.
However, sometimes this coat of arms is also displayed with the external ornaments proper to the Office of Lord Lyon King of Arms.
Additionally, the Office of Lord Lyon has its own armorial bearings which may be used by the incumbent of the office of Lord Lyon in a “greater” form:
as well as a “lesser” or smaller version.
Finally, the current Lord Lyon may choose to impale his personal arms with those of Lord Lyon and display them with the external ornaments of the office, including the red lion supporters:
or he may impale his personal arms with the arms of office and display them with some of the external ornaments of Lord Lyon as well as his own crest and supporters.
A Coat of Arms has been created for The Duchess of Sussex. The design of the Arms was agreed and approved by Her Majesty The Queen and Mr. Thomas Woodcock (Garter King of Arms and Senior Herald in England), who is based at the College of Arms in London.
Her Royal Highness worked closely with the College of Arms throughout the design process to create a Coat of Arms that was both personal and representative.
The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of The Duchess’s home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words.
Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California’s state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace.
It is customary for Supporters of the shield to be assigned to Members of the Royal Family, and for wives of Members of the Royal Family to have one of their husband’s Supporters and one relating to themselves. The Supporter relating to The Duchess of Sussex is a songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak, which with the quill represents the power of communication.
A Coronet has also been assigned to The Duchess of Sussex. It is the Coronet laid down by a Royal Warrant of 1917 for the sons and daughters of the Heir Apparent. It is composed of two crosses patée, four fleurs-de-lys and two strawberry leaves.
The arms of a married woman are shown with those of her husband and the technical term is that they are impaled, meaning placed side by side in the same shield.
Mr. Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms said: “The Duchess of Sussex took a great interest in the design. Good heraldic design is nearly always simple and the Arms of The Duchess of Sussex stand well beside the historic beauty of the quartered British Royal Arms. Heraldry as a means of identification has flourished in Europe for almost nine hundred years and is associated with both individual people and great corporate bodies such as Cities, Universities and for instance the Livery Companies in the City of London. ”
The coat of arms which will eventually be used by the new Duchess of Sussex may very well use a similar arrangement as the arms of the current Duchess of Gloucester (pictured). That is to say that rather than her father’s arms impaled on the same shield with her husband’s arms a coat of arms granted to her in her own right will be placed on a smaller escutcheon placed over her husband’s coat of arms.
It was reported in “The Daily Mail” that the reason a coat of arms devised for her father to be used by her as well did not appear in the days before the royal wedding is that the Queen decided the process for justifying such a grant was “too complicated” and that it would be better to do what had been done in the case of the Danish-born Duchess of Gloucester. At the time of her marriage in 1972 her husband, Richard, was the previous Duke’s second son. His older brother, William, was killed 6 weeks after their July, 1972 wedding making Richard the heir to the Dukedom (which he inherited on the death of his father in 1974).
Birgitte, the current Duchess, with no ancestors of British origin, was granted a coat of arms of her own by Royal Warrant in July, 1973, about a year after she married Richard.
So, it is not hard to imagine that Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex will, similarly, be given a coat of arms of her own in due course and that it might very well be displayed on a smaller shield placed over her husband’s coat of arms. The precedent has been set for such action.
The story in “The Daily Mail” said, “Mr Markle will not have his own coat of arms,’ confirms a senior source at the College of Arms, which acts on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry.
‘We were told it would be too ‘complicated’.
‘The Palace has instructed us to use the example of the Duchess of Gloucester and give Meghan Markle her own coat of arms instead.”
It will be interesting to see how this eventually works out but I’ll bet they do something similar for the Duchess of Sussex as was done for the Duchess of Gloucester who was also a non-armigerous foreigner who married into the Royal Family.
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.
The Right Reverend and Right Honorable Richard Chartres, KCVO, ChStJ, PC, FSA will be stepping down this month after twenty-two years as Bishop of London, the third most senior position in the hierarchy of the Church of England.
His coat of arms (above) depicts the arms of the See of London with its two crossed swords as an allusion to its patron, St. Paul impaled with his personal arms which depict a charge of a labyrinth. This, in my opinion, is a clever way to do a kind of canting arms the medieval labyrinth being a famous feature on the floor of Chartres cathedral.
Thanks to one of my regular correspondents for this fine image of the Bishop’s coat of arms.
This is one of those posts that has absolutely nothing to do with the heraldry of the Church. Those do come up occasionally on this blog but I try to keep them to a minimum. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, however, to discuss how, for what must be the first time in a quite a while (although its not unprecedented) both of this country’s major party candidates are heraldically connected, so to speak.
The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, is well known as a business man with hotels and resorts around the world. One such property is the golf course he built and owns in Scotland. To make it “look good” a logo for the place in the form of a coat of arms (not a particularly good one, in my opinion) was devised and used on their promotional materials. The problem is that Scotland happens to be one of the few countries where they take heraldry and the public use of heraldry very seriously.
The body that regulates heraldry in Scotland is the Court of Lord Lyon and indeed it is a standing civil and criminal court under the Scottish legal system. The incumbent of the office of Lord Lyon King of Arms is usually a lawyer well versed in the laws affecting genealogy and heraldry and he sits as judge over cases of dispute. By contrast the English Heralds are incorporated into a College and while there is Her Majesty’s High Court of Chivalry which has existed since the 14th C. and sits as a civil court to regulate all matters of English and Welsh heraldry it rarely sits. The last time was in 1954 for the case of Manchester Corp. v. Manchester Palace of Varieties, Ltd. Prior to that the court hadn’t sat for 200 years!
Trump’s self-designed and adopted coat of arms (above) ran afoul of the Scottish legal system in 2008 when it was asserted that he had no right to use the coat of arms. In 2012 the Court of Lord Lyon ruled in Trump’s favor and now he may make use of the coat of arms originally designed for his Aberdeen golf course. Trump’s mother is of Scottish origin and Lord Lyon claims jurisdiction worldwide over any Scot, even expats, or anyone with Scottish ancestry. Unfortunately, I do not have an image of the coat of arms in full color. I wonder if anyone in the Trump organization even bothered to have one made in full color since this is primarily used as a logo.
The Democrat Party candidate, Hillary Clinton, does not, as far as I know, have a coat of arms in her own right, but her husband does. In 1995, at the request of the Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister), Mr. John Bruton, the Chief Herald of Ireland devised and granted a coat of arms to Mr. Clinton whose mother was of Irish ancestry (below). It was presented to him as a gift on his state visit to Ireland. As I say, Mrs. Clinton does not have a coat of arms in her own right, at least not yet. Who knows? It is possible that another head of state may be asking another heraldic authority to grant her a coat of arms at some point in the future. Only time will tell.
Of course the way the election on November 8 will turn out remains to be seen and there is a great deal of speculation on both sides. It does seem to be far from certain even at this very late stage in the campaign. But, one thing is, nevertheless, absolutely certain. Regardless of the result of the voting that will take place across the United States next Tuesday one of the two people mentioned above, Trump or Clinton, come next January 20th will be able to make use of yet another old and venerable means of identification that employs the ancient and respected use of heraldry as a large part of its symbolism. It’s an armorial seal…
With the death of King Bhumibol of Thailand, who was the world’s longest reigning monarch at the time of his death, the country enters into a period of mourning under a regent until the accession of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. According to Thai law Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council, assumes the regency until the accession of the new king.
While the former Kingdom of Siam made use of an emblem a bit more similar to the western idea of a coat of arms the current royal emblem or “arms”, which appears on the yellow royal standard, is the Buddhist Garuda.
Appearing in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, Garuda is the mystical firebird who serves as the mount of the god Vishnu. Garuda appears as the coat of arms of the Republic of Indonesia as well as the royal emblem of the Kingdom of Thailand.