Category Archives: Royalty

Duke of Sussex Coat 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.

So…no changes.

Prince of Wales’ Investiture 50 years on…

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.

God Bless the Prince of Wales!

Duchess of Sussex Coat of Arms

Despite my speculation in a previous post the newly-created coat of arms for the Duchess of Sussex was released today!


According to the website of the Royal Family:

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 Duchess of Sussex

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.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

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.


King of Thailand, RIP

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.


Yet More on Variations

Again, a continuation of this examination of different versions, as opposed to merely different renderings of the exact same version, of the coat of arms of one armiger used at various times, for certain occasions, for a specific place or group or to either add to or subtract from the elaboration of the display. We turn once again to the glorious Imperial arms of the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, later to be the Austro-Hungarian Emperor.

First we have the “small” arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine (displaying the arms of Habsburg, Babenberg and Lorraine impaled together on the shield.

13726824_10208089859297016_8059400258853156733_nThe second image shows the “medium” common coat of arms of Austria Hungary with the shields of (counterclockwise): Hungary, Galicia, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Carinthia & Carniola, Silesia & Moravia, Transylvania, Illyria and Bohemia. This was used from 1867-1915.

Third, we see the “small” arms of Hungary.

Fourth is the “medium” coat of arms of Hungary also displaying: Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Transylvania, the city of Rijeka and the Kingdom of Hungary on the inescutcheon.

Next, the fifth example is the “medium” coat of arms of Austria.


The sixth is the small common coat of arms of the dual monarchy from 1915-1918.



Finally, the seventh is the “medium” common arms used 1915-1918.

One Emperor: lots of versions of his coat of arms all of which are his.

More Variety

Another in this kind of series I’m doing on single armigers with various versions of their coats of arms. This time it is Elizabeth II, well, really the British Sovereign regardless of who it is. The first is a “small” version. You can see this one carved in stone on the facade of Buckingham Palace but it shows up most frequently on Letters Patent for a grant of arms.


The second is a kind of “middle version” and it is versions like this frequently used by the government on documents and signage.


The third is, of course, the “large” or full armorial achievement.


Next is the Royal arms as used in Scotland (same sovereign but a different version of the arms).


Fifth is the Royal arms OF Scotland as opposed to the Royal arms of the U.K. as used IN Scotland.


Finally, one used by the sovereign for the Duchy of Lancaster. (By the way even though the Queen is a woman she is still the “Duke” of Lancaster).


Reginald Cardinal Pole

The other day I neglected to make note of the anniversary of the death of Reginald Cardinal Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury and a man with a better claim to the English throne than the illegitimate Elizabeth I. His impressive coat of arms depicts: Quarterly of eight: 1. Quarterly France (modern) and England with a label of three points each charged with a canton Gules (Clarence); 2. Per pale Or and Sable a saltire engrailed counterchanged (Pole); 3. Gules a saltire Argent with a label of three points gobony Argent and Azure (neville); 4. Gules a fess between six cross cross lets Or (Beauchamp); 5. Chequy Or and Azure a chevron ermine (Newburgh); 6. Argent three fusils in fess Gules (Montague); 7. Or an eagle displayed Vert armed and beaked Gules (Monthermer); 8. Quarterly i and iv Or three chevrons Gules (Clare); ii and iii Quarterly Argent and Gules, a fret Or, overall a bend Sable (Despencer). The two crosses indicate his archiepiscopal and legantine powers. On the small shields are the arms of the See of Canterbury and the Cathedral Chapter. The image is of the achievement of his arms hanging above his tomb.

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And Still More Noble Cardinals

Since these have been so well received I thought I would share some more of my favorites from among those Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church who were from well known armigerous and noble aristocratic families.

First we see the arms of Johann Theodor Cardinal Wittelsbach von Bayern, Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Panisperna. He was created cardinal “in pectore” in 1743 and proclaimed in 1746. He was also Prince-Bishop of Liège, Friesing & Regensburg. The arms are:

Quarterly of six; 1 (Friesing) Or a moor’s head Sable couped at the neck crowned and collared Gules, 2 (Regensburg) Gules a bend Argent, 3 to 6  (Liège) Gules a column Argent, Gules a fess Argent, Argent three lions rampant vert, Barry Or and Gules a point in point Or three hunting horns Azure; Overall on an escutcheon Bavaria (fussily in bend Argent and Azure) quartering Palatinate (Sable a lion rampant Or). The supporters are two lions Or.


Next are the arms of Luis Antonio Jaime de Borbón y Farnesio, de Baviera y d’Este who was born the youngest son of King Philip V, King of Spain, and his second wife, Elizabeth Farnese. While barely eight years of age, Luis was created 699th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1735 and ordained Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain on 9 September 1735, and subsequently named Cardinal Deacon of the Title of the church of Santa Maria della Scala in Rome on 19 December. On 18 December 1754 he abandoned the ecclesiastical life for lack of vocation, renounced his ecclesiastical titles and dignities and assumed the title of 13th Conde de Chinchón granted by his brother Infante Felipe.

When his older half-brother King Ferdinand VI died without issue in 1759, Luis claimed the throne on the grounds that, he was the only surviving son of Philip V who was born in Spain, and the only one still residing in Spain (his older brothers were Charles, King of Naples and Sicily, and Philip, Duke of Parma, both reigning in Italy). However valid his claim, Luis lost the succession to his oldest brother Charles, while Charles’ third son became Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.

The arms are: Quarterly 1: (Castile) Gules a triple towered castle Or quartering (Leon) Argent a lion rampant Purpure; 2: (Argaon) Or five pallets Gules impaling (Sicily) Per saltire Aragon and Argent two eagles in fess displayed Sable; a point in point between the two quarters of (Granada) Argent a pomegranate Proper; 3: Per fess (Austria) Gules a fess Argent and (Burgundy  ancient) bendy Or and Azure, a border Gules; 4: Per fess (Burgundy modern) Azure, semeé de lis Or, a border compony Argent and Gules and (Brabant) Sable a lion rampant Or; two inescutcheon in pale the first (Bourbon) Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or, a bordure Gules; the second tierces in pale (Visconti) Argent a viper vorant Azure crowned Or and devouring a child Gules; (Flanders) Or a lion rampant Sable membered Gules, And (Tyrol) Argent, an eagle displayed Gules.


This cardinal, because of his failed claim to the throne, could also be numbered among the “royal” cardinals as well.

(artwork by the late Michael McCarthy)

More Royal Cardinals

Back in October of last year I posted about a Cardinal who was also the King of Portugal. He wasn’t alone in the College of Cardinals. In addition to numerous noblemen there have been other royal Cardinals as well. Below we see two more.

Casimir of Poland who was named a cardinal in 1646 but resigned from the College of Cardinals in 1648 to assume the throne as Jan II Casimir, King of Poland. His arms depict what was then the arms of Poland, namely:

Quarterly 1&4 Gules, an eagle displayed Argent membered and armed Or; 2&3 Gules a knight on horseback (Vytautas) Argent saddled Azure holding a shield Azure charged with a double-barred cross Or. Overall an escutcheon bearing Sweden: A cross patteé throughout Or between 1&4 Azure three crowns Or; 2&3 bendy sinister Argent an Azure overall a lion rampant Or; on an escutcheon in pretense per bend wise Azure, Argent, Gules all charged a Vasa Or.

sc01ad3a68a copy

Next is the possibly familiar arms of Henry Cardinal Stuart, acknowledged by many to be the legitimate heir to the English crown as Henry IX. Henry Benedict Mary Clement Stuart was the Duke of York as well as the Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Portico. He was later made Bishop of Frascati, Bishop of Ostia & Velletri in 1803. He died in 1807 never having taken his rightful place on the throne of Great Britain & Ireland. His arms were the royal arms of the Stuarts, namely:

Quarterly 1&4 Grand Quarters (England & France) 1&4 Azure three fleur-de-lis Or and 2&3 Gules three lions passant guardant Or; 2 (Scotland) Or a lion rampant Gules armed Azure within a double treasure flory counter flory Gules; 3 (Ireland) Azure a harp Or. The arms are supported by the lion of England and the unicorn of Scotland, royal supporters since the time of James I. The arms usually depicts the cadence mark of a silver crescent at the center but this was omitted after he assumed the title Henry IX as Pretender to the throne. This version also include the royal crown rather than a ducal coronet.


(all artwork by the late Michael McCarthy)

The Nobility in The Clergy

Here we have two examples of the arms that became well known in Europe as being associated with territories or noble families being employed by members of the hierarchy, Cardinals to be exact, in their ecclesiastical achievements. The first is of Innio de Avalos de Aragon Cardinal Deacon of S. Lucia in Silice. He was Bishop of Sabina in 1586, Bishop of Frascati in 1589 and Bishop of Porto in 1591. The arms are:

Quarterly, 1&4 per pale Aragon, Hungary, Anjou (ancient) and Jerusalem; 2&3 Grand Quarterly 1&4 Azure, a triple towered castle Or, a bordure compony Argent & Gules; 2&3 Bendy Or and Gules quartering per fess Or and Gules a lion rampant Counterchanged.


The next one is the arms of Damian Hugo Philip von Schönborn, Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicolo in Carcere, Prince-Bishop of Speyer. The arms are:

Speyer (Quarterly 1&4 Azure a cross throughout Argent; 2&3 Gules a crozier in bend Or debruised by a two towered castle Or) overall on an escutcheon Gules on three piles issuant in base Argent a lion passant crowned Or (Schönborn) and below the shield on another shield Argent the cross of the Teutonic Order. Supporters: Two lions affronteé crowned Or, armed and langued Gules each supporting a banner, to dexter of the Empire and to sinister of Austria


(artwork for both is by the late Michael McCarthy)

A Possibility if Scotland Votes For Independence (UPDATED)

Just today the news has been spreading that, for the first time, the polls are showing that those who seem to favor voting for Scottish independence are in the majority, albeit an ever so slight one (within the margin of error, in fact). The vote is less than two weeks away and what once seemed like a proposition that was surely not going to pass now looks like it may have a fighting chance. It will be interesting to see the result of the vote. Polls can be deceiving and in the time remaining it may swing the other way agin. I’m not interested in discussing the politics involved. However, there is a possibility, and it is just that: merely a possibility, that there could be some heraldic ramifications for the Queen if Scotland becomes independent.

At present, the plan is that even if Scotland votes for independence it would remain a constitutional monarchy. Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, has indicated that there is no plan to declare a republic, at least not immediately. Rather, Her Majesty would still be Queen of Scotland and act as the Scottish Head of State in an independent Scotland. However, such a scenario could remove Scotland from the United Kingdom. So, as the Queen is in some sixteen countries already she would be the sovereign of Scotland and she would continue to be the sovereign of the U.K. with the difference that the U.K. would no longer include Scotland. This would not be unique. The Queen is Queen of Canada, Queen of Australia and Queen of New Zealand, for example. None of those countries is in the U.K but she is, nonetheless, sovereign of those nations.

With an independent Scotland the United Kingdom would consist of England (including Wales) and Northern Ireland. Currently the U.K is described as a united kingdom of “Great Britain and Northern Ireland” meaning all of the territory on the island of Britain as well as the northern part of the the separate island where Ireland is located. (NOTE: the Channel Islands are possessions of the Queen but not part of the U.K.) I suppose it could be argued that if she remains the Queen of Scotland then she could still be said to be Queen of Great Britain. However, the point of this referendum is that now Great Britain and N. Ireland is all one country and the Scottish people will be voting on whether or not they want Scotland to be a separate country. This would make it a separate country with its own monarch who happens to be the same person as the monarch of the U.K. as is the case with Canada, Australia, etc. While those working for an independent Scotland have assured the voters that there is no plan at present to dump the monarchy that does not mean it might not be considered at some future time, such as after the passing of the present Queen. In fairness, it should be pointed out that it would also be possible to have a politically independent Scotland while maintaining a monarchial union, that is to say, that Scotland would continue to be part of a United Kingdom with its own separate government.

So, all of this could, I say could, potentially have heraldic ramifications. The current coat of arms used by HM reflects, in its quarterings, the various lands that make up the United Kingdom: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales does not have a separate quartering because it is considered to be part of England, although, in fairness, perhaps not by all the Welsh! Many are probably familiar with the fact that the Queen uses a slightly different coat of arms when in Scotland. In that version the Scottish quarter receives pride of place, as does the Scottish supporter (the unicorn), the crest is different and the collar encircling the shield is that of the Order of the Thistle instead of the Garter. Nevertheless, this is a different version of the arms of the United Kingdom. The quarters for England and N. Ireland are still included. However, the Queen also has a separate coat of arms in right of Canada and also makes use of badges and other heraldic insignia in her other realms.

This begs the question of what may, again I say may, happen to the royal arms if Scotland becomes an independent country and is no longer part of the United Kingdom. Officials at Buckingham Palace have indicated that the Queen may find it better to appoint a Governor-General to represent her in Scotland as there is in places like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In such a case then perhaps HM will make use of the Scottish royal arms all alone as would be her lawful right as sovereign of an independent Scotland?


In addition, modifications would need to be made to the royal arms as used in the U.K. This would mark the first major change in the royal arms since the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 at which time the inescutcheon of Hanover was removed from the royal arms because the Salic Law prevented a woman from succeeding to the throne of Hanover. It would also mark the first time there was a significant change in the four quarterings of the arms since 1801 when the quarter for France was removed from the arms of George III. The quarter for Scotland would be removed from the royal arms as it would no longer be part of the U.K. and, very likely the thistle would be removed from the compartment at the base of the achievement. It might also be possible that the unicorn supporter might be replaced. So instead of the current royal arms (below left) we could conceivably end up with something more like (below right)

sc00109f8e      Image

Again, it is worth noting that in this hastily prepared image I did not take the time to remove the thistle from the compartment or to replace the unicorn supporter. While the former would almost certainly be done it is really uncertain that the supporter would be changed so that there would be two lion supporters. The last time one of the supporters in the royal arms was changed was 1603 when James I succeeded Elizabeth I and replaced the dragon with a unicorn. It could be argued that leaving the unicorn supporter in the royal arms even if Scotland becomes independent is acceptable. It would also not be unthinkable simply to have two lion supporters as in the image below (left). Personally, I’d like to see the reintroduction of the Welsh dragon supporter especially as Wales doesn’t get a quarter of its own on the shield. (Image below right). But, I am getting waaaaaaay ahead of things. All of this would have to be discussed and worked out properly in consultation with the Earl Marshal and HM College of Arms in London as well as the Court of Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. It seems, however, that there would be little reason to include a quarter for Scotland in royal arms of the sovereign of the U.K. if Scotland is no longer in that same U.K. Otherwise, quarterings for all of HM realms and territories would already be included in the royal arms and, of course, such is not the case.

Image 4     Image 6

Indeed, it will be interesting and, by all recent accounts, now much more exciting to see the outcome of the September 18 referendum. Most people will, rightly, be concerned with the political, the economic, and the social aspects of an independent Scotland. It will also be interesting to see if and how the admittedly minor heraldic aspect of it all is resolved as well.