Category Archives: Royalty

Holyrood Week


As Queen Elizabeth begins her annual week of engagements in Scotland and is in residence at Holyrood in Edinburgh we will be seeing a lot of the royal arms as used in Scotland. The Scottish quarter takes precedence as does the unicorn supporter. The crest and motto are also different as is the Order of the Thistle surrounding the shield as opposed to the Garter.

Primate of the Swedish Church


Above is the coat of arms of Archbishop Antje Jackelén, the Bishop of Lund in the Church of Sweden elected as the first woman to be Archbishop of Uppsala and Primate of the Church of Sweden. She was installed at Uppsala on June 15, 2014. Below is a photo of the new archbishop with (l.-r.) Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Archbishop Anders Wejryd, her predecessor as archbishop. The coat of arms follows a typical pattern in Scandinavian countries of the personal arms (in the 2nd and 3rd quarters) being quartered with those of the (arch)diocese. The motto translates to, “God is Greater”.


artwork: Ronny Andersen


Transition in Spain

640px-Coat_of_Arms_of_the_Prince_of_Asturias.svg  719px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Spanish_Monarch.svg

Now that the Spanish Cortes has voted on and passed the law allowing for the abdication of King Juan Carlos I it has prepared the way for proclamation of the Prince of the Asturias as King Felipe VI on June 18. The arms borne by Felipe as Prince (left) will be replaced by the royal arms (right). It has not yet been determined what title Juan Carlos will hold or what arms he shall bear. Perhaps it will be something similar to the arms borne by his father, Don Juan? (below) Of course, Don Juan, however, had renounced his rights to the throne and, while having been for a time the Pretender to the Headship of the Royal House, was never King.



Constantinian Order Reconciliation


It was announced yesterday that the Duke of Noto (Spanish branch) and the Duke of Castro (Neapolitan branch) of the royal house of the Two Sicilies signed an accord which, while it does not completely solve the issue of the headship of the royal house more closely ties the two heads of the royal orders together in closer cooperation as co-grand masters with equal footing of the Sacred Military and Constantinian Order of St. George. This is a positive step toward healing a very long-standing rift.

(artwork by Carlos Navarro)

Royal Cardinal


Henry (or Henrique) born on January 31, 1512 and died on January 31, 1580 reigned as King of Portugal and the Algarves and at the same time was a Cardinal of the Church. He ruled in Portugal between 1578 and 1580 and was known, for obvious reasons,  as “Henry the Chaste”.

Henry was the fifth son of King Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon and the younger brother of King John III. He was not expected to succeed to the Portuguese throne since he was a younger son. Ordained as a priest in order to promote Portuguese interests within the Church then dominated by the Spanish he, not surprisingly as the son of a king, rose fast through the hierarchy, becoming in quick succession Archbishop Braga, then Archbishop of Évora and eventually of Lisbon before receiving the red hat in 1545, along with the Titular Roman church of Quattro Coronati.

Henry served as regent for his grandnephew, Sebastian, after 1557, and then succeeded him as king after Sebastian was killed at the Battle of Alcázarquibir. Henry renounced his clerical offices on his own volition and sought to marry for the continuation of the House of Avis, but Pope Gregory XIII, closely tied to the Habsburgs who controlled Spain, did not release him from his vows. The Cardinal-King died in Almeirim without having appointed a Council of Regency to choose a successor.  Philip II of Spain who had a strong dynastic claim was elected King of Portugal at the Portuguese Cortes of Tomar in 1581.

For his arms he bore the royal arms of Portugal ensigned with a crown and a cardinal’s hat. (NOTE: the number of tassels was not fixed at 30 until the late 19th Century and prior to that cardinals often employed varying numbers of tassels on their galeri)


The Coat of Arms of Prince George of Cambridge

Quite a few people have asked me what the newborn Prince George of Cambridge’s coat of arms will look like. The answer is: it won’t look like anything. At least not until he is 18. A coat of arms is devised for royal children when they come of age. Prince George won’t be 18 until the year 2031 by which time he may find himself in a very different position from being third in line to the throne. So, it’s a moot point until then.

Belgian Royal Heraldry

The shield is emblazoned: “Sable a lion rampant Or, armed and langued Gules surmounted by a helmet with raised visor, with mantling Or and Sable and the royal crown in lieu of a crest”. Behind the shield are placed a hand of justice and a sceptre with a lion. The grand collar of the Order of Leopold surrounds the shield. Two lions guardant proper support the shield as well as a lance with the national colors black, yellow and red. Underneath the compartment is placed the motto: “L’union fait la force” in French or “Eendracht maakt macht” in Dutch. The whole is placed on a red mantle with ermine lining and golden fringes and tassels, ensigned with the royal crown. Above the mantle rise banners with the arms of the nine provinces that constituted Belgium in 1837. They are (from left to right) Antwerp, West Flanders, East Flanders, Liége, Brabant, Hainaut, Limburg, Luxembourg and Namur.

This greater arms is used only rarely as on the great seal that is affixed to laws and international treaties.

Since the province of Brabant was split into Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Brussels in 1995, the greater arms no longer reflect the present territorial divisions of the state. The changes made to the arms of the Flemish provinces as a result of this decision, are not reflected in the great seal either.

The lesser coat of arms (as used by the Belgian federal government, on passport covers and the official sites of the monarchy and of the government) consists of the shield, the royal crown, the crossed sceptres, the collar of the Order of Leopold and the motto.

There is also a middle version used on occasion as well. All three are illustrated below.




New King of the Belgians


This weekend in Belgium King Albert II will officially abdicate and be succeeded by his son, the Duke of Brabant, who will become King Philippe I. There is no coronation ceremony in the Belgian monarchy. Instead, after a solemn Te Deum is sung at the cathedral there will be the formal abdication of the King. This is followed by the swearing in of the new King before the Belgian Parliament. The crown is used as a heraldic emblem by the King but an actual crown does not exist. The King rules by the consent of the people which is why there is no King “of Belgium” but instead a King “of the Belgians”. The arms above are of Philippe and his wife, Mathilde.

Recent Acquisitions (part III)

Some more today: Heraldry For The Designer by William Metzig, published in 1970. (thanks to the recommendation of a fellow heraldist) It’s an interesting book. His style is unique but some of his ideas about heraldry border on the bizarre.

Also Royal Ceremonies of State by J.P. Brooke-Little (quondam Clarenceux King of Arms) published in 1980. As the title states its a book mostly about British royal ceremonies. However, the author being who he is there is a chapter on the Heralds and a good bit of heraldry throughout especially in the chapters on funerals and orders of chivalry. It’s also a book that illustrates well that the function of a herald isn’t limited to genealogy and the devisal of coats of arms. There are an extensive amount of ceremonial duties involved with being a herald.

Prince Harry In The Garden State


He will tour areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy with the Governor, The Hon. Chris Christie, and see the efforts and recovery and rebuilding. I’ve never liked the custom of the British royals of having everyone use the royal arms differenced only by various forms of a label. In addition, the royal arms really should have had an escutcheon in pretense of the Duchy of Saxony added but the heralds decided against that.

Coat of Arms of the Netherlands Royal House


From his April 30th investiture onwards, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander will fly the royal standard. His coat of arms will be identical to that used by Queen Beatrix. Contrary to the announcement in the press release of 29 January therefore, there will be no change in the design.

The blazon is: Azure, billity or, a lion rampant of the same, armed and langued gules, crowned with a coronet of two pearls between three leaves, a sword argent with hilt or, thrusted upwards, in its right hand claw seven arrows argent with heads or, tied in a garb with ribbon or, in its left hand claw. The Royal Netherlands crown resting on the ledge of the shield, supported by two lions rampant or, armed and langued gules, placed above a ribbon azure, with the motto JE MAINTIENDRAI in gold lettering. The whole placed above a royal mantling purple trimmed or, lined ermine, tied back at the corners with gold tassled cords and issuing from a domed canopy of the same, surmounted by the Royal Netherlands crown.

The royal coat of arms, which is the same as the coat of arms of the Kingdom, has only been altered once since the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1907, at the instigation of Queen Wilhelmina, the number of crowns was reduced to one, surmounting the shield. At the same time, it became possible to add the royal mantle, also surmounted by a crown. The addition of other decorative elements to the coat of arms is optional.

After her abdication Queen Beatrix will adopt the coat of arms created for her (and for her sisters) in 1938 as Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau and Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld.