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Joint Coat of Arms Released Along with Christening Date

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom

I love coats of arms. I love how beautiful they are, I love how much they can tell you, and I love their roots that stretch deeply back to the Middle Ages. Unlike the mass-produced family shields that you can buy on coasters and tea towels at your average tourist shop, coats of arms are meant to be very personal and tell someone quite a bit about the either the person whose arms you are looking at or certainly their family.

Obviously, these identifying shields date back to a time long ago when warriors wanted to identify themselves in battle. Heralds were trained to recognize the shields on the field.  Steeped in symbolism, they really are works of art, conveying meaning through colors and positioning. Edward III quartered the lions of England with the fleur-de-lis of France to mark his claim on the French throne.  


I remember the first time I ever visited Paris, walking into the lower chapel at Sainte-Chapelle. The pillars are covered with the lilies of France, AND the gold castles of Castile against the deep red background. I wondered why Louis chose to decorate with the coat of arms of Castile, and it turned out his mother was Blanche of Castile. Before visiting, I didn't know who his mother was, but I instantly recognized the Castilion arms. Arms/shields instantly identify.


William's personal shield starts with the royal arms of Britain--England, Scotland, and Ireland quartered-- and he is marked as the eldest child of the Prince of Wales by the three white points. The red scallop is a nod to his ancestry on the Spencer side.


Harry has a very similar shield, but with the five points of a grandchild of the Monarch:


Kate's arms are the arms of her spouse, William, impaled with the Middletons' arms. The Middletons' arms, as you are no doubt aware, are absolutely lovely and filled with interesting symbolism. Most prominent are the three acorns symbolizing the three Middleton children, the gold chevron in the center to symbolize Carole and a play on her maiden name, Goldsmith, and I even read that the with smaller lines are meant to evoke snowy mountains and the Middletons' passion for skiing, but I am not sure f that was the original intent or not. :)


The arms can then be placed at the center of a full blown coat of arms incorporating many other symbols. William's personal crest is below:



Obviously, all the excitement is over the newly released conjugal crest of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I would have to do some polishing up of my heraldry study to identify all the elements, beyond the obvious garter belt around William's arms, and the oak branch around Kate's. The crown above the crest should be able to tell you William's rank in terms of succession, etc. Heraldry is very interesting, but I am currently rusty.


Also released was the date of Prince George's christening--October 23rd!  It will be a private christening at the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace. William and Kate chose the venue, which is obviously historically rich. St. James remains the official residence of the monarch and the so the seat of the British Court, the Court of St. James, and was built by Henry VIII! You can certainly expect some historic photos!

The Cambridges, by all reports are still in Scotland, but I expect they will be back in London soon. I think they are staying there until their KP apartment is ready to be occupied, and all accounts are saying that they can move in any time now. The Queen will be returning to London soon, as well, and I think we can expect some engagements in short order! 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks Jane for all the interesting information on the Cambridges new coat of arms. I too find the symbolism and meanings very facinating. Do you know, will they use their new coat of arms during their future tours? I noticed a coat of arms on the plane while they were in Canada but not sure who's it was.

    I can't wait for the christening to see what Kate, Carole and Pippa will wear! I really don't think either Harry, Pippa or James will be godparents as they are uncles and aunts. I think (hope) Kate and William will select some close friends and royal relations.

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  2. Elizabeth in ColoradoSeptember 29, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Hi, I am curious if you know why William's honors England, Scotland, and Ireland but not Wales. I was in Wales this summer and noticed in some ways an undercurrent of resentment towards the royal family, and I was there when Prince George was born. I would think that with his father being Prince of Wales and William using the name William Wales, there would be a quarter with the dragon of Wales on it. There must be a reason. Just curious.

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  3. Nice work, Jane: yes, the white chevrons on the Middleton arms represent the mountains.
    For the full coat of arms, the gold helmet and mantle represent Royalty. The unicorn is a heraldic symbol of Scotland and the lion is England.
    Prince William has his own Canadian Royal Standard for use there which is similar to the Queen's and has some maple leaves. As far as I know, Canada is the only Realm which has done this for William and it is up to the individual country. In NZ and Aus he uses his usual Royal Standard.
    Elizabeth: the Welsh question is rather awkward but summed up by the fact Wales was never a 'united' kingdom under one king or prince before the English took over. That is why Wales is referred to as a Principality. Some don't care, some are annoyed by it and a sizeable number of republicans and nationalists simply don't recognise the legitimacy of the current 'Prince of Wales' and his offspring: a title appropriated by an Anglo/Norman dynasty as it subjugated the Welsh in the 13th century.
    So ... no Welsh representation in the flag of the UK, no Welsh representation in the Royal Coat of Arms for the Monarch for hundreds of years. But go back to the Tudors (or Twydors) and you will see the Welsh heritage of Henry VII represented by a dragon, which the Stuarts deposed in favour of their unicorn.
    Rgds, Simon.

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