|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!