Wednesday, 20 August 2014

International arms of Elizabeth II

This experiment really came as an idea from a discussion about the Royal Coat of arms. Some might remember reading my Heraldic Designs post, where one of my designs was a single coat of arms for HRH the Prince of Wales that represented all his titles. So what if the same could be said of HM the Queen? This is not a new idea, for example the Royal Arms of England before the 1707 Act of Union with Scotland were:
This coat of arms is a personal coat of arms rather than a state coat of arms, which is what Royal Arms have turned into over time. Notice that it is quartered with the arms of England (itself quartered with arms of France,(English monarchs still claimed the throne of France in 1707)), Scotland and Ireland. 
What if the same sort of thing happened with today's Royal coat of arms? The problem arises that the Queen is currently the constitional monarch of 16 different states, 15 of which have coats of arms. The Current arms of the United Kingdom (excluding Scotland) are:
I had an attempt at an international coat of arms, in an attempt to try make the Royal arms a personal coat of arms rather than a state one with mixed results. My first attempt was this:
Using the British coat of arms as a base I quartered the shield with the 15 coats of arms of the commonwealth realms. The supporters come from the UK Arms and the compartment(base) has the flowers of the British Isles for historical symbolism. The flags are the Union Flag and the flag of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Union Jack is used in a lot of commonwealth realms and appears in the flags of others. The Commonwealth flag represents the Queen's position as head of the Commonwealth (although its not a hereditary title). The motto doesn't appear on any current coat of arms, so is therefore more neutral.
The shield in detail is:
The nations represented on the shield are from left to right
The shield is defaced with the personal emblem of Elizabeth II, a crowned letter "E" in a garland of gold roses.
I only included the arms of sovereign states and not territories, dependencies or associated states, as they should be represented by (but perhaps not in) the arms of their sovereign state.
The first coat of arms is perhaps not completely neutral so here is the second design with some of the elements (not the shield) changed:

The most obvious change is the Union Flag replaced by the Queen's personal flag, which was originally designed to represent her as an individual rather than associate, so this seems appropriate.
Secondly I removed the crest, rather than add all the crests, which I might have done if there was only two or three, but there is far, to many and if I added them all, it would overwhelm the design.
So no crest but I did keep the St Edward's Crown as this is used in the heraldry of other Commonwealth realms, notably (but not only) Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (also of interest is on both versions the supporters are wearing their respective St Edwards and Scots crowns)
The Compartment also includes the plants of Australia and Canada. I also used a different motto to one that I think reflects the Queen's life.
Of course coats of arms were often  historically used to make statements which I think this does. But If the shield is a little overwhelming, perhaps HM could only use the arms of nations, where she has a Royal Standard?
This reduces the quarters from 15 to 6, as only six countries use their own Royal Standard (there are seven Royal standards the UK has two):
This is perhaps a more practical design.
Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment.
Some posts that may also be of interest:
National flag of the UK
Heraldry guide
Heraldic Designs
Government Coat of Arms
Personal flags


  1. There are 16 realms - you're missing Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately it doesn't have a traditional coat of arms, but you can put its national emblem on a plain background.

    1. I left out Papua New Guinea on purpose, for the reason you mentioned, and I did say "the Queen is currently the constitutional monarch of 16 different states, 15 of which have coats of arms." I did think on including their emblem but it was easier to leave it out.