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The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom

Author: Amy Billington - Commemorative and Bullion Editor

Published: 5 Nov 2021

Last Updated: 12 Nov 2021

Synopsis

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kindom are set to feature on the 2022 sovereigns. In this blog we will look at the current Royal Coat of Arms, the history of the design and what the future sovereign will look like using the Royal Coat of Arms on the reverse.

What are the Royal Coat of Arms?

The Royal Coat of Arms is the national arms of the British monarch, and, as the Arms of Dominion, it represents both the sovereign and the sovereign state. The arms are used on UK passports, British coins and products issued by Royal warrant holders. They also appear in churches and public buildings, such as courthouses. 

The Royal Coat of Arms is unique to each monarch and consists of a crest, motto and shield.

Queen Elizabeth II Royal Coat of Arms

The current Royal Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom belong to Queen Elizabeth II. The coat of arms feature the quartered shield of the United Kingdom, surmounted by a royal crown, topped by a golden lion.

The shield of the United Kingdom dates back to the 1707 Act of Union and symbolises the alliance of the four Great British nations. Each quarter represents a part of the UK; three passant lions for England, a rampant lion for Scotland, three lions for Wales and a golden harp for Northern Ireland.

The shield is surrounded by the Order of the Garter. This French motto “HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE” is roughly interpreted as “EVIL BE TO HIM WHO EVIL THINKS THEREOF”. It has featured on many UK coins, most notably the original St George and the Dragon sovereign reverse design, by Benedetto Pistrucci.

The shield is held up by two ‘supporters’ standing on each side. The left supporter (known as the dexter side) is the crowned golden lion of England. The right supporter (known as the sinister side) is the silver unicorn of Scotland. The ground underneath the supporters includes the royal plant emblems of England (rose), Scotland (thistle) and Ireland (shamrock).

At the bottom of the design, the motto "DIEU ET MON DROIT", meaning "GOD AND MY RIGHT" can be found.

Royal Coat of Arms of Scotland

Ever since King James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne in 1603, Scotland have had their own version of the Royal Coat of Arms. Whilst similar to the British version, the arms place the Scottish elements in a more prominent position. For the current Royal Coat of Arms, the golden lion surmounting the crown is replaced by the red lion of Scotland. The supporters have also switched sides, with the Scottish unicorn placed on the left-side of the shield. One of the more notable difference is the addition of the Scottish flag and the Flag of England, held by their respective supporters.  

The positioning on the shield has also changed. It shows a rampant lion for Scotland in the first quarter, followed by three lions for England, a lion of Wales, and a harp for Northern Ireland.

The motto at the bottom reads “NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT”. This Latin phrase, loosely translated to “NO ONE WILL ATTACK ME WITH IMPUNITY”, is Scotland’s national motto and was used by the Stuart Dynasty.

The Final House of Windsor Royal Arms?

Prince Charles is next in line to the British throne. It has been suggested that he may adopt his father, the late Prince Philip’s, coat of arms. If this is the case, the current Royal Coat of Arms will be the final issued under the House of Windsor.

Prince Philip’s coat of arms feature references to his Greek heritage. The left supporter of the shield is a crowned savage, taken from the Royal Greek Arms. He is depicted wearing a lion skin and a chaplet of oak leaves, holding a club in his right hand. The right supporter is a crowned lion wearing a naval coronet around its neck, referencing the Battenberg arms.  

The shield consists of three lions for England, a white cross on a blue background representing Greece, two pallets for Battenberg and Mountbatten, and a castle on top of some rocks to represent Edinburgh. The motto reads "GOD IS MY HELP".

Coins Featuring the Royal Coat of Arms

The Royal Coat of Arms and the shield of arms have been featured on many UK coins. Here we have a selection of coins featuring the Royal Coat of Arms and the shield of arms

Summary

As we approach the release of the new 2022 gold proof sovereigns, we’re excited to see the Royal Coat of Arms design be featured on the coins. Whilst we don’t know what the final design will look like, we have looked at three variations in this blog. Which one do you think it will be? Let us know on our socials - InstagramYouTubeFacebook, Tiktok and Twitter

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