Learning with sadness of the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, special instructions have been received that all Union flags on the buildings of Her Majesty's Government should be lowered to half mast as soon as possible today (13 October 2016) until 2000 hours tomorrow (14 October).

Any other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary. Enquiries regarding the correct protocols for the flying of Union and other flags should be addressed to the Officer in Waiting at the College of Arms in the first instance.

New £5 note

13 September 2016

27136331630 32fd02e7be bThe United Kingdom's first polymer bank note issued by the Bank of England, for £5, enters circulation today. It bears a portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, and features Sir Winston Churchill. On the reverse may be seen a view of the Palace of Westminster with the Elizabeth Tower; and the medal of the Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Sir Winston Churchill in 1953. The design of the note incorporates for the first time heraldic shields representing England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These shields are shaded with diagonal lines which should not be confused with hatching. Further information on the new note may be found on the Bank of England website.

The Great Fire of London

01 September 2016

In September 1666, Derby House, the home of the College of Arms, burned down in the Fire of London. As the fire spread from Pudding Lane, sufficient warning was given to allow almost all the books and manuscripts to be rescued. These were taken, probably by boat, to Whitehall. The Officers of Arms regrouped, and were given a room at the Palace of Westminster from which to conduct their business. Heraldic, genealogical, and ceremonial work continued, while at the same time the task of building a new College had to be faced.

In November 1669, three Officers of Arms visited the site to consider what might be done, and a year later Francis Sandford, Rouge Dragon, was appointed to enter into discussions with the bricklayer, Morris Emott or Emmett, about rebuilding the Office. Both Emmett, Master Bricklayer in thew Office of Works, who also worked for Christopher Wren, and his brother William, wood carver to the King, played important parts in the rebuilding of the College. Sandford, who was a surveyor by profession, prepared a model of the new College and Emmett laid a ground plot.

Raising the money for the undertaking presented great difficulties; demands on potential donors were high after the Fire due to the number of competing causes. In December 1670 the Officers of Arms presented a petition to the King, asking him to allow them to raise subscriptions for the rebuilding. The Warrant granting this permission is still held by the College. It is reproduced in part here, with a transcription of the eloquent wording employed in it to persuade the King's wealthier subjects to contribute.

British Olympic Association and Paralympic AssociationThe British Olympic Association and The British Paralympic Association: on the petition of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, President of The British Olympic Association, and His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, Patron of The British Paralympic Association, a Coat of Arms has been established for the use of the two associations in connection with the Summer, Winter and Youth Olympic Games, and the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. The grant was made by Letters Patent of Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy and Ulster Kings of Arms dated 27 April 2016, to a specially established company 2016 Crest Holding Limited, for the use of The British Olympic Association and The British Paralympic Association. College reference: Grants 179/203. The Arms are illustrated here and are blazoned:

Arms: Quarterly Gules and Azure two Leeks in pale that in base reversed and conjoined at the fess point to two Thistles in fess two Roses in bend and two Flax Flowers in bend sinister all with heads outwards and slipped and leaved Or the whole enfiling four Links of Chain interlaced in a square Argent.

Crest: on a Helm with a Wreath Argent, Gules and Azure: Within a Coronet comprising a Rim set with six Batons erect Or between Roundels alternately of Silver Gold and Bronze proper a Lion statant guardant Gules crowned with a Laurel Wreath the dexter forepaw raised and holding a Torch enflamed Or.

Supporters: On either side a Lion guardant that on the dexter Azure that on the sinister Gules each crowned with a Laurel Wreath and holding in the exterior forepaw a Torch enflamed Or both upon a Compartment comprising a Grassy Mount Vert.

Her Majesty's Government has instructed that to mark Armed Forces Week, Government buildings should fly the Armed Forces Flag from 08:00 on Monday 20 June until 20:00 on Saturday 25 June 2016.

Departmental buildings in London with more than one flagpole are also to fly the Rainbow Flag during this period to celebrate Pride Week. Where there is only one flagpole the Armed Forces Flag will in most cases take precedence. 

Please note that 21 June 2016 is a designated flag-flying day. If there is only one flagpole, the Union Flag should be flown. If there are two, the Union Flag should be flown on the senior pole.

Local authorities are not bound by these instructions but may wish to follow them for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

For information about Armed Forces Day flags and issues relating to the flying of flags more generally, please contact the Officer in Waiting at the College of Arms.

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By decision of the College of Arms all proceeds arising from the sale of The Armorial of Haiti will be donated to the international effort for the relief of Haiti
after the calamitous earthquake of 12 January 2010.

The College of Arms Newsletter is produced every three months and sent automatically and free to those who subscribe. Other benefits for those who submit their names in this way include advance notice of College of Arms events, relevant publications, and media appearances.

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