In accordance with normal practice, coats of arms have been given to each of the two sons of the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Henry of Wales, on their respective eighteenth birthdays in June 2000 and September 2002. In each case the design is derived from the armorial bearings of HM the Queen, with an identifying addition evolved from the Arms used by the princes' mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
The identifying addition consists in each case of a 'label'; a device consisting of a horizontal line with three or five 'points' or tabs hanging from it, applied to the upper portion of the shield, and to the necks of the lion and unicorn that support the shield, as well as to that of the lion in the crest above the shield. White labels are used by all members of the Royal family to distinguish their arms. With the exception of the Prince of Wales, who as heir apparent uses a plain white label of three points, all have some distinctive features added to their labels so that their arms may be told apart.
Prince William of Wales, as second in line to the throne, uses a white label of three points like his father, but has in addition a small red 'escallop' or sea-shell on the central point. Prince Henry of Wales (or, as he is usually known, Prince Harry) uses, like all grandchildren of the monarch except his elder brother, a five-pointed label. In his case this is 'charged', or marked, with red escallops on the first, third and fifth points. When, in due course, Prince Harry becomes the son or brother of the monarch, his label will be reduced to three points. In that event, the two blank points will disappear, leaving three, each of them charged with a red escallop.
The escallop is derived from the Spencer Coat of Arms: Quarterly Argent and Gules in the 2nd and 3rd Quarters a Fret Or over all on a Bend Sable three Escallops of the First. This has been borne by the two princes' ancestors, the Earls Spencer, for many centuries and was used by the late Diana, Princess of Wales (see below).
Mr Peter Gwynn-Jones, Garter Principal King of Arms, who is the senior herald and responsible for all matters of Royal Heraldry, said at the time of Prince William's eighteenth birthday "It is a welcome innovation to incorporate maternal symbols into the Royal Family's arms and it is something that Prince William and his family wanted to do. In the fullness of time, Prince William's Arms will change, as The Prince of Wales's shall, but a precedent has been set here that others in the Royal Family may well follow". He went on to say that "Three escallops were added to the ancient Despencer arms when they were adopted by the Spencer family, in the latter part of the sixteenth century".
As to the escallop's symbolism, Garter said, "There are references to the escallop being worn by pilgrims to the shrine of St James of Compostella, in Santiago, during the twelfth century. It was a popular symbol among mediaeval pilgrims and inevitably became a favoured 'charge' in heraldry".
The Coat of Arms of HRH Prince Henry of Wales
On the granting of arms to Prince Harry in September 2002, Garter said, "After changing convention for Prince William by using symbols derived from his maternal arms it made sense to develop this further for Prince Harry. This is especially significant because, unlike his elder brother who will one day see his arms alter to reflect his changing responsibilities, Prince Harry will always keep the escallop shells from his mother's Spencer family arms and, in time, may pass them on to his children. I understand that both Princes are delighted to bear Arms that celebrate both their parents' families and it has been a pleasure to evolve the rules of Royal Heraldry in order to make this possible."
The full achievement of Prince William is 'blazoned', or described in heraldic language, as follows: Quarterly 1st and 4th, Gules three Lions passant guardant in pale Or (England) 2nd, Or a Lion rampant within a Double Tressure flory counterflory Gules (Scotland) 3rd, Azure a Harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland) the whole differenced by a Label of three points Argent the central point charged with an Escallop Gules.
Princes William and Harry also display the coronet of their 'degree', as a Sovereign's grandchild, which has two 'crosses formy' and two strawberry leaves alternating with four fleurs-de-lys.
The Arms of Diana, Princess of Wales