The Arms of Individuals in Same-Sex Marriages
The text of a ruling by the Kings of Arms dated 29 March 2014
We, Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy & Ulster King of Arms, do rule, ordain and decree as follows:
(1) A man who contracts a same-sex marriage may impale the arms of his husband with his own on a shield or banner but should bear his own crest rather than the crests of both parties. The coat of arms of each party to the marriage will be distinguishable (1) by the arms of the individual concerned being placed on the dexter side of the shield or banner and (2) by the crest (when included). When one of the parties to the marriage dies, the survivor may continue to bear the combined arms on a shield or banner.
(2) A woman who contracts a same-sex marriage may bear arms on a shield or banner, impaling the arms of her wife with her own or (in cases where the other party is an heraldic heiress) placing the arms of her wife in pretence. The coat of arms of each party to the marriage will be distinguishable by the arms of the individual concerned being placed on the dexter side of the shield or banner (or displayed as the principal arms in cases where the other party is an heraldic heiress whose arms are borne in pretence). When one of the parties to the marriage dies, the survivor may bear the combined arms on a lozenge or banner.
(3) A married man will continue to have the option of bearing his own arms alone. A ruling of the Kings of Arms made on 6 November 1997 allows a married woman to bear her own arms alone differenced by a small escutcheon. That will continue to be the case but the addition of the mark of difference will forthwith be optional.
Thomas Woodcock, Garter
Patric Dickinson, Clarenceux
H Bedingfeld, Norroy and Ulster
Flag Flying Days 2017
Dates for flying the Union Flag on UK government buildings in 2017
- 9 January Birthday of the Duchess of Cambridge
- 20 January Birthday of the Countess of Wessex
- 6 February Her Majesty's Accession
- 19 February Birthday of the Duke of York
- 1 March St David's Day (in Wales only, see note 1)
- 10 March Birthday of the Earl of Wessex
- 13 March Commonwealth Day (second Monday in March)
- 17 March St. Patrick's Day (in Northern Ireland only, see note 5)
- 21 April Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen
- 23 April St George's Day (in England only, see note 1)
- 9 May Europe Day (see note 4)
- 2 June Coronation Day
- 10 June Birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh
- 17 June Official celebration of Her Majesty's birthday
- 21 June Birthday of the Duke of Cambridge
- 17 July Birthday of the Duchess of Cornwall
- 15 August Birthday of the Princess Royal
- 12 November Remembrance Day (second Sunday in November, see note 2)
- 14 November Birthday of the Prince of Wales
- 20 November Her Majesty's Wedding Day
- 30 November St Andrew's Day (in Scotland only, see note 1)
- The day of the opening of a Session of the Houses of Parliament by Her Majesty (see note 3)
- The day of the prorogation of a Session of the Houses of Parliament by Her Majesty (see note 3)
- Where a building has two or more flag poles the appropriate national flag may be flown in addition to the union flag but not in a superior position. UK government buildings within the wider Whitehall area may fly the national flags alongside the union flag on their appropriate saint days.
- Flags should be flown at full mast all day.
- Flags should be flown on this day even if Her Majesty does not perform the ceremony in person. Flags should only be flown in the Greater London area.
- Where the European flag is flown on this day, the Union Flag should fly alongside the European flag and, on UK government buildings that only have one flagpole, the Union Flag should take precedence.
- The Union Flag only should be flown.
Crowns and Crests: Heraldry in the Round
A selection of crests of Knights of the Garter from the present Queen’s reign.
Charles (Lyttelton), 10th Viscount Cobham
William, 1st Viscount Slim
Quintin (Hogg), Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone
Richard (Butler), Baron Butler of Saffron Walden
Philip (Lever), 3rd Viscount Leverhulme
Edward, 11th and 5th Baron Digby
Hastings, 1st and last Baron Ismay
Rowland (Baring), 3rd Earl of Cromer
Charles, 1st and last Viscount Portal of Hungerford
Derrick, 1st and last Viscount Amory
Oliver (Lyttelton), 1st Viscount Chandos
Oswald (Phipps), 4th Marquess of Normanby
Gerald (Wellesley), 7th Duke of Wellington
Terence, Baron Lewin
John (Loder), 2nd Baron Wakehurst
Humphrey, Baron Trevelyan
John, Baron Hunt
Sir Cennydd Traherne
Edward, 1st Baron Bridges
Edward, Baron Shackleton
Sir Edmund Bacon, Bart
William (Ormsby-Gore), 4th Baron Harlech
Sir Gerald Templer
Henry (Somerset), 10th Duke of Beaufort
Anthony (Eden), 1st Earl of Avon
John (Nevill), 5th Marquess of Abergavenny
Lawrence (Lumley), 11th Earl of Scarborough
Francis (Pakenham), 7th Earl of Longford
Harold (Alexander), 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis
Geoffrey, 12th Earl Waldegrave
The conjugal arms of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Released today, 27 September 2013, are the conjugal Arms of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which were approved in February this year by Her Majesty The Queen. Conjugal Arms are those that show the separate shields of a husband and wife, side by side. In this case, the two Shields are the Duke's on the left and the Duchess's on the right with both supported by the Duke of Cambridge's Supporters of the Royal Lion and Unicorn, which is made to look different from The Queen's by adding his white label of three points around their necks with the central point charged with a red escallop shell taken from the Duke of Cambridge's mother's Arms of Spencer.
This is the conclusion of an heraldic story that began when the engagement between Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton was announced. It is an heraldic story that reflects what is available to anyone who wishes to follow it in the United Kingdom because British Citizens can apply for their own Coat of Arms. People who live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can apply to the College of Arms in London, while Scots have the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. Both maintain the records of every Coat of Arms granted in these countries back to the beginning of recognisable heraldic use in the 12th century.
The story for Prince William began when he was eighteen years old and The Queen granted him his own Coat of Arms by Royal Warrant. His Shield shows the Royal Arms as they have appeared since the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, differenced by his label. They refer to the Act of Union of 1800 of the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. In the first and fourth quarters are the three lions passant guardant of England, in the second quarter is the lion rampant of Scotland and in the third quarter the harp of Ireland. As a Knight of the Garter the Duke of Cambridge's Arms are shown within the Garter, the Order of Chivalry founded in 1348 by King Edward III of which the Duke of Cambridge was the thousandth Knight (see right).
The story of the Duchess of Cambridge's Coat of Arms begins more traditionally with an application for a Grant of Arms. In this case it was advised that her father should do this, which meant that the Arms granted could be used, enjoyed and inherited by the whole family. Thus in March 2011 the Duchess's father Michael Middleton was granted the following design, which followed a number of meetings in order to settle on something unique and that gave the family pleasure. The blazon or technical heraldic description of these Arms is Per pale Azure and Gules a Chevron Or cotised Argent between three Acorns slipped and leaved Or. The three sprigs of oak, described heraldically as acorns slipped and leaved, refer to Michael Middleton's three children and the area where the Duchess of Cambridge was brought up, which is surrounded by oak trees. The gold chevron across the centre of the Shield refers to the Duchess of Cambridge's mother's family who are named Goldsmith and the thin white chevrons refer to mountains and the Lake District.
For any person who petitions for Arms, the process of design is intended to be an enjoyable one. Following the payment of a fee, the petitioner can discuss things that are important for consideration in the design. The College of Arms develops a design for consideration, which is painted by hand in an Approval Sketch. If this is agreed, it can be immediately adopted. If not, further discussion and design ensues until both the petitioner and the Heralds are happy. The design is then painted onto vellum and the description written by hand, to produce what is called a Grant of Arms. This is then granted with the signatures and seals of the relevant Kings of Arms.
The Middleton Arms first appeared publicly in the lozenge format, on 19th April 2011 (see below, left). The lozenge is the format used for an unmarried daughter to display her father's Coat of Arms. This was the Coat of Arms that she carried into the marriage.
Following the wedding at Westminster Abbey, The Queen approved a specific Coat of Arms for the new Duchess. This involved creating a single Shield that combined her Arms, on the right side, with Prince William's on the left. In addition the Royal Warrant of 10th July 2012 assigned a Coronet and Supporters to be used by the Duchess of Cambridge (below, centre). The Coronet is that of the Duke of Cambridge, which was laid down by a Royal Warrant of 1917 for the sons and daughters of the Heir Apparent. It is composed of two crosses patée, four fleurs-de-lys and two strawberry leaves.
In the Royal Warrant the Supporters are blazoned To the dexter the Lion as borne and used as a Supporter by Our Dearly Beloved Grandson His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and to the sinister a Hind Argent unguled and gorged with the Coronet of Our Dearly Beloved Grandson's degree Or. The hind is white (Argent) and is hooved (unguled) and has about its neck (is gorged) with the Duke of Cambridge's Coronet. Both the hooves and Coronet are gold.
It is customary for Supporters to be assigned by Royal Warrant to members of the Royal Family and for wives of members of the Royal Family to have one of their husband's Supporters and one relating to themselves. The Supporter assigned to the Duchess of Cambridge is a white hind. A white hind was the Badge of Joan of Kent (c. 1328-1385), Princess of Wales, better known as the Fair Maid of Kent, noted even as a child for her beauty and gaiety (above, right). The white hind has had continuing Royal connections in England since the fourteenth century. A hind as a forest dweller stands well next to a Shield in which acorns predominate.
In the painting of the Conjugal Arms that are released today, as is traditional for Royal Spouses who are not themselves entitled to surround their Arms with the Circlet of an Order of Chivalry, the Duchess of Cambridge's Arms are surrounded by a Wreath of Oak. This balances out the Duke's Garter, which carries the ancient motto "HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE", which means, "Shame to those who think evil of it". These Conjugal Arms and the Duchess's own Coat of Arms will be theirs forever. As their circumstances and roles alter, so will elements of the accoutrements around the Shields but the Middleton Arms are set in perpetuity. This is one of the attractions of heraldry: it is a unique scheme of personal identity that has evolved in Europe over the centuries, which can specifically identify a family and its story.
Court of Chivalry
The legal forum for disputes relating to coats of arms, and where those regarded as having transgressed the law of arms can be prosecuted, is known as the Court of Chivalry.
This court, which has its origins in the martial law exercised by the medieval Constables and Marshals of England when on campaign, has for centuries had jurisdiction over all matters relating to coats of arms. It has had a complex and varied history, and has been used for different purposes at different times. Most of the records of the court's activities, for the post-medieval period, are held by the College of Arms.
A recent project by scholars from the University of Birmingham has entailed a great deal of research in these records, particularly for the seventeenth century.
The results of this research, and a large number of transcribed documents, can be be examined online. The Court of Chivalry web site has been created through a collaboration between the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies and the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing, both at the University of Birmingham, and the College of Arms in London.
Funding for the project was provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the research and editing of documents has been carried out at Birmingham by Dr Richard Cust and Dr Andrew Hopper, now at the University of Leicester.
There is a companion volume to this web site, containing an account of the court’s history and summaries of the cases for this period: R.P.Cust and A.J.Hopper (eds), Cases in the High Court of Chivalry, 1634-1640 (Harleian Society, N.S. vol. 18, 2006).