Q. Do coats of arms belong to surnames?

A. No. There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.

Q. How do I seek a new coat of arms?

A. The Kings of Arms are deputed by the Crown to make grants of new arms to individuals and corporate bodies within their jurisdiction. The grant is made by a formal document, illuminated by hand, with the seals of the Kings of Arms at the foot. Those interested in being granted a coat of arms should contact the Officer in Waiting.

Q. What are the pantone numbers for the colours used in heraldry?

A. There are no fixed shades for heraldic colours. If the official description of a coat of arms gives its tinctures as Gules (red), Azure (blue) and Argent (white or silver) then, as long as the blue is not too light and the red not too orange, purple or pink, it is up to the artist to decide which particular shades they think are appropriate.

Q. What is a crest?

A. It is a popular misconception that the word 'crest' describes a whole coat of arms or any heraldic device. It does not. A crest is a specific part of a full achievement of arms: the three-dimensional object placed on top of the helm.

Q. Can you identify a crest or shield for me?

A. The heralds can very often identify coats of arms, crests and mottoes by carrying out research in the records and printed sources held here. Please send an enquiry to the Officer in Waiting.

Q. I am American, can I have a coat of arms?

A. US Citizens who can show a descent from a subject of the British Crown, including from subjects of the Crown overseas in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere during the period of British rule, such as India, South Africa and Ireland, can seek a grant of Honorary Arms from the Kings of Arms here. American institutions can petition for a devisal of arms, which is very similar in all but a technical sense.

Q. Can the College of Arms tell me what my clan badge is?

A. No. It is Lord Lyon King of Arms, and not the College of Arms, who has authority and responsibility over matters relating to clans.

Q. Can you advise on flags, military badges and colours, knighthoods, peerages and related matters?

A. Yes, we can; please send an enquiry to the Officer in Waiting.

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