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Banners of British Royalty

The banners of British royalty were used to represent families of the monarch. These banners often had the royal coat of arms on them and were helpful in identifying the social standing of those who displayed them. Looking at the development of the royal coats of arms and how they were displayed on banners can offer an interesting perspective into the history of British royalty.

Banners of British Royalty

The royals of Britain have always used certain symbols to represent themselves and their country. Careful consideration is given to which symbols are used on banners of British royalty and their coats of arms, but such symbols can be found in other places as well, such as jewelry, architecture, and furnishings.

The Royal Arms of England is specifically "Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langued Azure." This means there are three golden colored lions walking, looking towards the observer. These lions have blue tongues and claws and are placed in a column on a red background. When this symbol is seen on a flag, it is called by several names: the Banner of the Royal Arms, the Royal Banner of England, or the Banner of the King of England.


The coat of arms displayed on the banners of British royalty has changed over the years. The three lions on the present coat of arms began as one lion on the Great Seal of the Realm for King Richard I. In 1198, it was changed into three lions passant, which means they are walking with one of their forepaws raised.

In 1340, Edward III also ruled France, so the royal arms was changed to reflect that. This banner was divided into quarters. The upper right hand quarter and the lower left hand quarter displayed the three lions passant and the other two quarters displayed several golden fleurs de lis on a blue background. There were minor adjustments to this over the years as the relationship between England and France changed.

In 1603, England and Scotland combined and the royal arms changed once again. Now it includes England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The three lions passant appear on the upper left and lower right quarters. The upper right quarter displays a lion encircled with a border that incorporated a fleur de lis pattern for Scotland and the lower left quarter displays a harp for Northern Ireland.

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom is very elaborate. The four quarters of the coat of arms are on a shield that makes up part of the official Royal Coat of Arms. On top of the shield are a helmet and a crown. Atop the crown is a lion with a crown on his head.

Two animals support the shield on either side. On the left is a large lion, again with a crown, red claws, and tongue. To the right is a white unicorn with a chain around him because a wild unicorn was considered a dangerous creature.

Inscribed on a belt that encircles the shield and fastens at the bottom is the Order of the Garter's motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense," which translate as "Shamed be he who thinks ill of it." At the bottom, is a ribbon with the motto "Dieu et mon droit," which means "God and my right."

Uses of Banners and Royal Arms

The Royal Banner of England has the Royal Arms of England on it. This refers to the three golden lions on a red shield, not the more complex coat of arms. When it was displayed in battle, it meant the king or queen was present.

The Royal Arms appears in other places as well. One place is on the British one-pound coin issued in 1997 that shows the three lions passant. The Football Association also has a coat of arms that uses the three lions passant. They are blue lions bearing red tongues and claws on a white shield with a red background. This shield is worn by the England national football team.