Basutoland was made a British protectorate in 1868. In 1884 it became a British colony. It is completely surrounded by the Union of South Africa. On 4 October 1966 Basutoland became an independent kingdom with the name Lesotho. The first king was Mosheshwe II, a descendant of Mosheshwe I (*1790-†1870) who was the most important chief of Basutoland after 1828. After his tribe, the Southern Sotho, had been defeated by king Shaka of the Zulu, he  regrouped in the Drakensbergen from where he organised an effective resistance against the Zulu. The Boers also did not succeed to chase away the Basuto. After 1868 Mosheshwe I had to cede his policical power to the British. In the time of the British Colony the territory was administered by a British High Commisioner.





Basutoland Colony was granted a coat of arms by Royal Warrant of 20 March 1951. It was:


Arms: Vert, a crocodile poper, in chief a fleece between two garbs Or.

Crest: On a wreath of the colours, an arrow, a spear and a club in saltir charged with a Basuto shield charged with the Crown of St. Edward.

Motto: KHOTSO KE NALA (Peace is Prosperity). [1]


The crocodile is the emblem of the Bakwena tribe from which the chiefs were elected. There are no crocodiles in Basutoland and for that reason it is supposed that the Bakwena once came from the north.  


The High Commisioner of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland had theUnion Jack as his distinctive flag, charged with a crown of laurel enclosing the crowned cypher H.C., adopted 1931.

The Commisioner of Basutoland flew the Union Jack charged with a disc charged with the arms.






First achievement of Lesotho.

On coins 1966.

The first achievement of Lesotho had a shield in the shape of a Basuto shield. It was:


Arms: Or, King Mosheshwe I in full dress, sitting, proper.

Supporters: An arrow, a spear and a club in saltire and two rearig horses proper.

Compartment: A plain and Mount Thaba Putsoa (3,096 m), and in base a crocodile, all proper.

Motto: khotso pula nala (Peace, Water, Prosperity). [2]

King Moshoeshoe I

by Eugène Casalis, 1833


For the effigy of king Mosheshwe I a drawing of him by the french artist Eugène Casalis was taken as a model.  

The horses symbolize nobility, the Thaba Putsoa is the highest mountain of Lesotho. On this mountain King Mosheshwe I. is buried.


The current achievement was adopted on 4 October 1966 and is almost identical to the achievement on the 1966 coins but for the charge of the shield which is now the crocodile from the compartment and the arms of Basutoland Colony


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay


The Crown


Crown of Lesotho

(Coll. of the King of Lesotho)


The crown of Lesotho, made in 1972 has the shape of a Basuto rain cap (Sesa Marena, which also features on the flag), placed on a diadem with a rim of fur. On the diadem are two national achievements, one in front and one in the back On the left and the right sides are golden Basuto shields. [3]


The Royal Standard


Royal Standard 1966-1987


Royal Standard 1987-2006


Royal Standard adopted 2006-10-04


Lesotho Defence Force


Medal for Meritorious Service

Showing the arms of the Royal Lesotho Defence  Force



Royal Lesotho Air Force Roundel



Basutoland Mounted Police Badge


Crowned BMP cypher within a garland of olive and oakl.


Lesotho Mounted Police emblem


Five-pointed star radiant charged with a disc with the achievement of Lesotho and the legend LESOTHO MOUNTED POLICE



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© Hubert de Vries 2006-12-04. Updated 2012-04-18



[1]  Pama, C.: Lions and Virgins. p. 117.

[2]  Only known from coins 1966.

[3]  From:  Brus, R.: Kronen van  de Wereld,  p. 9. The crown was made by  Skinner & Co in Londen.