VIRGIN ISLANDS

 

 

INTRODUCTION

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Royal British Virgin Islands Police Force

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

The Danes

After 1917

Armed Forces

U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard

U.S. Virgin Islands PoliceDepartment

 

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Introduction

 

The Virgin Islands are the eastern island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, which form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Politically, the north-eastern islands form the British Virgin Islands and the south-western ones the United States Virgin Islands.

Christopher Columbus discovered the islands in 1493 and named them Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes, shortened to Las Vírgenes, after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. They were inhabited by the Arawak, Carib and Cermic, all of whom died out during the colonial period from disease, harsh labor conditions, and genocide.

Later, the islands were re-populated by European colonists, who established sugar plantations (and at least one tobacco plantation) worked by slaves brought from Africa.

The Dutch established a permanent settlement on the island of Tortola by 1648. In 1672, the English captured Tortola from the Dutch, and the British annexation of Anegada and Virgin Gorda followed in 1680. Meanwhile, over the period 1672–1733, the Danish gained control of the nearby islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.

 

British Virgin Islands

 

 

The British Virgin Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom comprising Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, over fifty smaller islands, and Anegada to the north.

 

In the time of Dutch Rule the islands were under the jurisdiction of the West Indies Company  which sealed with a ship sailing to the sinister. Its cypher consisted of the initials G W C.

 

The British Virgin Islands were administered variously as part of the British Leeward Islands or with St. Kitts and Nevis, with an Administrator representing the British Government on the Islands. Separate colony status was gained for the Islands in 1960 and the Islands became autonomous in 1967.

 

A coat of arms for the British Virgin Islands is known from one-penny stamps of 1866. When a part of the Leeward Islands it occured also on its arms, granted by Royal Warrant of 10 April 1909. It is:

 

Arms: Vert, a lady vested white, keeping a burning lamp in her dexter and between another eleven lamps arranged in two pales.

The arms were confirmed on 15 November 1960 and the motto VIGILATE  (Watch!) was added.

 

Royal British Virgin Islands Police Force

 

 

The emblem of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force consist of the crowned arms of the Virgin Islands and its motto  within a garland  and the name of the service on a ribbon below. Motto: BEATE PACIFICI (Blessed are the Peacemakers)

 

U.S. Virgin Islands

 

Some of the Virgin Islands were for a good two hundred years a Danish colony. The Danes settled on St. Thomas around 1670, on St. John in 1718, and on St. Croix in 1733. By warrant of 11 March 1671 they were exploited by the Danish West India Company (Vestindisk kompagni) a Danish chartered company established in 1625, and from August 30, 1680, known as Danish West India - Guinea Company (Det Vestindisk-Guineiske kompagni). This last company exploited also the Danish Gold Coast in present-day Ghana.

In 1775 the islands were placed under direct Danish rule which lasted for 142 years.

In 1917, the Danish West Indies were sold by Denmark to the United States of America for $25 million in gold.

The United States Virgin Islands is an unincorporated territory of the United States comprising St. Croix to the south, with St. John, St. Thomas, and smaller islands. The Virgin Passage separates the U.S. Virgin Islands from the “Spanish Virgin Islands” or “Passage Islands”, Vieques and Culebra, which are the easternmost islands of Puerto Rico.


The Danes

 

The Danish West India Company or Danish West India - Guinea Company (Danish: Vestindisk kompagni or Det Vestindisk-Guineiske kompagni) was a Danish chartered company established in 1625 that exploited colonies in the Danish West Indies, the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. (today’s United States Virgin Islands) and the Danish Gold Coast in present-day Ghana.

 

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the company flourished on the triangle trade, trading on the gold coast for slaves that were then traded for molasses and rum in the West Indies. Until 1754 the company itself was responsible for the colony, but this changed when the Danish government ‘Chamber of Revenues’ took over the administration. From 1760 to 1848, the governing body was known as Vestindisk-guineiske rente- og generaltoldkammer. This led to a brief establishment of Det Guineiske kompagni via Royal resolution of March 18, 1765, to maintain the trade with the Danish Gold Coast colonies. In November, they received both the fort Christiansborg and Fredensborg for 20 years; however, the company never received trade monopoly, like the previous West India Company had. The trade remained free for all Danish, Norwegian, Schleswig and Holstein companies.

In the mid 1770s, the company had so much financial trouble that it was liquidated on November 22, 1776. In expectation of this, the Danish government had already retaken control of the granted forts from August-September 1775.

 

On a map printed in Amsterdam in 1719 and composed by the then governor Erik Bredal (1716-’24) there are arms of the company. [1] They consist of a crowned shield with the cypher of the Danish West India Company and an elephant in chief. On the map in posession of the Amsterdam University Library the arms are yellow (Or), the cypher and the elephant black (Sable).

On the same map there are the arms of the governor himself, consisting of the cypher E.B. on a yellow crowned shield. 

 

Photo courtesey of Amsterdam Universitry Library

 

Arms of the Royal Danish West Indies Company and the cypher of Governor Eric Bredal

 

Maybe the arms were invented by the publisher or the engraver as the cypher of the Company consists of the initials of the name of the Company in dutch: Koninklijke Deense Verenigde Westindische Compagnie. On the other hand dutch may have been the lingua franca in the Caribbean at the time.

Probably the elephant is borrowed from the Danish Elefantenorden (founded 1462, renewed 1693) but it has been the emblem of Africa,  within living memory. In any case, the Companies’ elephant does not have a castle on his back like the one of the Elefantenorden and the elephants of some other African trade-companies.

 

When the islands came under direct Danish rule in 1775, the arms and cypher were replaced by the arms of Denmark and the cypher of its king. This can be seen on official documents from the period of the Vestindisk-guineiske rente- og generaltoldkammer, like in the head of this act of discharge from slavery of 1808. [2])

The emblem consists of the arms of Denmark: Per pale of Denmark and Norway and a base of the Union of Kalmar, the cypher of king Christian VII (1766-1808) and the Danish royal crown. After the loss of Norway in 1814 the arms were reduced to the arms of Denmark.

 

As a result the coinage of the Danish Virgin Islands after 1814 shows the arms of Denmark only.

This, in fact, means that the royal heraldry of the Danish Virgin Islands was the same as the royal heraldry of Denmark itself.

It is only at the end of Danish rule that we meet an emblem that can be interpreted as a symbol for the colony. This was printed on coins issued in 1905. These show an emblem of a trident, a sickle and a caduceus in saltire, symbolizing shipping, agriculture and commerce.

 

On the obverse is the usual royal cypher.

 

After 1917

 

The seal of the territory shows a bananaquit (Coereba flaveola - Coerebidæ) sitting on a branch of the yellow trumpetbush (Tecoma stans) between the maps of the islands St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. Below is the motto UNITED IN PRIDE AND HOPE on a white ribbon.

The legend reads: Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States. The legend of the seal of the Legislature reads: LEGISLATURE OF THE UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS

 

 

ð See illustration in the head of this section

 

On the flag of the territory, adopted 17 May 1921 there is the American eagle between the blue initials V and I on a white cloth.

 

 

VIRGIN ISLANDS ARMY NATIONAL GUARD ELEMENT,

JOINT FORCE HEADQUARTERS  [3]

 

Virgin Islands Army National Guard Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

 

 

 

Virgin Islands Army National Guard Distinctive Unit Insignia

 

Virgin Islands Army National Guard Crest for Coat of Arms

SHOULDER SLEEVE INSIGNIA

DISTINCTIVE UNIT

INSIGNIA

CREST FOR

COAT OF ARMS

 

Shoulder Sleeve Insignia.

 

Description: On a shield 2 inches (5.08 cm) in width and 3 1/8 inches (7.94 cm) in height overall, within a 1/8 inch (.32 cm) yellow border, divided horizontally at center the upper part of light blue (forget-me-not blue) and lower part ultramarine blue, with three green (primitive green) isosceles triangles coincident with the partition line; above the center triangle a yellow disk with three yellow beams radiating to top corners and center

 

Symbolism: The light blue and ultramarine blue represent the clear skies and waters of the Virgin Islands. The three green triangles refer to the principal islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. The golden yellow disk with three radiating beams symbolizes the originally activated four units (HHD VIARNG, 666th Band, 661st MP Company and 662d MP Company), refers to the sunlight of the Islands and also forms the initials VI of the Virgin Islands.

 

Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Virgin Islands Army National Guard on 9 May 1974. It was redesignated with description amended for Headquarters, Territorial Area Command, Virgin Islands Army National Guard on 30 December 1983.

 

Distinctive Unit Insignia.

 

Description: A gold color metal and enamel device 1 3/16 inches (3.02 cm) in width overall consisting of a blue triangular shield with convex sides, point up, bearing three green cedar leaves (hepafoliolate) on a gold triangular fortification with battlements of six merlons on each side, the sides of the fortification parallel with the lines through the apexes of the shield. The stems of the cedar leaves intersecting at the center of the fortification and the capital petal at the junction of the lines of battlements, all above a green scroll, the ends terminating at the lower sides of the shield inscribed "OUR HOME OUR COUNTRY" in gold letters.

 

Symbolism: The yellow cedar is the State plant and flower of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The seven petals also represent the seven different flags that the islands have been under. The three leaves refer to the three principal islands. The fortification symbolizes the protection offered to the islands by the unit. The six battlements on each side represent the first numeral of the initially activated three units (661, 662,666). The ultramarine blue represents the ocean and the sea that surround the islands

 

Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Virgin Islands Army National Guard on 19 March 1974. The insignia was redesignated effective 1 April 1983, for Headquarters, Territorial Area Command, Virgin Islands Army National Guard.

 

Crest.

 

Description: That for the regiments and separate battalions of the Virgin Islands Army National Guard: From a wreath of colors a demi-sun Gules superimposed by a triangle Or bearing three sprigs of cedar Proper intersecting at center of triangle

 

Symbolism: The stylized sunburst typifies the climate of the Islands. The triangle is used to represent support. The yellow cedar is the State plant and flower of the United States Virgin Islands. The three sprigs of cedar refer to the principal islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix. The red and white torse denotes the Islands were settled by Denmark

 

Background: The crest for the color bearing organizations of the Virgin Islands Army National Guard was approved on 12 January 1998.

 

!!  This section is a copy  !!

from:

http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Statecom/VirginIslandsARNGElementJFHQ.htm 

 

U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department

 

 

The seal of the department shows the coast of the Virgin Islands, the map of the islands on a disc, crested with a olive branch and the flags of the U.S. and the U.S. Virgin Islands in saltire, surrounded by the name of the service.

Below is the motto TO PROTECT AND TO SERVE.

 

The arms of the service show the same devices placed on a triangular shield (but no motto).

 

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© Hubert de Vries 2010.02.23 

 



[1] ) Keulen, Gerard van: Nieuwe en aldereerste afteekening van ’t eyland St. Thomas. Met alle desselfs havenen, anker plaatse etc. Amsterdam, 1719.

[2] ) Hornby, Ove: Kolonierne i Vestindien. København, 1980.

[3] ) Formerly:  Headquarter Territorial  Area Command / Virgin Islands Army National Guard