The Royal Arms



Union of England and Scotland 1603-1707

Commonwealth and Protectorate

Great Britain

Great Britain and Ireland

Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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Union of England and Scotland 1603-1707


When James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne a change in the royal arms was necessary in order to include James’s other kingdom. The resultant arms are a shield divided into four quarters. The old French and English quartered arms, as used for about two hundred years, were put in the first and the fourth quarters. The Scottish lion within its doube tressure flory counterflory was assigned the second quarter, whilst the harp of Ireland made its debut in the royal coat in the third quarter.

Althouugh Ireland had been raused from a lordship to a kingdom by Henry VIII and although the badge of a harp had been associated with Ireland, no proper arms of the dominiion existed. This was put right in the new version of the royal arms.


House of Stuart




James I




Charles I



Commonwealth and Protectorate







Since 1649 and prior to the Protectorate, England, Ireland and later Scotland had been governed as a republic by the Council of State and the Rump Parliament. The Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth, which established England, together with “all the Dominions and Territoryes thereunto belonging”, as a republic, had been passed on 19 May 1649, following the trial and execution of Charles I in January of that year. All of Ireland came under the same governance (after the successful Cromwellian conquest of Ireland (1649)) with the appointment of a Parliamentary military governor in Dublin. Scotland was invaded, subjugated and placed under an English military governor first appointed in 1651.

The process of placing the governance of Scotland on a more long term constitutional footing began shortly after the defeat of the Scottish Royalists and Charles II at the Battle of Worcester. On 28 October 1651 the English Rump Parliament passed a declaration for union of the English and Scottish parliaments, but the process was not completed until an Act of Union was passed on 26 June 1657


The Union shield is described in Prestwich’s Respublica, p. 20: The Inauguration of Oliver Cromwell. [1]


Arms: Alliance: England and Ireland


From: Medals, coins, great seals, and other works of Thomas Simon: engraved and described by George Vertue. London MDCCLXXX


Oliver Cromwell

Lord Protector 1653-1658


When Oliver Cromwell had come to power it became necessary to remove all royal emblems from the arms of the state and its ruler. This was dome by replacing the royal arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland by the emblems of the realms of the former kingdoms. These consisted of the cross of England, the saltire of Scotland and the harp of Ireland. To make the arms of the Lord Protector of the commonwealth the arms of Oliver Cromwell were added on an inescutcheon.

Oliver Cromwell, Sixpence, 1658, by J.S. Tanner


Arms:  Quarterly, 1 and 4, Argent on the cross of St.George Gules (England); 2, Azure, the saltire of St.Andrew Argent (Scotland); 3, Azure, a harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland); on an inescutcheon in pretence Sable a lion rampant Argent (personal Arms of Cromwell).

Crown: A Royal crown alias the Crown of the Lord Protector

Motto: PAX QUAERITUR BELLO (Peace is sought by war.)


The Cromwell Coat, allowed at the Visitation of Northamptonshire and Hundtingdonshire, 1564, to Sir Henry Cromwell alias Williams, grandfather of Oliver, may be based on that attributed to Eystand, Princ eof Ferlex, the Welsh patriarch from whom the pedigree is deduced, Gules, a lion rampant Or.[2]


Funeral coat of arms of Oliver Cromwell, 23.11.1658

Coll. London Museum


This exhibit in the London Museum bears an inscription at the foot which reads as follows: "Oliver Cromwell's scutcheon that was taken from his Hearse ye 23rd Nov. 1658." The whole (background and coat of arms) is painted on silk. It is now mounted on wood, framed and glazed, but it has evidently for a long time been folded into small compass, for there are three distinct transverse folds and a vertical fold

As explained by the Museum, this funeral escutcheon bears the Protectoral Arms of the Lord Protector (who died on 3rd September 1658), impaled with those of his wife's family, the whole surmounted by the Royal Crown. The background is black behind the Protector's Arms and white behind his wife's, to indicate that the wife has survived the husband.

It should be noted that the quarters for England are Or, a cross Gules, and the arms of Scotland Azure, a saltire Or.


Richard Cromwell

Lord Protector 1658-1659


Arms: The same





Union of England and Scotland

restored 1660-1707





Charles II



The Stuart arms restored


James II



As a duke of York James II bore the arms quarterly of England, Scotland and Ireland of his father, with a label for the second son.

As a king he used the same achievement as his father and grandfather but a royal coat of arms without supporters or external ornaments can hardly be found. Instead, the coats of arms of his kingdoms are arranged on his coins in a thoroughly new way, their blazons on crowned shields placed crosswise around the badge of the Order of the Garter.








William III





Mary II


Prince of Orange 1650-1702

∞ Mary II Stuart 1677

Knight of the Garter n° 454

King of Engeland 1689-1702

Queen 1689-1695


When William III and Mary II became joint sovereigns  William as Prince of Orange, could have added a complex quartered coat but opted for a little shield of the arms of Nassau, which he placed in the centre of the Stuart coat.


The heraldry of William and Mary is quite complicated as the blasons of England, Scotland, Ireland and Nassau could be arranged in different ways. Also the external ornaments were varied in a way (see: The achievement)


At first William III bore the arms of his father William II. Æ See Orange


From 1688 to 1689 William and Mary's arms did not include Scotland:

Arms: ¼: 1&4: ¼ France and England; 2&3 Ireland. In fess point: Nassau.  


In1689 their joined arms became:

Arms: 1|2 1. ¼: 1&4: ¼ France and England; 2. Scotland; 3. Ireland. In fess point: Nassau; 2. ¼: 1&4: France and England; 2. Scotland; 3. Ireland


After the death of Mary in 1694 the sinister half was omitted:



Simplified arms of William 1689


Arms: ¼ of England, Scotland, Ireland and France, In fess point Nassau.


Greater arms of William and Mary 1692


Arms ¼: 1&4: ¼ France and England; 2. Scotland; 3. Ireland. In fess point Nassau








After William’s death without issue the crown passed to Mary’s sister Anne but, as she was not of the House of Nassau, she dropped the arms of Nassau and reverted to the Stuart royal arms until, in 1707, the two kingdoms of England and Scotland were united to form ‘one Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain’. As the Act for the Union with Scotland provided that the arms of the United Kingdom shall be ‘as Her Majesty shall appoint’, they were duly altered.


Great Britain




The alteration made in the royal arms to reflect the union of England and Scotland was as illustrated. The arms of the two countries were placed side by side in the first and last quarters.

France was assigned the second quarter and Ireland stayed put. It will be noticed that the double tressure which surrounds the Scotttish lion is discontinued where the coat is joined to that of England. This is an old heraldic convention which affects all forms of border when arms are shown side by side, that is impaled





Arms of England and Scotland

as on the great seal of Queen Anne, commemorating the Union  of 1707


Here the arms are impaled of England and Scotland, the double tressure discontinued.

On the shield a royal crown.





The new version of the arms was short-lived as Anne died in 1714 and, under the terms of the Act of Settlement of 1701, George, Elector of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg and Arch Treasurer of the Holy Roman Empire, succeeded to the throne. Another reshuffle was called for in order to make reference to his German dominions. This was easily effected by removing the last quartering, which was only a repetition of the first, and substituting a coat divided into three, containing the two lions of Brunswick, the lion and hearts of Luneburg and the white horse of Hanover. The little shiled in the centre has on it a representaion of the so-called Crown of Charlemagne. This was the badge of office of the Arch Treasurer of the Empire; other members of the royal family never showed this shield.


George I



Arms of King George I

On Berwick Barracks, Northumberland


George II




George III



Crowned arms of George III

Strap of the Order of the Garter, collars of the Orders of the Thistle and of the Bath. Motto

The arms placed on a mantle and between the English rose and the Scottish thistle


On coins the orders, the crown and the mantle were omitted.



Great Britain and Ireland



In 1801 the royal arms were altered yet again in order to reflect better the new kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland created by the Act of Union with Irelands in 1800. The opportunity was taken to remve the French arms, an excision which some might thinkseveral hundred years overdue. The three kingdoms were each given a quartering, the arms of England being repeated in the last quarter in cause of symmetry. The German arms were place in thecentre, thus enabling the Electoral Bonnet, which by right should have ensigned thme, to be shown.



In 1816 the Electoral bonnet was  replaced by a royal crown as, under the terms of the Congress of Vienna the electorate, which had disappeared when Napoleon overthrew the Empire, wasa created into a kingdom.

Crowned Royal Arms

 with strap and collar of the Order of the Garter


George IV



Royal Arms with crowned helmet and motto, 1826


William IV



Royal arms on crowned mantling





George IV and William Iv succeded to both the British and German posessions and so bore the post-1816 version of the arms unaltered

On the death of William IV in 1837 the crowns were divided. That of Great Britain devolved upon his niece Victoria but that of Hanover, as it could not pass to a woman, went to the next male heir, Williams brother Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

Quee Vicoria remove the shield and crown from the centre of the arms and was left with the royal arms quartered of England, Scotland and Ireland.



Bookplate of Queen Victoria

By Mr. G. W. Eve, R.E.


Crowned arms with strap and collar of the Order of the Garter



1917- Present


Edward VII



Bookplate for Windsor Castle Library

By Mr. G. W. Eve, R.E.



George V


Bookplate of King George V

By Mr. G. W. Eve, R.E.




George V




Great Britain and Northern Ireland



Edward VIII




George VI




Elizabeth II










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 © Hubert de Vries 2018-12-21





[2] Wagner, Anthony:Historic Heraldry of Britain. Oxford Univ. Press, 1939. London, 1972. pp. 74-75