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Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom is the personal coat of arms of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and consequently is used as the official coat of arms of the United Kingdom as a whole.

Present Coat

The shield is quartered, depicting in the first and fourth quarters the three lions passant guardant of England; in the second, the rampant lion and double tressure fleury-counter-fleury of Scotland; and in the third, a harp for Northern Ireland.

The crest is a lion statant wearing the royal crown, itself on another representation of that crown.

The dexter supporter is a likewise crowned lion, symbolizing England, and a chained unicorn symbolizing subservient Scotland.

The coat features both the royal motto Dieu et mon droit (God and my right) and the motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shamed be he who thinks ill of it) on a representation of the Garter behind the shield.

When displayed in Scotland, the Queen's personal coat changes so that the quarters are I and IV, Scotland; II, England; and III, Northern Ireland. The supporters also change sides; the unicorn is gorged of an Eastern crown (with pointed ends) rather than the coronet of crosses and fleurs de lis, and both supporters hold banners. The unicorn holds a banner of St. Andrew, and the lion a banner of St. George.

History of this coat

The Queen inherited this coat as her personal arms upon the death of her father, George VI. The Queen is the only lady in England who is entitled to bear her personal arms upon a shield with a crest, rather than on a lozenge.

The present quarters of the shield date back to the Act of Union with Ireland[?] (1801), as a consequence whereof King George III declared that the arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland would be "first and fouth, England : second, Scotland; third, Ireland; and ... on an escutcheon of Pretence, the Arms of our Dominions in Germany" (Hanover).

In so doing he dropped the fleurs de lis of royal France from the arms, which had been borne since King Edward III claimed the throne of France through inheritance from his mother.

When Queen Victoria acceded, she was prevented by Salic law from inheriting the throne of Hanover and consequently dropped the escutcheon of pretense for Hanover from the arms.

Some texts erroneously state that during the time that the British monarch also claimed the imperial throne of India, the royal crown was changed to the imperial crown (similar but with the centre depressed). When imperial rule of India ceased, the royal crown returned. This is based upon a misunderstanding regarding the style of crown emblazoned in British royal heraldry. There are two main styles of crown that have been used over the years, one with indented arches and one without, which are based on actual crowns belonging to the Crown Jewels. The actual crown shown has been a choice of the monarch of the time. Curiously, because both Victoria and Elizabeth II chose one crown and the various Kings between them chose the other, there is also a common misconception that they comprise distinct Kings' and Queens' crowns, which they do not.

Blazon

The arms may be blazoned Within the Garter, quarterly I and IV gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or, armed and langued azure, for England; II, Or a lion rampant, within a double tressure fleury-counter-fleury gules for Scotland; III, azure, a harp Or stringed argent, for Northern Ireland. Crest: Upon the Royal helmet, the Royal Crown proper, thereon, statant gardant Or, a lion royally crowned, also proper. (The Queen bears additional crests for Scotland and Ireland, but the arms above depict only the one for England.) Supporters: dexter, a lion rampant gardant Or, crowned as the crest; sinister, a unicorn argent, armed, crined, and unguled Or, gorged with a coronet composed of crosses pattées and fleurs de lis, a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back of the last.



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