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Royal Arms of Scotland

The royal arms of Scotland is the official coat of arms of the King of Scots first adopted in the 12th century. With the Union of the Crowns in 1603, James VI inherited the thrones of England and Ireland and thus his arms in Scotland were now quartered with the arms of England (which was itself quartered with France) with an additional quarter for Ireland also added (the arms would continue to alter in later years). Though the kingdoms of England and Scotland would share the same monarch, the distinction in heraldry used in both kingdoms was maintained. When the kingdoms of Scotland and England were united under the Acts of Union 1707 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain, no single arms were created and instead, the royal arms as used in either Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom would continue to differ.

Poetically described as "the ruddy lion ramping in his field of treasured gold", the arms are still widely used today as a symbol of Scotland, and are quartered in the royal arms of Queen Elizabeth II along with the arms of England and Ireland. The arms in banner form is still used by various officials in Scotland and is called the Royal Banner, or more commonly, the Lion Rampant.

The arms feature a red rampant lion with blue tongue and claws situated within a red double border decorated with fleurs-de-lis (known as the royal tressure). The fleurs-de-lis in the royal tressure are traditionally said to represent the "auld alliance" with France, but this is unlikely, as this alliance did not come to exist until the late 13th century, when the royal tressure had been firmly established as part of the arms for many years. It was perhaps added merely to make the arms more distinctive, as the symbol of a rampant lion was already used by several lords and kings.

Atop the shield sits the helm and crest. The helm is full-faced of damasked gold with six bars and features gold mantling lined with ermine. Upon the helm sits the crest, depicting the red lion, forward facing and sitting atop the Crown of Scotland, displaying the Honours of Scotland. (The lion wears the Crown of Scotland and holds both the Sceptre and the Sword of State).

Above the crest is the motto "In Defens", a contraction of "In My Defens God Me Defend" ("defens" being the Scots language spelling of "defence"). Surrounding the shield is the collar of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

The supporters are two crowned and chained unicorns, the dexter supporting a banner of the arms, (only in this instance is the lion depicted facing away from the lance, whereas when flown correctly the lion should face towards or respect the lance or, in most cases, the flag pole); the sinister supporting the national flag of Scotland. The compartment features a number of thistles, the national flower of Scotland.

Ref: DP757

Gallery: Stirling Castle

Royal Arms of Scotland


Country: Scotland

United Kingdom.


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