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
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.
islands were re-populated by European colonists, who established sugar
plantations (and at least one tobacco plantation) worked by slaves brought
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.
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.
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
The arms were
confirmed on 15 November 1960 and the motto VIGILATE
(Watch!) was added.
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)
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 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
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
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.  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
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
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. )
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
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 of
Christian IX (1863-1906)
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
ð See illustration in the head of
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
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.
the motto TO PROTECT AND TO SERVE.
of the service show the same devices placed on a triangular shield (but no
force headquarters 
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
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
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. 
© Hubert de Vries 2010.02.23.
 Keulen, Gerard van: Nieuwe en aldereerste afteekening van ’t eyland St. Thomas. Met alle desselfs havenen, anker plaatse etc. Amsterdam, 1719.
 Hornby, Ove: Kolonierne i Vestindien. København, 1980.
 Formerly: Headquarter Territorial Area Command / Virgin Islands Army National