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Princes of Wales

Titulary Princes of Wales

Ostrich Feather Badge

Arms and Badge of Wales

Government of Wales

Back to United Kingdom



Out of the power struggle in Gwynedd eventually arose one of the greatest of Welsh leaders, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, also known as Llywelyn Fawr (the Great), who was sole ruler of Gwynedd by 1200 and by his death in 1240 was effectively ruler of much of Wales Llywelyn made his 'capital' and headquarters at Abergwyngregyn on the north coast, overlooking the Menai Strait. His son Dafydd ap Llywelyn followed him as ruler of Gwynedd, but king Henry III of England would not allow him to inherit his father's position elsewhere in Wales. War broke out in 1241 and then again in 1245, and the issue was still in the balance when Dafydd died suddenly at Abergwyngregyn, without leaving an heir in early 1246. Llywelyn the Great's other son, Gruffudd had been killed trying to escape from the Tower of London in 1244. Gruffudd had left four sons, and a period of internal conflict between three of these ended in the rise to power of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (also known as Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf Llywelyn, Our Last Leader). The Treaty of Montgomery in 1267 confirmed Llywelyn in control, directly or indirectly, over a large part of Wales. However, Llywelyn's claims in Wales conflicted with Edward I of England, and war followed in 1277. Llywelyn was obliged to seek terms, and the Treaty of Aberconwy greatly restricted his authority. War broke out again when Llywelyns brother Dafydd ap Gruffudd attacked Hawarden Castle on Palm Sunday 1282. On 11 December 1282, Llywelyn was lured into a meeting in Builth Wells castle with unknown Marchers, where he was killed and his army subsequently destroyed. His brother Dafydd ap Gruffudd continued an increasingly forlorn resistance. He was captured in June 1283 and was hanged, drawn and quartered at Shrewsbury. In effect Wales became England's first colony until it was finally annexed through the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542.


South Wales

The expression 'south Wales' is not officially defined, and its meaning has changed over time.

Between the Statute of Rhuddlan of 1284 and the Laws in Wales Act 1535, crown land in Wales formed the Principality of Wales. This was divided into a Principality of South Wales and a Principality of North Wales.The southern principality was made up of the counties of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, areas that had previously been part of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth ('the southern land'). The legal responsibility for this area lay in the hands of the Justiciar of South Wales based at Carmarthen. Other parts of southern Wales were in the hands of various Marcher Lords.

The Laws in Wales Acts 1542 created the Court of Great Sessions in Wales based on four legal circuits. The Brecon circuit served the counties of Brecknockshire, Radnorshire and Glamorgan while the Carmarthen circuit served Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Monmouthshire was attached to the Oxford circuit for judicial purposes. These seven southern counties were thus differentiated from the six counties of north Wales.

The Court of the Great Sessions came to an end in 1830, but the counties survived until the Local Government Act 1972 which came into operation in 1974. The creation of the county of Powys merged one northern county (Montgomeryshire) with two southern ones (Breconshire and Radnorshire).

There are thus different concepts of south Wales. Glamorgan and Monmouthshire are generally accepted by all as being in south Wales. But the status of Breconshire or Carmarthenshire, for instance, is more debatable. In the western extent, from Swansea westwards, local people might feel that they live in both south Wales and west Wales. Areas to the north of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains are generally considered to be in Mid Wales.




The Dragon


Dacian draco-standard in the Museo Capitolini, Rome


Dragons were concieved in ancient Greece and Rome as beneficient. They were sharp-eyed dwelles in the inner parts of the earth, wise to its secrets and revealing oracles. They were powerful creatures to invoke as guardian genii. Their protective and terror-inspiring qualities made them suitable for use as warlike emblems from very early times. The dragon was the emblem of the Dacians, from whom the Romans adopted it in Trajan’s time, and just as the eagle was the emblem of the legion of ten cohorts, so the dragon became the emblem of the cohort. Bas reliefs of the Dacian dragon – which was of solid from, and supported by a pole from the middle – can be seen on Trajan’s column; the Roman dragon, which was made of cloth, is carved on the arch of Septimus Severus. Later the purple dragon became the emblem of the Byzantine emperors.

The dragon was also known to the Celtic peaoples of western Europe in pre-Christian times, and ornaments, with stylised dragon-like motifs, were worn by the native Britons under the Roman occupation. As the emblem of the cohorts, which were stationed in various parts of Britain, the dragon would be well-known and feared by the inhabitants; so that when the legions left for good in 410, it was natural for Romanised leaders to adopt as their own an emblem which had affiniets with their own traditions.

In the course of time the dacian and roman draco, initially a serpent-shaped beast with a wide-open mouth, received a pair of wings and later two feet.


Winged serpent

From the Stuttgarter Psalter, 9th cent AD


Geoffrey of Monmouth records in his Historia Regnum Britanniæ that king Uther Pendragon, the father of the famous King Arthur, saw a vision of ‘a star of marvellous bigness and brightness’ from which a ray stretched forth whereon was a ball of fire in the likeness of a dragon. Uther consulted the famous wizard Merlin and, in the light of the latter’s prophesy, ‘bade two dragons to be wrought in gold in the likeness of a dragon he had seen upon the ray of the star. And when that they had been wrought in marvellous cunning craftmanship, he made offering of the one unto the chief church of the See of Winchester, but the other did he keep himself to carry about with him in the wars’.


Geoffrey of Monmouth: Prophesies of Merlin

British Library MS Cotton Claudius B VII f.224: Merlin &Vortigern.

 Below the vaults the red and the white dragon / wyvern


Here the dragons are winged and have two feet


In Book 5 & 6 Geoffrey of Monmouth narrates that:

After the Romans leave, Vortigern comes to power, and invites the Saxons under Hengist and Horsa to fight for him as mercenaries, but they rise against him.

Book 7: The Prophecies of Merlin

At this point Geoffrey abruptly pauses his narrative by inserting a series of prophecies attributed to Merlin. Some of the prophecies act as an epitome of upcoming chapters of the Historia, while others are veiled allusions to historical people and events of the Norman world in the 11th-12th centuries. The remainder are obscure.

Book 8

After Aurelius Ambrosius defeats and kills Vortigern, becoming king, Britain remains in a state of war under him and his brother Uther.


Merlin also appears in Mattheus Parisiensis: Chronica Majora, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College Ms 26, fol. 66: Prophesies of Merlin: Bust of Merlin above two dragons and the boar of Cornwall: Incipit prophetia merlini - Albus draco - rubeus draco.


The West Saxon invaders of Britain, of whom Uther Pendragon’s son Arthur defeated at the famous Battle of Mount Badon about AD 500, but who recovered to drive back the British about a century later, were using a dragon standard themselves at the battle of Burford in 752. We read of the dragon standard again at the Battle of Assingdom in 1016 between Edmund Ironside and Canute. Also, the Bayeux Tapestry has a vivid scene of the stricken king Harold being killed by Norman knights as he stands at his command-post beside the Dragon standard of Wessex.


King Harold holding a dragon-standard, killed from behind.

Winged, two feeted dragon = wyvern


On the same Bayeux tapestry we meet the winged and two-feeted dragon painted on shields.


Envoys of William of Normandy on the Bayeux Tapestry

Both bear dragon/wyvern shields


Kingdom of Gwynedd



Rulers of Gwynedd

Merfyn the Frecled


Rhodri I, the Great




Idwal the Bald 


Hywel I, the Good


Iago I


Hywel II






Cynan I


Llewelyn I


Iago II


Gruffydd I


Part of Powys and Arwystli


Gruffydd II




Cynan II


David I


Rhodri II


Gruffydd III



Burke writes about the arms of the Principality of Wales:


“It would only mislead to insert here the various coats and their variations ascribed by mediaeval writers on heraldry to the early Rulers of All Wales, none of whom could have had an Heraldic shield. Griffith ap Cynan is stated to have borne “Ar. three lions pass. gu”. A ms. in the College of Arms assigns to Rodri Mawr, last King of All Wales “Ar. three lions pas reguard. coward gu”. This coat was used on their seals (quasi Princes of Wales) by the eldest sons of Edward IV and Henry VII. The generally accepted “Arms of Wales” are those borne in the 13th century by Iorwerth Drwyndwg, and by the Princes of Wales to the last Prince, Llwellyn, viz., Quarterly, ar and gu, four lions pass. counterchanged. The arms of Powis and of South Wales (from which the well known coat of Talbot is derived) will be found under their proper heads. (Resp. Edward (V) & Arthur.) [1].


Llewelyn II, ap Iorwerth (The Great)


Prince of Gwynnedd 1194-†1240

Prince of Powys Wenwynwyn 1216-1240


During Llywelyn's boyhood, Gwynedd was ruled by two of his uncles, who split the kingdom between them, following the death of Llywelyn's grandfather, Owain Gwynedd, in 1170. Llywelyn had a strong claim to be the legitimate ruler and began a campaign to win power at an early age. He was sole ruler of Gwynedd by 1200 and made a treaty with King John of England that year. Llywelyn's relations with John remained good for the next ten years. He married John's natural daughter Joan in 1205, and when John arrested Gwenwynwyn ap Owain of Powys in 1208, Llywelyn took the opportunity to annex southern Powys. In 1210, relations deteriorated, and John invaded Gwynedd in 1211. Llywelyn was forced to seek terms and to give up all lands west of the River Conwy, but was able to recover them the following year in alliance with the other Welsh princes. He allied himself with the barons who forced John to sign Magna Carta in 1215. By 1216, he was the dominant power in Wales, holding a council at Aberdyfi that year to apportion lands to the other princes.

Following King John's death, Llywelyn concluded the Treaty of Worcester with his successor, Henry III, in 1218. During the next fifteen years, Llywelyn was frequently involved in fights with Marcher lords and sometimes with the king, but also made alliances with several major powers in the Marches. The Peace of Middle in 1234 marked the end of Llywelyn's military career, as the agreed truce of two years was extended year by year for the remainder of his reign. He maintained his position in Wales until his death in 1240 and was succeeded by his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn.


Llywelyn married Joan, daughter of King John in 1205, but he spent much of his time fighting the English army. Llywelyn united Wales by finally capturing southern Powys from prince Gwenwynwyn.



At least three impressions have surviverd of the seals of Llewelyn ab Iorwerth. They are all equestrian, and from at least two different matrices, but show no heraldry.




Llewelyn, styling himself Prince of Aberffrawq and Lord of Snowdom, writing shortly after 2 May 1230 to William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, explained that he sealed this letter with his secret or privy seal, because he had not got his Great Seal with him. Evan Evans (1731-’88) copied a charter of Llewelyn ab Iorwerth dated 1230, and described the seal as being of green wax ‘with the print of a man in armour of the one side, & a floure of the other side, and the Tagg is of twist silk’


Seal of Llewellyn ap Iorwerth, 1209


Armoured man in surcoat holding a sword in his right hand and a shield on his left arm mounted on horse galloping to the right

National Library of Wales Image file no.: sea01126 


Seal of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth

National Museums & Galleries of Wales (Item reference: 69.97/1)


The arms of Llewellyn are described in a german roll of arms:


26  Vallisie ducis est auri draco, qui dat ab or

     Flammas, sed spacio croceo depingo colore

(Conrad. von Mure  vs. 52-53)


[In the arms of the Duke of Wales is a golden dragon

which spits fire from its mouth, the field however is painted yellow] [3]

Gravestone of Joan Plantagenet.


Was “alas! used as a horse-watering-trough, was rescued from such indignity, and placed here for preservation, as well as to excite serious meditations on the transitory nature of all sublunary distinctions.”  St. Mary’s Church, Beaumaris


David II / Dafydd ap Llywelyn




Owen and Blakeaway in their History of Shrewsbury described, with the aid of an engraving, the seal attached to a bond by David ap Llewelly, the son of Llewelyn te Great by his wife Joan, daugher of King John, to his uncle:  Henry III, in 1241 or 1242. This was from a double matrix, very imperfect. [4]


A representation of the arms Dafydd is given by Mathew Paris:

1246 Death of David of Wales: inverted shield (Chronica Majora Corpus Christi College MS 16 fol. 198)


Gryffyd ap Llewelyn



His elder brother Gruffyd, who was excluded from succession, bore the same arms according to Matthew Paris. He died while trying to escape from the Tower in London:


Death of Gruffydd of Wales 1244:


1244 reversed shield (quarterly or and gules, four lions passant counterchanged. 

(Mattheus Parisiensis Chron Maj. Corp. Chr. Coll ms 16 fol 169; HA. BL. Ms Roy 14. C. VII, fol 136 with the legend: Turris lond(oniarum)) (Lewis)


The design of the arms proves its english origin and the four lions may be for the four parts of Wales still in posession of David: Carnarvon, Merioneth, Cardigan and Carmar­then or, less probable: Gwynnedd, Merioneth Deheubarth and Aberffrawq.


Llewelyn III, ap Gruffydd



Son of Gryffyd ap Llewelyn 1244


Princes of Wales


Llewelyn III, ap Gryffydd



In 1267 Henry III aknowledged Llewelyn III, ap Gryffydd as Prince of Wales at the Treaty of  Montgomery.

1272 Wijnbergen Roll n° 1304. [5]

Arms: Ecartelé d’or au lion de gueules et de gueules au lion d’or.

Legend: Le Roy de gales.


1273 Llewellin ap Griffith, escartillé d'or et de gules quatre leons de l'un et l'autre. (Walford, C21).[6]



1281 Prince de Gales, l'escu esquartelé d'or et de gules a quatre lepars de l'un en l'autre. (Camden Roll D27)


Dafydd ap Gryffydd / David III



Upon the death of his brother Llywelyn III ap Gruffudd, on 10 December 1282, Dafydd ap Gruffydd briefly took over as Prince of Wales.

He was captured in June 1283 and was hanged, drawn and quartered at Shrewsbury


The arms of Dafydd are shown in St. George’s Roll and in Lord Marshal’s Roll [7]:


In St. George’s Roll as: Quartertly Or and Azure, four lions passant counter changed.,




St. George’s Roll [College of Arms, London, MS Vincent 164 ff. 1–21b] is dating from c. 1285.


In the Lord Marshals Roll David, son ffrere, (of Llewellyn) the previous coat being that of Prynce de Wales, as: Quarterly Argent and Azure, four lions passant counter changed.


The Lord Marshal’s Roll [Society of Antiquaries, London, MS 664, vol.1, ff. 19–25] is dating from 1295, containing 565 painted coats.


house of plantagenet

Edward (II) of Caernarvon 


Prince of Wales 1301-1307

King of England 1307-1327


By the 1284 Statute of Rhuddlan, the Principality of Wales was incorporated into England and was given an administrative system like the English, with counties policed by sheriffs. English law was introduced in criminal cases, though the Welsh were allowed to maintain their own customary laws in some cases of property disputes


The tradition of conferring the title "Prince of Wales" on the heir apparent of the monarch is usually considered to have begun in 1301, when King Edward I of England (1272-1307) invested his son Edward of Caernarfon with the title at a Parliament held in Lincoln. According to legend, the king had promised the Welsh that he would name “a prince born in Wales, who did not speak a word of English” and then produced his infant son, who had been born at Caernarfon, to their surprise. However, the story may well be apocryphal, as it can only be traced to the 16th century, and, in the time of Edward I, the English aristocracy spoke Norman French, not English (some versions of the legend include lack of knowledge in both languages as a requirement, and one reported version has the very specific phrase “born on Welsh soil and speaking no other language”).


Arms of Edward II of Carnarvon,

On his seal 1305


Arms: Gules three llions passant guardant Or and a label of five Azure


Edward, Black Prince


Prince of Wales 1342-1376

1st Knight of the Garter, 1350

Duke of Aquitania 1360-1375


Edward bore, as the eldest son of the reigning king, the royal arms with a mark of cadency of a white label with three pendants.


King Edward III grants Aquitania to the Black Prince  1360

The king and the prince both in coat of arms, the one of the prince with a collar of a label of three


Manuscript BL Cotton MS Nero D VI

Folio 31

Dating 1386-1399

From England (exact location unknown)

Holding Institution British Library



Arms: ¼ France (ancient) and England (also without label)

Gelre, fol. 56 v° n° 557. with the legend: Die Prense


Original Helmet , crest  and shield of Edward Prince of Wales

from his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral, the label on the shield missing


I. Arms ¼ France (ancient) and England and a label of three Argent

Crest: On a ducal hat a lion statant


Pewter  funerary badge of Edward

 British Museum Inv. nr. OA.100


The Black Prince worshipping the Trinity;  kneeling before God seated on a rainbow and holding before him the Crucifix; wearing a tabard of the Arms of England and having thrown down his gauntlet before him; above him an angel in clouds holding his shield: quarterly England and France ancient with a label of three points; behind him an angel holding his helmet and crest of the Lion of England. All in open-work and enclosed within a Garter, inscribed hony coyt ke mal y pense. The Order of the Garter was founded 1348.


The arms on his tomb in Canterbury


In his will Edward provided that at his funeral two men dressed in his coats of arms and helmets had to precede the bier, one in his coat of arms for war with the arms quarterly and the other in his coat of arms for peace with his emblem of ostrich-feathers and for banner of the same, and that the one dressed for war had to be followed by an armed man bearing after him a black pennon with ostrich feathers. [8]


The will reads:


“et volons que entour la ditte tombe soient dusze escuchons de laton, chacun de la lagesse d’un pie, dont les syx seront de noz armez entiers, et les autres six de plumez d’ostruce, et que sur chucun escuchon soit escript, c’est assavier’ sur cellez de noz armez et sur les autres des plumes dostruce, houmont...”..”et volons que a quele heure que notre corps soit amenez parmy la ville de Canterbire tantq a la priore q’deux destrez covertz de noz armez et deuz homez armez en noz armez et en noz heaumes voisent devant dit n’re corps, c’est assavoir, l’un pur la guerre de noz armez entiers quertellez, et l’autre pur la paix de noz bages des plumes d’ostruce ove quartre baneres de mesme la sute et que checun de ceux q’porteront les ditz baneres ait sur la teste un chapeu de noz armes.”


Æ See below: Ostrich Feather Badge


Richard (II)

PoW 1376-1377

King 1377-1397


Arms: ¼: 1&4 France (ancient); 2&3 England and a label of three Argent.

(On his seal, 1377 ex Arthur Fox-Davies)


Henry of Monmouth (V)


PoW 1399-1413

King 1413-1422


Seal of Henry of Monmouth (later Henry V)


Arms: ¼: 1&4 France (modern); 2&3 England and a label of three Argent.

Crest: A swan

Supporters: Two ostrich feathers


Owain Glyndŵr  / Owen Glendower


ca. 1400-1410



In 1400, a Welsh nobleman, Owain Glyndŵr (or Owen Glendower), revolted against King Henry IV of England. Owain inflicted a number of defeats on the English forces and for a few years controlled most of Wales. Some of his achievements included holding the first Welsh Parliament at Machynlleth and plans for two universities. Eventually the king's forces were able to regain control of Wales and the rebellion died out, but Owain himself was never captured. His rebellion caused a great upsurge in Welsh identity and he was widely supported by Welsh people throughout the country.

As a response to Glyndŵr's rebellion, the English parliament passed the Penal Laws against Wales. These prohibited the Welsh from carrying arms, from holding office and from dwelling in fortified towns. These prohibitions also applied to Englishmen who married Welsh women. These laws remained in force after the rebellion, although in practice they were gradually relaxed


According to his privy seal and great seal Owain Glymdwr bore a quarterly of lions rampant. This, it seems, was imitated from the princes of Wales, descendants of Llewellyn ap Iorwerth. No kinship has been found between Owain Glyndŵr and the house of Gwynnedd and the adoption of its arms may have been to gain support for the rebirth of a local kingdom.

Although we have no direct evidence as to the colours of Owain Glyndwr’s arms, it is probably safe that they were the same as those of the Princes of Gwynedd, and that they were intended to represent the arms of Gwynnedd, later Wales


The Tradition

The use of the arms of the Princes of Gwynned had been continued in the 14th century by Thomas ap Rhodri (†1363 ca) on his seal dated 1357 and by his son Owain Lawgoch / Owain ap Thomas ap Rhodri (c. 1330 – †1378), a Welsh soldier who served in Spain, France, Alsace, and Switzerland. He led a Free Company fighting for the French against the English in the Hundred Years' War. As the last politically active descendant of Llywelyn the Great in the male line, Owain was a claimant to the title of Prince of Gwynedd and of Wales.[9]

He was a son of Thomas ap Rhodri, himself a son of Rhodri ap Gryffydd, grandson of Llwellyn. His arms are documented in the Armorial Gelre:


Die Hertoghe v. Corruwaege: ¼ Or and Gules four lions passant guardant counter changed.

(Gelre, fol. 104 n° 1477. Adam-Even remarks: Cornwall Yvain (Owen) of Wales (1369)) [10]


Seal of Owain ap Thomas ap Rhodri, 1376 (Æ  28 mm.)


It is suggested by this entry that the arms quarterly have always been borne by the descendants of Gryffyd ap Llewelyn.


The arms of Owain Glyndŵr  

The decorated Buckle off the bridle of Prince Owain Glyndwr's Horse

Gilt (oxidized) bronze harness mounting bearing the arms of Owain Glyndwr, found at Harlech Castle.

By permission of the National Museum of Wales


 Privy seal of Owain Glyndŵr  (Æ 48 mm.), 1404


Arms: Quarterly [Or and Gules] four lions rampant counterchanged.

Crown.: A crown of five fleurons.

Supporters: D.: A dragon/wyvern; S. A lion guardant.



Great seal


1405 Seal of majesty: Owain Glendwr seated on a throne with ciborium, the clothes of the arms, upheld by angels. Two lions at his feet. L.: X owenus dei gracia princeps wallie. D.: 22.01.1404/5 Douët d’Arcq  Archives de l'Empire, Coll. des sceaux  N°s 10135, 10136.  Æ 85 mm.


The reverse of this seal shows the mounted Owain in armour and holding a sword and shield. The shield bears the royal arms of the Princes of Gwynedd, summing up Owain's aspirations.


Equestrian Seal of Owain Glyndwr, 1405. Æ 85 mm


Arms: ¼ Or and Gules four lions rampant counter changed .

Crest: A dragon

Legend.: X owenus dei gracia princeps wallie. [11]


The dragon  might perhaps be Or, since Adam of Usk states in his Chronicle  1377-1421 that Owen in 1401 used a standard of a golden dragon on a white field:  Oenus (.....) vexillum suum album cum dracone aureo ibidem displicuit; .... [12]

The golden dragon on the standard is derived from the arms of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth which had the dragon on a yellow field. It shows the ambition of Owain to resore the ancient kingdom of Gwynned.


Henry V



Arms: ¼: 1&4 France (modern); 2&3 England and a label of three Argent.


Edward of Lancaster


son of Edward IV

From: Armorial le Breton, 1450 ca.


Edward (V)


PoW 1471-1483


Arms: ¼: 1&4 France (modern); 2&3 England and a label of three Argent.


Edward of Middleham


PoW 1483-1484


Son of Richard III


Arms: Argent, three lions passant regaurdant coward in pale Gules





Arms of Prince Arthur above the entrance of Carew Castle


The banner used by Catherine of Aragon when married to Arthur, Prince of Wales.

On the banner:

1|2: 1. ¼ France and England and a label of three. 2. ¼ Castile-Leon and Aragon-Sicily-Trinacria.

The staff is held by the eagle of Aragon


Henry (VIII)



Edward (VI)


Prince of Wales 1537-1547

King of England 1547-1553


Wales was added to England by decree of 1536 and ceased to exist as a political and territorial unit.   In 1543 the decree was extended by another decree. The Principality of Wales was maintained as a historical notion because the title ‘Prince of Wales’ was reserved for the heir apparent.


Coat of Arms of Prince Edward (1537 - 1553),

Probably from Windsor Castle

Artist/maker: unknown, English

Geography: Made in England

Date: 1537-1547

Medium: Stained glass

Dimensions: 47.6 x 38.1 cm

Curatorial Department: European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art. Currently not on view

Accession Number:1952-90-57

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Widener Dixon, 1952


Titulary Princes of Wales


Elizabeth I


Queen 1558-1603

crowned 1559



Triptych with the royal coat of arms,

from the parish church of Preston, Suffolk, and made to mark the coronation.

Royal Museums Greenwich


Elizabetha Magna Regina Anglia - Suffolk, Preston st Mary

Triptych Royal Coat of Arms of Elizabeth l dating to late 1500s the only one remaining in Suffolk. It appears to have been cut down from a previous rectangular board, which had borne the arms of Edward Vl. Painted by William Milles of Lavenham for / or by historian Robert Reyce of Preston Hall whose will states "To William Milles of Lavenham painter and glazier - 40s with all my boxes of painting coolers, with the desire that soe long as hee shall live and bee able to worke, that hee doe from tyme to tyme renewe and amend as need shall require the decaies of the coolers, words, letters, copartimentes and forms of those tables, writeinges and inscriptions which hee hath at any tyme made for mee as they are fixed in the parish church or chancel of Preston aforesaid"


Heraldic information:

Most of the quarters of this coat of arms are arms invented by 16th century heraldist and ascribed by them to quite arbitrary historic kingdoms.

The coat of arms is divided in two halves, the dexter half of the arms of England and of Rome.

The sinister half  is divided per fess, the upper half quarterly of: 1. Later Saxon monarchs 2 East Angles 3 Christian west Saxons 4 Northumberland (?) and inescutcheon Cornish Kings

the base: 1. Heathen Britons; 2.? 3. Edmund the Elder; 4. England. And  enté en point of Ireland.

On an inescutcheon ¼: 1&4: North Wales; 2&3 Welsh princes.

Achievement of Queen Elizabeth I


Arms: Alliance: 1. France/England; 2. Ireland; 3. Wales: ¼ Gules and Or, four lions passant guardant counterchanged

Crown:  closed crown crested of England and lambrequiend Or and ermine between the cypher E.R.

Order : Of the Garter

Supporters: D.: A crowned lion Or;  S.: A dragon Or.

Motto.: semper eadem. (Always the same).


Henry Frederick


PoW 1610-1612

Knight of the Garter n° 392


I. Arms: ¼: 1&4. ¼ of France and England; 2. Scotland; 3. Ireland. And a labl of three Argent.

Crest: Engeland.

Order: Of the Garter

Supporters: Een gekroonde leeuw en een gehalsterde eenhoorn.


II. Arms: Wales (i.e. ¼, vier gaande en aanziende leeuwen (op zijn tegenzegel ca 1616). (Pinches, p. 173).


Echter, op een schilderij van Engelse schepen op de rede van Vlissingen van Hendrick Vroom (Frans Halsmuseum Haarlem, 1623) dat een gebeurtenis uit 1613 voorstelt staat op de spiegel van een driemaster rechts op de voorstelling:


Achievement of the Prince of Wales

Arrival of Frederick of the Palatinate and Elizabeth Stuart in Vlissingen 26.April 1613

By Hendrick Vroom. Coll. Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem.


Arms: ¼: 1. France; 2. Scotland; 3. Ireland; Wales: Argent: three lions coward passant guardant Gules

Crown:  closed crown with a bonnet Azure. .

Order : Of the Garter

Supporters: D.: A  lion Or;  S.: A Unicorn Or.


Here the unicorn is not crowned and shackled. This is also the last time that the arms of Wales with the lions coward was used.


[In the main mast of the Prince Royal, built 1610 and also represented:  ¼ France, Scotland, Ireland and Engeland. Royal crown, Order of the Garter and a lion and a unicorn for supporters.


Charles I


Knight of the Garter n° 404



Charles II


Knight of the Garter n° 436



Arms: ¼ 1&4: ¼ France and England; 2. Scotland; 4. Ireland. And a label of three points Argent.

Crest: On a helmet guardant lambrequined Or and ermine on a ducal hat a lion statant guardant Or royally crowned and differenced with a label of three points Argent.

Order: Of the Garter

Supporters: The lion of England and the Unicorn of Scotland, differenced with a label of three points Argent.


James Francis Edward



George Augustus



Frederick Louis



Thomas Badeslade:  To his Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales &c. &c. &c., 1742


Arms: ¼ 1. 1|2 of England and Scotland; 2. France; 3. Ireland; 4. Hannover. And a label of three Argent

Crown: A princely crown

Order: Of the Garter


Supporters: The lion of England and the unicorn of Scotland each ensigned with a label of three Argent.


Arms: ¼ 1. 1|2 of England and Scotland; 2. France; 3. Ireland; 4. Hannover. And a label of three Argent

Crest: A princely crown and the crest of England on a helmet lambrequined Or and ermine

Order: Of the Garter

Supporters: The lion of England and the unicorn of Scotland each ensigned with a label of three Argent.

(1746, http://www.sosantikvarium.hu)


George William Frederick




George August Frederick



Achievement of George August Frederick, later George III

On a dish, 1812


Albert Edward



Photo H.d.V. 1997

Intarsia in the Palace of the Grandmaster of the Order of St. John,

La Valetta, Malta


The Most High, Most Puissant, and Most Illustrious Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, Duke of Saxony, Duke of Cornwall and Rothsay, Earl of Chester, Carrick, andDublin, Baron of Renfrew, and Lord of the Isles, Great Steward of Scotland, K.G., K.P., K.T. , G.C.B., G.C.S.I., &c., &c.


Arms: - Quarterly, 1st and 4th, gu. three lions pass. guard. in pale, or, England; 2nd, or, a lion ramp. within a double tressure flory and counterflory gu., Scotland; 3rd. az. a harp or, stringed ar., Ireland; differenced by a label of three points ar. and in the centre of the said royal arms an escutcheon of the arms of the august house of Saxony viz., barry of the or and sa. a crown of rue in bend vert, for Saxe-Coburg.

Crest - On the coronet of the Prince of Wales a lion statant guard. or, crowned with the like coronet, and differenced with a label of three points ar.

Badge - A plume of three ostrich feathers ar. enfiled by a cornet composed of fluers-de-lis and crosses pattée alternately, and motto, “Ich Dien”,  being the badge of H.R.H. as Prince of Wales.

Supporters - Dexter a lion guard. or, crowned with the Prince of Wales coronet, and differenced by a label of three points ar.; sinister a unicorn ar., gorged with a coronet composed of fleurs-de-lis and crosses patée, therefrom a chain reflexed over the back or, differenced with a label of three points ar.

Motto - Ich Dien.


*Around the shield is the strap of the Order of the Garter.


George Frederick Ernst Albert


Albert Edward Christiaan George André Patrick David



Photo HdV 1997

Intarsia in the Palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John

La Valetta, Malta


Arms: ¼: 1 & 4: England; 2. Scotland; 4. Ireland; and a label of three points Argent. In fess point ¼ Or and Gules four lions passant guardant counterchanged for Wales

Crown: On a helmet guardant Or, lambrequined Or and ermine, the crown of St. Edward.

Crest: On the coronet of Wales a lion statant guardant, crowned with a likely crown an difference with a label of three points Argent.

Order: The strap of the Order of the Garter.

Badges: 1. The badge of the Prince of Wales. 2. A dragon Gules, standing on a ground Vert for the Principality of Wales.

Supporters: The lion guardant of England and the Unicorn of Scotland, both differenced with a label of three points Argent.

Motto: ich dien


Charles Philip Arthur George (Prince Charles)



H.R.H. Charles Philip Arthur George, K.G. Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, and Baron of Renfrew; Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.


            Arms - The Royal arms, with over all a label of three points argent, and on an inescutcheon ensigned by the coronet of his degree, quarterly, Or and gules four lions passant guardant counterchanged (Principality of Wales).

            Crest and Supporters - As in the Royal arms and with the coronet of his degree and charged on the shoulder with a label as in the arms.

            Order - Garter

            Motto - Ich Dien

            Badges - The badge of the heir apparent A plume of three ostrich feathers argent enfiled by a royal coronet or with the motto “Ich Dien”, and the badge of Wales On a mount vert a dragon passant wings elevated gules charged on the shoulder with a label of three points argent.

In base of the achievement may be added the coat of arms of Cornwall Sable, fifteen besants, five, four, three, two and one, ensigned by the coronet of his degree.


(Franklyn, Julian & John Tanner: An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Heraldry. Illustrated by Violetta Keeble. Pergamon Press, Oxford.)




Ostrich Feather Badge


On the tomb of Edward Black Prince there is also his “coat of arms for peace” on which  three ostrich feathers are introduced:

Arms:  Sable three ostrich-feathers ensigned  ich dien (I serve) on a scroll on their shafts Argent.


For the arms with the ostrich-feathers many explanations were proposed which are summed up by Wagner. [13] A more recent article was published in 1980. [14]

I may point out that three ostrich-feathers were the crest of a Hungarian ban (royal administrator) in the time of  King Louis the Great (1342-1382). As Edward was a royal administrator for Aquitania he  may have copied the hungarian badge by lack of an appropriate badge for the office in French or English heraldic repertory.


Hungarian three-ostrich-feathers crest

On  St. Simeon’s shrine in Zadar  [15]


The ostrich feathers were adopted by Richard II when deposed and  in exile as a personal impresa, then much the fashion.


Detail of a miniature of Richard II knighting Henry of Monmouth in Ireland;

Jean Creton, La Prinse et mort du roy Richart, Paris, c. 1401 – c. 1405;

 BL, Harley 1319, f. 5r


Richard II, crowned, and Henry of Monmouth both without shield but the horse of Richard with red horseclothes strewn with golden ostrich feathers. On his pennon also golden ostrich feathers but on a blue cloth. Above the banner of the arms of England.

As Richard was called ‘Of Bordeaux’ he may be represented here as the administrator of Aquitaine, like his father had before with the arms with the feathers.


A single feather was imitated as an impresa (personal emblem) in England by the brothers and nephews of Edward. [16]


1. Edward of Woodstock 1376

2. Thomas of Woodstock 1397

3. John of Gaunt 1399

4. Richard (II) 1400

5. Edmund of York 1402

6. John Beaufort 1410

7. Thomas of Lancaster 1421

8. John of Bedford 1435

9. Humphrey of Gloucester  1447


During the reign of Henry VII the number of feathers was augmented to three, the number on the arms of Edward Black Prince and bound together with a floral ornament. The motto is written on a label.


Badge of the Prince of Wales, from an Exchequer account of 1508.


The badge was further developed in the time of Henry VIII  for Prince Edward (VI *1537-†1553) by adding a crown around the shafts of the feathers and a white ribbon with the motto in golden lettering.


Ostrich feather badge coat of arms, 1540


Arms: Per pale Azure and Gules, three ostrich feathers  surrounded by a crown Argent and Or, and the motto ICH DIEN

The shield between the cypher E.P.


Place of origin: England (made)

Date: ca. 1540 (made)

Artist/Maker: Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques: Clear and coloured glass with painted and stained decoration.

Credit Line: Bought

Museum number: V&A museum C.453-1919

The badge of Prince Edward,

from John Leland's Genethliacon illustrissimi Eaduerdi principis Cambriae (1543)


Three feather badge and Garter

On a posthumous portrait of Henry Frederick (1610-1612)

By John Hind, ca 1635-’44. Royal Collection Trust Nr. RCIN 601460



Seal of George III, the badge of a prince of Wales above the hind of his horse


This item comes from: National Museums & Galleries of Wales (Item reference: 34.665/1). If you would like to see the original item, please contact the repository/contributor named above.




Albert Edward



Queen Victoria`s Prince of Wales Feathers brooch.

(Royal Collection)


B4. Queen Victoria`s Prince of Wales Feathers and Gold Coronet Brooch;

Prince Albert had this brooch made as a gift for Queen Victoria to celebrate the birth of Edward the Prince of Wales on 9th November 1841. It is designed as a crown with rubies & emeralds around the base, some round pearls on the top part of the crown, in the crosses & on the fleur de lys. Out of the crown are three gold feathers, enamelled in white & below the crown is a blue enamelled ribbon, with the Prince of Wales motto "Ich Dien". The all gold back of the brooch is engraved From ALBERT Feb 10 1842, the day Prince Albert gave her the brooch. The brooch now in the Royal Collection, was left by QV as an heirloom of the crown.

Badge:The three-feathers badge with crown and motto

Crown: A princely crown

Order: Of the Garter and Insignia of a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (1861)

The ostrich feather badge by a German artist


 A 2 new pence coin 1971-’81 continued 1982 as a 2 pence coin


The Arms and Badge of Wales


The Principality of Wales as created by Edward I (1272-1307) consisted of four parts: Carnarvon, Merioneth (together Gwynedd), Cardigan and Carmarthen. The other parts behind Offa’s Dyke however were ruled  for a long time by the so-called Marcher Lords: the Mortimers and the Bohuns in Powys, the Marshalls in Pembroke and the Clares in Dinafawr


Arms: Argent, three lions passant guardant coward in pale Gules


.... this coat appears [.....] in a French source, the roll of Vermandois Herald, of which the lost original is thought to date from c.1300: le prince de Gales porte d’argent a iij lions de gueules passans l’un sur l’autre a queue entortillee dedans l’une des jambes du lion de derriere.


Probably these arms, obviously derived from the arms of England, were designed for the new Prince of Wales. It was hardly documented in the 14th century untilthey appeared on the seal of Henry IV at the beginning of the 15th cventury. 




About the arms with the three lions coward Burke’s General Armory (London 1884) states:


Argent, three lions passant regardant coward in pale Gules. [...] with the lions passant, instead of passant regardant, this coat appears at a much earlier date in a French source, the roll of Vermandois Herald, of which the lost original is thought to date from c.1300: le prince de Gales porte d’argent a iij lions de gueules passans l’un sur l’autre a queue entortillee dedans l’une des jambes du lion de derriere. [17]

In the form with the lions regardant these arms enjoyed official use, appearing on the seal of the Principality of North Wales under Henry IV (1399-1413) and his successors. [18] also on the seals of Edward, Prince of Wales (1471-’83), on his sword of state [19], and on the seal of Arthur, Prince of Wales (1489-1502). They were attributed by John Glastonbury in his Chronica sive Historia de Rebus Glastoniensibus, written at the beginning of the fifteenth century, to the kings of Britain from Brutus on, until Arthur changed them after the miracles at Glastonbury: Arma quoque sua in eorum mutavit honorem. Nam quae prius erant argentea, cum tribus leonibus rubeis, capita ad terga vertentibus, a tempore adventus Bruti usque ad jam dictam mutacionem regis Arthuri... [20]

This coat appears in a number of heraldic rolls from the middle of the fifteenth century as being the arms either of Wales, or of the Prince of Wales. William Ballard, March King of Arms, in that part of his book devoted to South Wales and the March and written about 1480-90, shows a painted shield of these arms for the Prins of North Wallis [21]; and in Wrythe’s Book, c.1480, they appear under the name of the Prynce of Walys [22], and again, with a bendlet Gules over all [23]. However, these arms fell into disuse after the beginning of the seventeenth century. They remind one, especially in the form given in the Vermandois Roll, of the arms described above as having been attributed to Gruffudd ap Cynan, but I have found them in only one Welsh source, a long heraldic pedigree roll made in 1584 of the ancestry of John ap William ap Dafydd ap Llewelyn of Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, showing his relationship to Queen Elizabeth I, where they are given to Owen, King of South Wales and Powis, and Rhodri the Great. [24]) There is no evidence that these arms were ever borne by any Welsh princes, but compare the lions passant gardant coward on which Owain Glydwr placed his feet, on the obverse of his Great Seal described above. (Siddons pp. 295-296).



Hilt of the sword of State of Wales, front and back

Coll. British Museum SLAntique. 364


Though the blade of the above sword was made in Germany, its pommel and hilt are English. Its ornamentation indicates it was meant for the Prince of Wales: its engraved hilt shows the arms of England with the label of the oldest son of the King of England, supported by two angels above the arms of Wales and Cornwall; the opposite has the arms of the Earldoms of March and Chester. This double edged sword was thus not meant for battle, but would have been carried before the Prince during ceremonial processions, such as when he was invested with his title.” Two Princes also held the title of Earl of Chester in the late 15th century. Edward IV’s oldest son, also named Edward (V) and Richard III’s son Edward of Middleham. The above photographs are from the British Museum and some other very detailed photographs of this ceremonial sword are here.


Edward I presiding over parliament in ca.1278.

From the Wriotesly Garter Book, 1530 ca

For Llewelyn there are:


Arms: Argent three lions passant coward Gules.

Legend: lewellin princeps wallie.


Edward is flanked by Alexander III of Scotland and Llywelyn the Last of Wales, although they probably did not attend any of Edward's parliaments. The closed crown indicates that this is not a contemporary illustration. The arms with the lions coward are antedated here to the reign of Edward I.


For Queen Elizabeth I the arms were changed, falling back to the arms of Gryffyd and Dafydd ap Llewellyn being quarterly Or and Gules, four lions counter changed:


The Banner of Wales, carried at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth (1559)

From a contemporary drawing in the British .Museum


Banner: ¼ Gules and Or, four lions passant guardant counterchanged.

Legend: The Banner of Wales borne by ye viscount Bindon.


Dating from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)



The first example of a four-feeted dragon appeared as a supporter on the seal for the Principality of North Wales used by the English kings from Henry IV (1399-1413) until Henry VII (1485-1509). This represents::

"three lions passant guardant in pale their tails cowed, supported on either side by a four-footed Dragon sejant addorsed holding up an Ostrich Feather labelled." [25]


Dennys (1975) continues: Henry IV was crowned on 13 October 1399 and, as he was never Prince of Wales, his seal for North Wales must be of later date than this. (So probably after the defeat of  Owain Glendwr in 1410).

Royal badge of Wales, 19th century

The Augmented Royal Badge of Wales, authorized in 1953


Arms: Per fess Argent and Vert, a dragon passant Gules.

Crown: The crown of St. Edward.

Motto: y • ddraig • goch • ddry • cychwyn • (The Red Dragon Shall Conquer)





Government of Wales



In May 1997, a Labour government was elected with a promise of creating devolved institutions in Scotland and Wales. In late 1997 a referendum was held on the issue which resulted a "yes" vote. The Welsh Assembly was set up in 1999 (as a consequence of the Government of Wales Act 1998) and possesses the power to determine how the government budget for Wales is spent and administered.


The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the National Assembly for Wales and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act creates a system of government with a separate executive drawn from and accountable to the legislature. Following a successful referendum in 2011 on extending the law making powers of the National Assembly it is now able to make laws, known as Acts of the Assembly, on all matters in devolved subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament’s agreement


A new Royal Badge of Wales was presented by Peter Gwynne-Jones, Garter King of Arms and approved by the Queen on 23 May 2008. It is based on the arms borne by Llywelyn the Great, the famous thirteenth-century Welsh prince (blazoned quarterly Or and gules, four lions countercharged langued and armed azure), with the addition of the St. Edward's Crown atop a continuous scroll which, together with a wreath consisting of the plant emblems of the four countries of the United Kingdom, surrounds the shield. The motto which appears on the scroll, PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD (I am true to my country), is taken from the National Anthem of Wales and is also found on Welsh design £1 coins. The new badge appears on the cover of Assembly Measures passed by the National Assembly for Wales.

The current badge follows in a long line of heraldic devices representing Wales. Its predecessors have all been variations on either the Red Dragon, an ancient emblem revived by Henry VII, or the arms of Llywelyn.

The royal badge will appear on all Welsh laws.


Æ See illustration in the head of this article




Welsh Seal


Provision for a Welsh seal was made in Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 which also designated the First Minister of Wales as "Keeper of the Welsh Seal". The seal is used by the First Minister to seal (and so bring into force) letters patent signed by the monarch giving Royal Assent to bills passed by the National Assembly for Wales in order for those bills to become Acts of the Assembly.


Lord Sumption was appointed to the Privy Council (he will also sit in its Judicial Committee) at a meeting on 14th December 2011, when HMQ also handed over the new Welsh Seal to the First Minister of Wales so that he has something to seal new Acts of the National Assembly when Wales starts making its own primary legislation pursuant to Government of Wales Act 2006, a move which brings to an end the time honoured term - the law of England and Wales.



Welsh Government logo [26]


Police / Heddlu








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 © Hubert de Vries 2017-09.29.




[1] Burke, B.: The General Armory. London 1884

[2] https://archive.org/details/catalogueofseals02brit

[3] Ganz, P.: Geschichte der heraldischen Kunst in der Schweiz im 12. und 13. Jahrh. Frauenfeld 1899. P. 176

[4] https://books.google.nl/books/about/A_history_of_Shrewsbury_by_H_Owen_and_J.html?id=EvAHAAAAQAAJ&redir_esc=y

[5] Adam-Even, Paul & Léon Jéquier: Un Armorial français du XIIIe siècle, l'armorial Wijnbergen. In: Archives Heraldiques Suisses. 1951 pp. 49-62, pp. 101-110, 1952 pp. 28-36, 64-68, 103-111, 1953 pp. 55-77.

[6] Brault, Gerard J.: Eight Thirteenth-Century Rolls of Arms in French and Anglo-Norman Blazon. The Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park and London, 1973. 148 pp.

[7] Siddons, Michael Powell The Development of Welsh Heraldry. Aberystyth, 1991  p. 282

[8] Wagner, A.: Historic Heraldry of Britain. Oxford Univ. Press, 1939. London, 1972.n° 28

[9] Siddons op. cit. p 283 ff.

[10] Armorial de Gelre Ms. 15652-56. K.B. Brussel.

[11] Douët d'Arcq Sceaux de l'Empire n°s 10135-6. . (Siddons fig 92. Earlier represented in in Archæologia Vol. 25, p. 616, Photo on the frontispiece of Matthews, T.: Welsh Records in Paris, Camarthen, 1910 (Wagner, 45))

[12] https://archive.org/stream/chroniconadaedeu00adamuoft#page/70/mode/2up

[13] See note 8 supra

[14] Humphrey-Smith, Cecil R.: Feathers. In: Genealogica & Heraldica Copenhagen 1980 pp. 299-306.

[15] Petricioli, Ivo: St. Simeon’s Shrine in Zadar. Zagreb, 1983. P. 19,  Pl. 26. The man with the three ostrich feathers belonging to a group called ‘of nobles’.

[16] after Humphrey Smith, 1980 p. 301

[17] BN, Ms français 2249, ff. 14 et seq., ‘Armorial dit du Hérault Vermandois’. This is a fifteenth-century copy. See Michel Pastoureau, Traité d’Héraldique (Paris, 1979), p. 227, and note; also Ralph Griffin, ‘Some English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish arms in continental roll’s, Antiquaries’ Journal, vol. XXI (1941), pp. 209-10, esp. 205.

[18] BM Seals, N° 5559.

[19] BM Sloane Collection

[20] Thomas Hearne (ed.), Chronica sive Historia de rebus Glastoniensibus (Oxford, 1726), quoted by C. Lloyd-Morgan, ‘Dargan yr Olew Bendigaid: Chwedl o’r Bymthegfed Ganrif’, Llên Cymru, vol. 14 (1981-2) pp. 64-85, resp. 70.

[21] CA MS M 3, f. 15v. See CEMRA, p. 111.

[22] CA MS M 10, f. 128v. See CEMRA, p. 108.

[23] CA MS M 10, f. 23v, for ‘Wales’, but impaling ‘Elyot’, the coat being that of Eliot of Pembrokeshire. I am unable to explain this extraordinary entry.

[24]  UCNW, Penrhos MSS 170, f. 1. p. 1 bis.

[25] Gray Birch, Walter de: Catalogue of Seals in the British Museum vol. ii n°  5559. (Dennys p. 191). Voor een schema van de tekening Hefner taf. 36.

[26] http://gov.wales/docs/caecd/contact/WGlogoguideeng.pdf


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