First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the bride's royal crest? Fresh off Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's May 19th nuptials, the newly anointed Duchess of Sussex received the ultimate wedding gift: her own Coat of Arms. And while the move only further cements her role in the royal family, Harry's new Mrs. is hardly the first to score the exclusive shield design. In fact, the longstanding symbol is created for each member of the monarchy, signifying their sovereign power, and appearing on coins and in churches. I know, very The Crown. But just like Markle's untraditional foray into royalty, her crest is unlike all the royal coat of arms before hers - from her new hubby's to the in-laws'.
According to People, unlike Markle, the unveiling of Kate Middleton's Coat of Arms in 2011 came a week prior to her wedding and was actually gifted to her father. A customary move for the College of Arms. In fact, its symbolism revolves almost entirely around the Middleton clan. The design features three acorns to represent the Duchess of Cambridge and her siblings, Pippa and James Middleton. The gold at its center is a nod to the family matriarch, Carole.
After much speculation and quite a bit of familial drama, Meghan's Coat of Arms was fashioned for her and her alone. According to the Kensington Palace's official website, not only was the Duchess heavily involved in her "personal and representative" crest, but it also earned the stamp of approval from Queen Elizabeth herself. Casual, I know.
While Markle's family was excluded from Meghan's Coat of Arms, her roots still played a major role in the design. Like Middleton, whose acorns signified her sibling bond and her hometown of Bucklebury, Berkshire, Markle's ties to the golden state are represented in color and graphics. *Cue California Gurls.*
Kensington Palace broke it down in their announcement:
The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of The Duchess's home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words. Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California's state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace.It is customary for Supporters of the shield to be assigned to Members of the Royal Family, and for wives of Members of the Royal Family to have one of their husband’s Supporters and one relating to themselves. The Supporter relating to The Duchess of Sussex is a songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak, which with the quill represents the power of communication.
With Markle's official Duchess of Sussex profile proudly proclaiming her identity as a feminist, her untraditional and individualized Coat of Arms speaks volumes. Girl values her independence. Just another reason she's the princess we needed.
For those born into the royal line (oh, to be so lucky), the Coat of Arms works a bit differently. Prince Harry and Prince William were gifted theirs when they turned 18. Quite the birthday present. In June 2000, the Duke of Cambridge received his crest. According to the College of Arms, his differed from little bro, Harry, due to the line of succession:
Prince William of Wales, as second in line to the throne, uses a white label of three points like his father, but has in addition a small red 'escallop' or sea-shell on the central point. Prince Henry of Wales (or, as he is usually known, Prince Harry) uses, like all grandchildren of the monarch except his elder brother, a five-pointed label.
Here is Prince William's crest.
Here is Prince Harry's crest.
Both crests include one major sentimental detail: the red escallop, which honors their beloved mother, the late Princess Diana. According to the College of Arms, the feature speaks to more than just their ties to Di. The escallop is borrowed straight from the Spencer Coat of Arms.
Meanwhile, their dad's crest, aka the next King of England (no big deal), is very much tied to Britain's history. Makes sense given the part he will inevitably play in it. According to Prince Charles official website, the main shield used in his design is from the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom and has been around since Queen Victoria. Because he's the next heir to the throne, the shield is marked with a white label. The lion and unicorn, his "royal supporters," also bear the same white lines to once again remind us (as if we could forget) that he's the eldest of the sovereign.
Mom, granny, and all around boss lady Queen Elizabeth II has the official Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom to herself. Score.
At the heart of her crest, the shield is split in fours. The first and fourth hold the lions of England, the second repping the lion of Scotland and the third the harp of Ireland. Long live the Queen (and Meghan, and Harry, and so on).