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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
Motto and Royal Coat of Arms

The Official Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

On the left, the shield is supported by the English Lion.
Royal coat of arms
On the right it is supported by the Unicorn of Scotland.
(The unicorn is chained because in mediaeval times a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast (only a virgin could tame a unicorn)

The coat features both the motto of British Monarchs:

Dieu et mon droit
(God and my right)

and the motto of the Order of the Garter:

Honi soit qui mal y pense
('Evil to him who evil thinks')

on a representation of the Garter behind the shield.

Royal Coat of Arms

Image: Royal Coat of Arms
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom

The Royal Arms we see today have evolved over nine centuries, since Richard the Lionheart chose three lions to represent England. This symbol on the King's shield would immediately identify him in the midst of battle.

The full version of the Royal Coat of Arms is now used only by the Queen in her capacity as the Sovereign. In the version used by the government and consequently as the official coat of arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the crown is shown resting directly on the shield, with the helm, crest and mantling not displayed (like in the black and white photo above).

The Queen has a separate version of her arms for use in Scotland, giving the Scottish elements pride of place.

Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom as used in Scotland


The main element of the Arms is the shield which is divided into four quarters.

Shield of the UK Royal Arms

ShieildThe first and fourth quadrants represent England and contain three gold lions passant (in plain English, three gold lions with their right forepaws raised and their heads facing the viewer) on a red field; the second quadrant represents Scotland contains a redlion rampant on a gold field; the third quadrant represents Ireland and contains the gold harp of Ireland on a blue field.

Why is Wales not represented on the shield and Coat of Arms?

Wales was recognised as a Principality by the creation of the Prince of Wales long before the incorporation of the quarterings for Scotland and Ireland in the Royal Arms. The arms of the Prince of Wales show the arms of the ancient Principality in the centre as well as these quarterings.

Find out about the Royal Standard

The Three Lions Crest - A symbol of England
Richard the Lionheart (1189 - 1199) used the three golden lions (sometimes described as leopards) on their scarlet background as a powerful symbol of the English Throne during the time of the Crusades.

What is the motto of England?

The motto of England and the Sovereign is

" Dieu et mon Droit "
(French for ‘God and my right’).

The motto was first used by King Richard I in 1198 and adopted as the royal motto of England in the time of Henry VI.

The motto appears below the shield of the Royal Coat of Arms.

What is the motto of Scotland?

The motto of Scotland is

In My Defens God Me Defend

What is the motto of Wales?

The motto of Wales is

Cymru am byth
(English "Wales forever")

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2014

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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