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The Royal Badge of Wales
Royal Badge of Wales new.svg
Armiger Elizabeth II
Adopted 2008
Escutcheon Quarterly Or and Gules, four Lions passant guardant counterchanged armed and langued Azure
Motto Welsh: Pleidiol Wyf I'm Gwlad
Other elements Ensigned with a representation of the imperial crown Proper. A wreath consisting of the plant emblems of the four countries of the United Kingdom.
Use On all Assembly Measures

A new Royal Badge of Wales was approved in 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 counterchanged 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. [1] 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.[2]

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.




Coat of arms of Llywelyn the Great

Coat of arms of Llywelyn

Before the English conquest, Wales was ruled by a number of Kings and Princes, whose dominions shifted and sometimes merged following the vagaries of war, marriage and inheritance. All these Kings and Princes were ascribed personal coats of arms, often retrospectively if they lived before the dawn of heraldry, and these were borne by their descendants in Wales. The two principal Welsh kingdoms were those of Gwynedd, in the north, and Deheubarth in the south. Of these, the most successful, and the last, finally, to fall, was that of Gwynedd, and the arms now borne by the English Princes of Wales as an inescutcheon are the historic arms of the dynasty of Gwynedd as borne by the last native Princes of Wales, including Llywelyn the Great and Llywelyn the Last. These arms have the blazon Quarterly Or and Gules, four lions passant guardant counterchanged, armed and langued Azur.

Red Dragon badge

1953 version of the Red Dragon badge

A Royal heraldic badge for Wales has been used since the reign of Henry VII, which is: On a mount Vert a dragon passant with wings elevated Gules[3]. In 1953 the badge was given an augmentation of honour. There is a further badge for Wales, belonging to the Princes of Wales since 1901, of the red dragon on a mount but with a label of three points Argent about the shoulder to difference it from the monarch's badge.[4] (A similar label of three points is used in his arms, crest and supporters for the same reason.)

Use of the arms of Llywelyn for Wales

Coat of Arms of the Prince of Wales since 1911.
Banner of the Prince of Wales for use in Wales (introduced in 1960).

When in 1911 the future King Edward VIII was made Prince of Wales, a warrant exemplifying his arms was issued. Along with the usual royal arms differenced by a "label" of three points, his main arms included an "inescutcheon surtout" crowned with the heir apparent's coronet and containing the arms of Llywelyn of Gwynedd to represent the principality of Wales.[5]

It is unclear whether, before this date, they were thought of as the "arms of Wales" or simply as the "arms of Llywelyn". But they had certainly not previously been used by heirs to the English or British thrones; indeed, in his 1909 book A Complete Guide to Heraldry, Arthur Charles Fox-Davies had written: "It is much to be regretted that the arms of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales do not include...any allusion to his dignities of Prince of Wales or Earl of Chester." The only allusion, before this innovation, to Wales in the Royal arms had been the inclusion, among many other badges, of on a mount vert a dragon rouge — the royal badge on which the present Flag of Wales is based.

In the 1960s, the Prince of Wales decided to use a banner of the Principality's arms, defaced with an inescutcheon of his heraldic coronet, when performing royal duties in Wales.

In 2007 the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales entered into discussions with the Prince of Wales and the College of Arms regarding a grant of arms for official use by the assembly.[6] A new Royal Badge designed by the Garter King of Arms, Peter Gwynne-Jones was granted in 2008 based on the Llywelyn arms.[7]

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