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The badge of the Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales's feathers is the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales. It consists of three white feathers emerging from a gold coronet. A ribbon below the coronet bears the motto Ich dien (German for "I serve", a contraction of ich diene = ich dien' ). As well as being used in royal heraldry, the badge is sometimes used to symbolise Wales, particularly in Welsh rugby union and Welsh rugby league; however, its use as such is controversial and rejected by some Welsh nationalists as a symbol of the British monarchy rather than Wales.

A painted carving on the main gate of Oriel College, Oxford depicting the emblem of the Prince of Wales

The badge has no connection with the native Princes of Wales. It is thought to have originated with Edward, the Black Prince, the eldest son of Edward III of England. According to legend, the Black Prince obtained the arms from the blind John I of Bohemia, against whom he fought in the Battle of Crécy in 1346. After the battle, the prince went to the body of the dead king (whom he admired for his bravery) and took his helmet, lined with ostrich feathers. The feathers and the dead king's motto made up the prince's new badge and came to be used by subsequent Princes of Wales. A key factor in the English army's defeat of the French was the use of Welsh archers, it may have been Edward's pride in the men of Wales which led him to use a symbol of their victory as his emblem. The motto in German is "Ich Dien" which is a near-homophone for the Welsh language phrase "Eich Dyn" meaning "Your Man", which would have helped enamour the young Black Prince to the Welsh soldiers in particular.

The origin of both the feathers and the motto may have a less romantic history, with indications that the arms were inherited by the prince from his father. Another theory is that the ostrich feather badge was inherited from his mother Philippa of Hainault, who was descended from the Counts of Hainault, whose eldest son had the title "Count of Ostrehans", and the ostrich (French autruche) feathers were a heraldic pun on that name.[1]

The badge has traditionally been worn on the jerseys of players in the Welsh rugby union team and as the logo of the Welsh Rugby Union. In the 1990s, the WRU modified the form of the badge they used in order to copyright the design. The new logo is more stylised, with "WRU" in place of "Ich Dien". The Welsh Rugby League has stuck to the traditional three feathers with "Cymru RL" written underneath. Surrey County Cricket Club have permission to use the feathers for their emblems; their home ground, The Oval, is on land owned by the Prince of Wales.

This ensign is also used by a society in Malta called 'The Prince of Wales Philarmonic Society'. The scope of this organisation is mainly one related to music but is also linked to the feast of St.Dominic in Vittoriosa in Malta. Malta was a colony of the British Crown for 200 years, and there exist a variety of clubs and organisations bearing the name of royal personalities.

The badge was until 1985 on the coat of arms of Penang, a state in present-day Malaysia, which was originally founded in 1786 as the settlement of Prince of Wales Island.

The Prince of Wales' Own displays the ensign with three feathers on a royal blue background and carries the standard during all of its activities as well as a flag on top of its premises. It has been doing so for the last 100 years.

The badge is also the cap badge of the The Royal Welsh, an amalgamation of three Welsh regiments, The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, The Royal Regiment Of Wales and the Territorial Army's Royal Welsh Regiment. Previously the badge was the cap badge of the Prince of Wales's Own Civil Service Rifles, whose motto was also Ich Dien. The badge is also displayed on the regimental badges of many other regiments of the British and Commonwealth Armies which have a historical connection with the Prince of Wales:

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/3631799/Letters-to-The-Daily-Telegraph.html (6th letter)

External links

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