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Regalia is Latin plurale tantum for the privileges and the insignia characteristic of a Sovereign.

The word stems from the Latin substantivation of the adjective regalis, 'regal', itself from Rex, 'king'.

of Bavaria, Schatzkammer, Munich]]


Regalia in the Abstract

The term can refer to rights, prerogatives and privileges enjoyed exclusively by any sovereign regardless of title (Emperor, Grand Duke, etc.) An example is the right to mint coins, especially with one's own effigy. In many cases, especially in feudal societies and generally weak states, such rights have in time been eroded by grants to or usurpations by lesser vassals.

Regalia as Sovereign Insignia

Some emblems, symbols, or paraphernalia possessed by rulers are a visual representation of Imperial, royal or sovereign status. Some are shared with divinities, either to symbolize a god(ess)'s role as, say, king of the Pantheon (e.g. Brahman's sceptre) or to allow mortal royalty to resemble, identify with, or link to a Divinity.

The term Crown Jewels is commonly used for regalia items designed to lend luster to occasions such as coronations. They feature some combination of precious materials, artistic merit, and symbolic or historical value. Crown jewels may have been designated at the start of a dynasty, accumulated through many years of tradition, or sent as tangible recognition of legitimacy by some leader such as the Pope to an emperor or caliph.

Each culture, even each monarchy and/or dynasty within one culture, may have its own historical traditions, and some even have a specific name for its regalia, or at least for an important subset, such as :

But some elements occur in many traditions.



Other Regal Dress and Jewelry

  • Armillae - Bracelets
  • (Ermine) Coronation Mantle
  • Barmi (Russian word), a detachable silk collar with medallions of precious material sewn to it, as used in Moscovy
  • Rings, symbolizing the Monarch's 'marriage' to the state (in the case of the Doge of the Republic of Venice, to its lifeblood, the sea); or as a Signet-Ring, a practical attribute of his power to command legally

Manipulable Symbols of Power


Other Manipulable Symbols

Regalia can also stand for other attributes or virtues, i.e. what is expected from the holder.

Thus the Imperial Regalia of Japan (Jp: 三種の神器; "Sanshu no Jingi", or "Three Sacred Treasures"), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan as follows.

Since 690, the presentation of these items to the Emperor by the priests at the shrine are a central part of the imperial enthronement ceremony. As this ceremony is not public, the regalia are by tradition only seen by the Emperor and certain priests, and no known photographs or drawings exist..

Coronation Paraphernalia

Some regalia objects are presented and/or used in the formal ceremonial of enthronement/coronation. They can be associated with an office or court sinecure (cfr. Archoffices) that enjoys the privilege to carry, present/or at use it at the august occasion, and sometimes on other formal occasions, such as a royal funeral.

Such objects, with or without intrinsic symbolism, can include

  • Anointing Utensils:
    • Sacred ampulla containing the ointment
    • Spoon for the same ointment
    • Alternatively, the Norwegian Monarchy has an anointment horn
  • A bible used for swearing in the Monarch as the new Sovereign.

Companions' Attributes

Apart from the Sovereign himself, attributes (especially a crown) can be used for close relatives who are allowed to share in the pomp. For example, in Norway the Queen-consort and the crown prince are the only other members of the Royal Family to be crowned and share in the Sovereign's royal symbolism.

Reserved Colour

In the Roman Empire the colour Tyrian purple, produced with an extremely expensive Mediterranean mollusk extract, was in principle reserved for the Imperial Court. The use of this dye was extended to various dignitaries, such as members of the Roman senate who wore stripes of Tyrian purple on their white togas, for whom the term purpuratus was coined as a high aulic distinction.

In late Imperial China, the colour yellow was reserved for the emperor, as it had a multitude of meanings. Yellow was a symbol of gold, and thus wealth and power, and since it was also the colour that symbolized the center in Chinese cosmology (the five elements, or wu xing(五行)), it was the perfect way to refer to the emperor, who was always in the middle of the universe. Consequently, peasants and noblemen alike were forbidden to wear robes made entirely out of yellow, although they were allowed to use the colour sparingly.

Additional Display

See also

For other meanings, such as the generalization of the term to all decorations or insignia indicative of a lower office (such as a Chain of Office) or of membership in an order or society;

Other uses

By analogy, the term Regalia is also applied, technically improperly, to formal insignia in other contexts, such as academic regalia.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Latin regalia, neuter plural of regalis (of a king), from rex



regalia (plural only; not used in singular form)

  1. royal rights, prerogatives and privileges - actually enjoyed by any sovereign, regardless of his title (emperor, grand duke etcetera)
  2. the emblems, symbols, or paraphernalia indicative of royalty or any other sovereign status; such as a crown, orb, sceptre, sword of justice
  3. decorations or insignia indicative of an office or membership of an order or society; such as freemasonry
  4. finery or magnificent dress


  • Finnish: regaalit (2,3), arvonmerkit (2,3)

Related terms

See also




regalia f. (plural regalie)

  1. tip, gratuity
  2. regalia

Related terms



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