Her Majesty and the Royal Family have a number of different symbols, flags and colours which fly at different occasions and events throughout the Royal Calendar. Here you will find a short overview of these symbols and what they mean.
- Royal Cypher
- Royal Standard
- Royal Coat of Arms
- Personal Flag of Her Majesty
- Signature of Her Majesty
Each modern monarch from the British Royal Family (and indeed other Royal Families throughout history and the world today) has a Royal Cypher to identify themselves and stamp an identity on their reign. These small initials are often seen all over the monarch’s country in place of the sovereign’s full name and title.
In the case of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II the Royal Cypher consists of and E for Elizabeth, II to indicate that she is the second sovereign of her name and an R for Regina, which is the feminine Latin word for queen. Rex would be used in place of Regina for a male sovereign.
When the British Royal Family ruled India the letter I was also added in place of the Latin word Imperator or Imperatrix for a male or female emperor respectively
The Royal Standard is a flag (which is actually a banner of arms) used by the reigning
monarch mostly today as a flag to depict their presence. When The Queen is in residence at one of her palaces such as Buckingham Palace or Balmoral Castle, the Royal Standard will be flown. If she is not in residence at that household, at that time, the flag cannot be flown.
An interesting bit of information: the only church able to fly the Royal Standard when The Queen is not present is Westminster Abbey.
The Royal Standard is also used when The Queen or a member of the Royal Family is travelling by the (now decommissioned) Royal Yacht Britannia or by motorcade.
Not all members of the Royal Family use the same Royal Standard and the standard also varies between country and Commonwealth Realm. However, within the United Kingdom, these changes are very slight. For for example when the Royal Family visits Scotland the Royal Standard only changes through the swapping of two of the panels.
The Royal Family’s Royal Coat of Arms is one of the most widely recognised symbols of
the monarchy both within the United Kingdom and around the world.
Today’s version of the Royal Coat of Arms was adopted in 1837 and has been in use ever since. On the coat of arms one sees a lion, unicorn, Tudor Rose, thistle and shamrock and the motto “Dieu et mon driot” which from French translates to “God and my right”.
These arms are used widely throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth to depict Her Majesty and the Royal Family and are known officially as the Arms of Domination.
The formal description of the coat of arms is as follows:
Quarterly, first and fourth Gules three lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure (for England), second quarter Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland), third quarter Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland), the whole surrounded by the Garter; for a Crest, upon the Royal helm the imperial crown Proper, thereon a lion statant gardant Or imperially crowned Proper; Mantling Or and ermine; for Supporters, dexter a lion rampant gardant Or crowned as the Crest, sinister a unicorn Argent armed, crined and unguled Proper, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lis a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or. Motto ‘Dieu et mon Droit’ in the compartment below the shield, with the Union rose, shamrock and thistle engrafted on the same stem.
When The Queen visits countries which are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations but NOT a Commonwealth Realm which recognises The Queen as it’s Head of State she uses her personal flag which was created in 1960 and first used in 1961.
This flag was created in a way that it is able to represent The Queen as an individual not associated with any Commonwealth Realm. However, some Commonwealth Realms now use the flag within their Royal Standards. Two of such countries are Australia and New Zealand.
Like most people, The Queen has a signature however unlike most people, The Queen’s signature is required before laws can be passed and before a large number of Royal Functions can be carried out.
Her Majesty’s signature is made up of her first name, Elizabeth, followed by the letter R to once again symbolise the Latin word for queen