Crown (heraldry)

A crown is often an emblem of a sovereign state, usually a monarchy (see The Crown), but also used by some republics.

The coat of arms of Norway, with the royal crown displayed atop the escutcheon

A specific type of crown is employed in heraldry under strict rules. Indeed, some monarchies never had a physical crown, just a heraldic representation, as in the constitutional kingdom of Belgium.

Crowns are also often used as symbols of religious status or veneration, by divinities (or their representation such as a statue) or by their representatives, e.g. the Black Crown of the Karmapa Lama, sometimes used a model for wider use by devotees.

A crown can be a charge in a coat of arms, or set atop the shield to signify the status of its owner, as with the coat of arms of Norway.

Physical and heraldic crowns

Sometimes, the crown commonly depicted and used in heraldry differs significantly from any specific physical crown that may be used by a monarchy.

As a display of rank

If the bearer of a coat of arms has the title of baron or higher (or hereditary knight in some countries), he or she may display a coronet of rank above the shield, usually below the helm in British heraldry, and often above the crest (if any) in Continental heraldry.

In this case, the appearance of the crown or coronet follows a strict set of rules. A royal coat of arms may display a royal crown, such as that of Norway. A princely coat of arms may display a princely crown, and so on.

A mural crown is commonly displayed on coats of arms of towns and some republics. Other republics may use a so-called people's crown or omit the use of a crown altogether. The heraldic forms of crowns are often inspired by the physical appearance of the respective country's actual royal or princely crowns.

Ships and other units of some navies have a naval crown, composed of the sails and sterns of ships, above the shield of their coats of arms. Squadrons of some air forces have an astral crown, composed of wings and stars. There is also the Eastern crown, made up of spikes, and when each spike is topped with a star, it becomes a celestial crown.[1]

Whereas most county councils in England use mural crowns, there is a special type of crown that was used by Scottish county councils. It was composed of spikes, was normally shown vert (green) and had golden wheat sheaves between the spikes.[2] Today, most of the Scottish unitary authorities still use this "wheat sheaf crown", but it is now the usual gold.

Commonwealth usage

The coat of arms of the Barons Hawke displays a baronial coronet

In formal English, the word crown is reserved for the crown of a monarch and the Queen consort, whereas the word coronet is used for all other crowns used by members of the British royal family and peers of the realm.

In the British peerage, the design of a coronet shows the rank of its owner, as in German, French and various other heraldic traditions. The coronet of a duke has eight strawberry leaves, that of a marquess has four strawberry leaves and four silver balls (known as "pearls", but not actually pearls), that of an earl has eight strawberry leaves and eight "pearls" raised on stalks, that of a viscount has sixteen "pearls", and that of a peerage baron or (in Scotland) lord of parliament has six "pearls". Between the 1930s and 2004, feudal barons in the baronage of Scotland were granted a chapeau or cap of maintenance as a rank insignia. This is placed between the shield and helmet in the same manner as a peer's coronet. Since a person entitled to heraldic headgear customarily displays it above the shield and below the helm and crest, this can provide a useful clue as to the owner of a given coat of arms.

Members of the British royal family have coronets on their coats of arms, and they may wear physical versions at coronations. They are according to regulations made by King Charles II in 1661, shortly after his return from exile in France (getting a taste for its lavish court style; Louis XIV started monumental work at Versailles that year) and Restoration, and they vary depending upon the holder's relationship to the monarch. Occasionally, additional royal warrants vary the designs for individuals.

In Canadian heraldry, special coronets are used to designate descent from United Empire Loyalists. A military coronet signifies ancestors who served in Loyalist regiments during the American Revolution, while a civil coronet is used by all others. The loyalist coronets are used only in heraldry, never worn.


Continental usages

Precisely because there are many traditions and more variation within some of these, there are a plethora of continental coronet types. Indeed, there are also some coronets for positions that do not exist, or do not entitle use of a coronet, in the Commonwealth tradition.

Such a case in French heraldry of the Ancien Régime, where coronets of rank did not come into use before the 16th century, is the vidame, whose coronet (illustrated) is a metal circle mounted with three visible crosses. (No physical headgear of this type is known.)

Helmets are often substitutes for coronets, and some coronets are worn only on a helmet.




Tsar Tsaritsa Prince Older Princesses Younger Princesses


Capital Department Capital[lower-alpha 2] Commune[lower-alpha 2]

Ancien Régime

King Heir to the throne (Dauphin) Children and grandchildren of the sovereign
(Fils de France)
Prince of the Blood
Duke and Peer of France Duke Marquis and Peer of France Marquis
Count and Peer of France Count Count (older) Viscount
Vidame Baron Knight's crown Knight's tortillon

Napoleonic Empire

(1st Empire)
(2nd Empire)
Prince Duke
Count Baron Knight

July Monarchy

King of the


Georgian Royal Crown, also known as the "Iberian Crown"

Holy Roman Empire

Older Imperial Crown Newer Imperial Crown Oldest Crown of the King of the Romans Older Crown of the King of the Romans
Newer Crown of the King of the Romans Crown of the King of Bohemia Archducal hat Ducal hat of Styria
Oldest Electoral hat Older Electoral hat New Electoral hat & new Ducal hat Ducal crown
Crown of an heir to a duchy Princely hat Princely crown Crown of a Landgrave
Older crown of a Count Newer crown of a Count Older crown of a Baron/Freiherr Newer crown of a Baron/Freiherr
Older Crown of Nobility Newer Crown of Nobility


Prince of Liechtenstein


Mural crown of the coat of arms of Austria Mural crown of the State of Lower Austria

Austrian Empire

Crown of the Emperor of Austria Crown of the King of Bohemia Archducal hat Archducal crown
Ducal hat of Styria Ducal hat Ducal crown Princely hat
Princely crown Crown of a Count Crown of a Baron/Freiherr Crown of Nobility


Volkskrone (People's Crown) Mural crown of the arms of the Berlin boroughs

German Empire

Crown of the German Emperor Crown of the German Empress Crown of the German Crown Prince
Crown of the King of Prussia Crown of the King of Bavaria Crown of the King of Württemberg


Crown of the King of the Hellenes The Crown as it appears on the Royal Coat of Arms of Greece


Holy Crown of Hungary


Crown of Zvonimir


Province City Municipality

Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946)

King (crown of Savoy) Heir to the throne (Prince of Piedmont) Royal prince[lower-alpha 3] Prince of the blood
Duke Marquess Count Viscount
Baron Noble Hereditary Knight Patrician
Province City Municipality

Kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, Two Sicilies

King of Naples Heir to the throne (Duke of Calabria) Prince and princess

Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany Habsburg-Lorraine Grand Dukes of Tuscany

Other Italian states before 1861

Crown of San Marino Crown of Napoleonic Italy Iron Crown of Lombardy Papal Tiara Doge of Venice Doge of Genoa Duke of Parma


Holy Roman Emperor
King Prince
(Members of the Royal House,
children of the Monarch)
(Members of the Royal House,
grandchildren of the Monarch)
(nobility, for titles granted after 1815)
Duke Marquess Count Count
(alternative style)
Viscount Baron Hereditary Knight


The older crowns are often still seen in the heraldry of older families.

King Prince of the Royal house Prince
(nobility, for titles granted after 1815)
(nobility, for titles granted during the Ancien Régime)
Duke Marquess Count Count (older)
Count (oldest) Viscount Baron Baron (older)
Hereditary Knight


Grand Duke



Poland and Lithuania

King Grand Duke Prince Nobleman


Capital city (Lisbon) City Town Civil Parish
Overseas province

Kingdom of Portugal (until 1910)

King Heir to the throne (Prince Royal) Prince of Beira Infante Duke
Marquess Count Viscount Baron Knight / Fidalgo


Capital of State of the Federation[lower-alpha 2] City[lower-alpha 2] Town[lower-alpha 2] Village[lower-alpha 2]

Empire of Brazil

Emperor Heir to the throne (Prince Imperial) Prince of Grão-Pará Prince Duke
Marquess Count Viscount Baron


Capital City Town Village

Kingdom of Romania

King (The Steel Crown of Romania)


Emperor Crown of the Grand Duchy of Finland Monomakh's Cap Prince
Count Baron Baron (alternative style) Crown of Nobility


King Crown Prince Prince (royal family) Duke
Marquess Count Baron Crown of Nobility


During the Swedish reign, Swedish coronets were used. Crowns were used in the coats of arms of the historical provinces of Finland. For Finland Proper, Satakunta, Tavastia and Karelia, it was a ducal coronet, for others, a comital coronet. In 1917 with independence, the coat of arms of Finland was introduced with a grand ducal crown, but it was soon removed, in 1920. Today, some cities use coronets, e.g. Pori has a mural crown and Vaasa a Crown of Nobility.

Generic grand ducal crown

used in late 19th to early 20th c.

Grand ducal crown used in

the state coat of arms in 1917-1920.

Ducal coronet

Comital coronet

Mural crown


Heraldic crown of the King

Physical crown of the King

Physical crown of the Queen
Crown Prince Prince or Princess Duke Marquess
Count Baron Crown of Nobility


King/Queen Crown Prince/Crown Princess Prince/Princess (aka Duke/Duchess)
Count/Countess Baron/Baroness Untitled Nobility


King (medieval) King (after 1903)


King (National arms design) King (Monarch's arms design) King (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia) Heir to the throne (Prince of Asturias)
Heir to the throne (Prince of Girona) (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia) Infante Infante (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia) Grandee of Spain
Duke Marquess Count Viscount
Baron Señor/Don (Lord) Hidalgo (Nobleman) Knight's burelete


Emperor (1st Empire)
Emperor (2nd Empire)
Prince (1st Empire and 2nd Empire)


Municipal Mural Crown
Royal Crown of Easter Island

Non-European usages




'Raven Crown' of the Kingdom of Bhutan


Crown of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Central African Empire




Egypt before 1953

Khedive (-1914) and Sultan (1914-22)
King (1922-53)


Crown of Jordan


Heraldic Crown of Morocco


Crown of Oman

Siam and Thailand

Great Crown of Victory of the Kings of Siam and Thailand
Phra Kiao (princely coronet, also the emblem of King Chulalongkorn)


Crown of Tonga

Other examples

Imperial Crown of Ethiopia Royal Crown of Tahiti Royal Crown of Hawaii
Crown of the Shah of Persia Crown of the Shah of Iran
Twig crown of the
Republic of the Congo


Ecclesiastical Hats

Anglican Communion

Catholic Church

Eastern Orthodox Church


Astral crown Camp crown Celestial crown Eastern crown
Mural crown Naval crown

As a charge

In heraldry, a charge is an image occupying the field of a coat of arms. Many coats of arms incorporate crowns as charges. One notable example of this lies in the Three Crowns of the arms of Sweden.

Additionally, many animal charges (frequently lions and eagles) and sometimes human heads also appear crowned. Animal charges gorged (collared) of an open coronet also occur, though more often as supporters than as charges.

See also


  1. Currently, besides the grandchildren of the present King Charles III, the living grandchildren of a former sovereign are granted the privilege to use the crown of a Sovereign's Grandchild.
  2. This standard has many exceptions.
  3. The dukes of Genoa were granted the privilege to use the crown of a royal prince though they were only princes of the blood


  1. Mackinnon of Dunakin, Charles (1968). The Observer's Book of Heraldry. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. p. 73.
  2. Moncreiffe, Iain; Pottinger, Don (1953). Simple Heraldry Cheerfully Illustrated. Thomas Nelson and Sons. p. 58.
  3. Cox, Noel The Coronets of Members of the Royal Family and of the Peerage. Archived 2018-01-04 at the Wayback Machine Originally published in (1999) 22 The Double Tressure, the Journal of The Heraldry Society of Scotland 8-13. Acceded 8 April 2017
  4. Boutell, Charles (1914). Fox-Davies, A.C. (ed.). Handbook to English Heraldry, The (11th ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. pp. 104–156.
  5. Ströhl, Hugo Gerard (1899). Heraldischer Atlas. Stuttgart.
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