Royal coat of arms of Great Britain

The Royal coat of arms of Great Britain was the coat of arms representing royal authority in the sovereign state of the Kingdom of Great Britain, in existence from 1707 to 1801. The kingdom came into being on 1 May 1707, with the political union of the kingdom of Scotland and the kingdom of England, which included Wales. With the 1706 Treaty of Union (ratified by the Acts of Union 1707), it was agreed to create a single kingdom, encompassing the whole of the island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, but not Ireland, which remained a separate realm under the newly created British crown.

The Royal Arms of Great Britain from 1714 to 1800, with crest, supporters and motto. The version used in Scotland is shown on the right.

On 1 January 1801, the royal arms of Great Britain were superseded by the royal arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, when Great Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland by the Acts of Union of 1800 following the suppression of the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Union of the Crowns and the Commonwealth

The Union of the Crowns places the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Ireland and Kingdom of Scotland under one monarch
Arms Dates Details
1603–1649*In 1603, James VI, King of Scots, inherited the English and Irish thrones and, ruling those kingdoms as King James I, quartered the Royal Arms of Scotland with those of England. For the first time, the Royal Coat of Arms of Ireland were included.[1]

James VI & I continued to use a separate Scottish version of arms, which were differenced from those used elsewhere in that the Scottish elements took precedence. (A convention continued by all subsequent British monarchs).

*Use of the Scottish version, together with the monarchy under Charles II, continued in Scotland during the period 1649-1651.


These novel arms, already in use by parliamentarians in 1648, were adopted by the Commonwealth of England established in 1649.[2]


The Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (the Protectorate) was created in 1653. St Andrew's Cross was added to the arms in 1654.[3]

1655–1659The arms of the Commonwealth from 1655 to 1659. Struck in 1655, the Great Seal included the personal arms Oliver Cromwell on a shield in the centre.[1]

Blazon: Quarterly 1 and 4 Argent a Cross Gules (England) 2 Azure a Saltire Argent (Scotland) and 3 Azure a Harp Or Stringed Argent (Ireland) on an Inescutcheon Sable a Lion Rampant Argent (Cromwell's arms). The supporters were a crowned lion of England and a red dragon of Wales. The Scottish unicorn was removed, as it was associated with the Stuart Monarchy. The motto read PAX QUÆRITUR BELLO ("peace is obtained through war").[4]


Following the Protectorate, the 1654 arms were restored.

1660–1689Charles II restored the Royal Arms following the restoration after the civil wars.
1689–1694King James II & VII, younger brother of Charles II, was subsequently deposed in favour of his daughter Mary and her husband, William, Prince of Orange, ruling jointly as William III & II and Mary II. As King and Queen Regnant they impaled their arms: William bore the Royal Arms with an escutcheon of Nassau (the royal house to which William belonged) added (a golden lion rampant on a blue field), while Mary bore the Royal Arms undifferenced.[5][6]
1694–1702After the death of Mary II, William III & II reigned alone, and used his arms only.[1][5]
1702–1707 Anne, daughter of James II & VII and younger sister of Mary II, succeeds William III & II upon his death in 1702, and the Royal Arms are returned to the 1603 version.[1]

After the Acts of Union 1707

The twin Acts of Union, 1707, result in the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland uniting to form the Kingdom of Great Britain
Arms Dates Details
1707–1714When the Acts of Union 1707 created the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800), the Royal Arms of England and Scotland were impaled and moved to the first and fourth quarters, with the royal arms of France in the second quarter and the harp of Ireland in the third.[7]
1714–1800Following the death of Queen Anne, George I, previously Elector of Hanover inherited the throne under the provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701, and as a result the fourth quarter of the arms was changed to represent the new king's ancestry in Hanover: BrunswickLüneburgWestphalia, surmounted by the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire for the Holy Roman office of Archtreasurer.[7]


  1. Brooke-Little, J.P., FSA (1978) [1950]. Boutell's Heraldry (Revised ed.). London: Frederick Warne LTD. pp. 205–222. ISBN 0-7232-2096-4.
  2. Petchey, W.J., Massachusetts (1967). A Short Account of the Armorial Bearings of the Sovereigns of England. London: National Council of Social Service.
  3. Scotland was formally reunited with England by an Ordinance of 12 April 1654 which ordered: "That the arms of Scotland viz: a Cross commonly called the St Andrew's Cross be received onto and borne from henceforth in the Arms of this Commonwealth ... etc". 'April 1654: An Ordinance for uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England.', Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642–1660 (1911), pp. 871–875. URL: Date accessed: 1 January 2011.
  4. Friar, Basic Heraldry (1993).
  5. François Velde's Heraldica site
  6. Arnaud Bunel's Héraldique européenne site
  7. Brooke-Little, J. P. (1978) [1950]. Boutell's Heraldry (Revised ed.). London: Frederick Warne LTD. pp. 205–222. ISBN 0-7232-2096-4.
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