The arms feature a shield, with the top third showing the national bird, the Saint Helena PloverCharadrius sanctaehelenae, known locally as the Wirebird – stylized, but with its unmistakable head pattern. The bottom two thirds depict a coastal scene of the island, a three-masted sailing ship with the mountainous island to the left. The coastal scene is taken from the colonial seal of the colony and shows the flag of England flying from the ship (when the shield was first introduced in 1874 the flag was a White Ensign).
The motto is Loyal and unshakable. The full coat of arms features, above the shield, a woman holding a cross and a flower. This represents Helena of Constantinople, also known as Saint Helena, after whom the island is named. The cross is shown as Helena is credited with finding the relics of the True Cross (cross upon which Jesus was crucified).