Coat of arms of Canberra

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Coat of Arms of Canberra
Coat of Arms of Canberra.svg
Armiger City of Canberra
Adopted 1928
Crest A gum tree proper upon a mount vert, surmounted by a portcullis ensigned by an Imperial Crown Or
Escutcheon A castle triple-towered and portcullis lowered argent, between in chief a sword and a sceptre saltireways proper surmounted by an Imperial Crown Or, and in base a rose argent, barbed vert and seeded Or.
Supporters Mute swan and a Black swan.
Motto For the Queen, the Law and the People

The requirement for a coat of arms of Canberra was created by the response to a request by the Commonwealth Department of Defence,[1] who wanted to use it on the newly commissioned HMAS Canberra.[1]

The Federal Capital Commission (FCC) announced a competition to design a coat of arms for the City of Canberra.[1]

In April 1928, the design of one Mr C. R. Wylie, having won the competition, was sent to the College of Arms, in London, for approval.[1] The coat of arms at this stage did not include a motto. After minor adjustments, King George V granted the design by Royal Warrant dated 8 October 1928. The College of Arms issued the official exemplification (artistic rendition) and blazon (description) on 7 November 1928, along with a crest.[1]

From 1993 a modified version of this Coat of Arms appear also in the flag of the Australian Capital Territory.


The various symbols of the coat of arms are explained below:

  • The crown symbolises Royal authority;
  • The mace symbolises the Parliament of Australia;
  • The sword symbolises the Sword of State;
  • The castle has three towers, symbolising the three branches of government (executive, legislature and judiciary);
  • The White Rose is the badge of the Duke of York who opened the old Parliament of Australia building in 1927, and who would later be crowned as King George VI.
  • The crowned portcullis again symbolises the parliament, this being the traditional symbol of the Palace of Westminster (which houses the Parliament of the United Kingdom);
  • Behind the portcullis is a Gum tree which symbolises Canberra's nickname "The Bush Capital";
  • The supporters are ideally the Australian black swan, representing the Australian Aborigines, and the European white mute swan, representing the white settlers.
  • The motto is "For the Queen, the Law and the People" which is the English translation of "Pro Rege, Lege et Grege", a common motto in European history.[2]

Coat of Arms Change Debate[edit]

One publicised proposal for an Coat of Arms of the Australian Capital Territory to replace the Coat of Arms of Canberra.

Coinciding with Canberra's 100 year anniversary in 2013, the debate on whether the coat of arms should be changed appears from time to time in Canberra's media outlets. Criticism has largely centered around the perceived outdatedness of symbols within the arms. For instance, campaigner Terry Fewtrell argues that ‘‘It’s a travesty that nothing in it reflects the real Canberra,’’ he said on Wednesday. ‘‘It is neither Australian, nor reflective of the people and the place that we live in.’’[3] Examples include the crowns, castle, sword, and mace that are on the coat of arms.