Coat of arms of Greece
|Coat of arms of Greece|
|Escutcheon||Azure, a Cross Argent|
|Other elements||The escutcheon is wholly surrounded by two laurel leaves.|
The constitution does not specify a tincture for the branches, implying proper (i.e. green). The Greek government normally uses a design in which the laurel branches are monochrome blue. A version with golden laurel leaves is displayed by the military and on the presidential standard.
1832–1863: Wittelsbach dynasty
The coat of arms of the new king was provided for by Royal Decree of 26 January (1 February) 1833. Based on that of the Kingdom of Bavaria, its escutcheon was light blue and with the Greek cross; the escutcheon itself was supported by two crowned lions rampant and surmounted by the royal crown. The escutcheon of pretence was the coat of arms of Bavaria, as a symbol of the House of Wittelsbach.
This emblem was discarded upon the king's deposition and exile in 1862.
1924–1935: Second Hellenic Republic
When Greece became a republic in 1924, all external ornamentation was discarded.
1864-1924 and 1935–1973: Glücksburg dynasty
Following Otto's deposition in 1862, the 17-year old Prince William of Denmark was in 1863 chosen as Greece's new king.
The arms of the kingdom and the new king were provided for by Royal Decree of 9 November 1863. The new achievement for the coat of arms bore a strong resemblance to that of the Danish Royal Family. The escutcheon remained the same, but the dynastic arms of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg family became the new escutcheon of pretence. The shield remained surmounded by the royal crown. Two new male figures were introduced as new supporters, alluding to the legendary Heracles. The Order of the Redeemer was also added. The motto of the dynasty, i.e. Ἰσχύς μου ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ λαοῦ ("People's love, my strength"), was also introduced.
In 1973, the then-ruling military junta abolished the monarchy, which was confirmed by a subsequent referendum. After the collapse of the military regime in 1974, the new government decided to hold another referendum regarding the form of government as acts of the Junta were then considered to be illegal. The 1974 referendum resulted in the republican form of government being maintained.
The current emblem is designated by Law 48/1975. This is a restoration of the traditional arms, yet with laurel leaves being the sole external ornamentation. The government uses a stylised design by the artist Kostas Grammatopoulos.
Historical, non-heraldic emblems
The first Greek national emblem was provided for by the Constitution of Epidauros of 1 January 1822 and was established by decree on 15 March of the same year. It was the shape of a blue and white circular cockade.
Since it was first established the emblem has undergone many changes in shape and in design, mainly due to changes of regime. The original Greek national emblem depicted the goddess Athena and the owl. At the time of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first Prime Minister of modern Greece, the phoenix, the symbol of rebirth, was added.
The national coat of arms of the junta - self-proclaimed "Republic" in 1973–1974. Between 1970 and 1973, when Greece formally remained a monarchy, it replaced the royal emblem on Greek coins.
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- Law 48 (Gov. Gazette 108, issue A, dated 7.6.1975)
- Royal Decree of 9 November 1863 (Gazette 44, dated 28.12.1863, pages 230-231)
- Royal Decree of 26 January (1 February) 1833 (Gazette 2, dated 22.02.1833, page 6)
- From the latter, royalists in Greece were sometimes mockingly called "Ηρακλείς" ("the Heracleses").