Royal Banner of Scotland

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Royal Banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland
  • Lion Rampant of Scotland
  • Royal Banner of Scotland
  • Royal Standard of Scotland
  • Banner of the King of Scots
  • House banner is 5:4 ratio
  • Mass-produced renditions tend towards 1:2 or 2:3 ratio
Adopted13th century
DesignRed (Gules) lion rampant with blue (Azure) claws and tongue, within a red double border having a motif of alternating heraldic lilies, on a yellow (Or) field.

The Royal Banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland,[1] also known as the Royal Banner of Scotland,[2][3] or more commonly the Lion Rampant of Scotland,[4] and historically as the Royal Standard of Scotland, (Scottish Gaelic: Bratach rìoghail na h-Alba, Scots: Ryal banner o Scotland) or Banner of the King of Scots,[5] is the royal banner of Scotland, and historically, the royal standard of the Kingdom of Scotland.[6] Used historically by the Scottish monarchs, the banner differs from Scotland's national flag, the Saltire, in that its official use is restricted by an Act of the Parliament of Scotland to only a few Great Officers of State who officially represent the Monarchy in Scotland.[6] It is also used in an official capacity at royal residences in Scotland when the Head of State is not present.[7]

The earliest recorded use of the Lion Rampant as a royal emblem in Scotland was by Alexander II in 1222;[8] with the additional embellishment of a double border set with lilies occurring during the reign of Alexander III (1249–1286).[8] This emblem occupied the shield of the royal coat of arms of the ancient Kingdom of Scotland which, together with a royal banner displaying the same, was used by the King of Scots until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI acceded to the thrones of the kingdoms of England and Ireland.[9] Since 1603, the lion rampant of Scotland has been incorporated into both the royal arms and royal banners of successive Scottish then British monarchs in order to symbolise Scotland, as can be seen today in the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom.[10] Although now officially restricted to use by representatives of the Monarch and at royal residences, the Royal Banner continues to be one of Scotland's most recognisable symbols.[11]


Royal Banner being flown above Holyrood Palace

Displaying a red lion rampant, with blue tongue and claws, within a red double border on a yellow background, the design of the Royal Banner of Scotland is formally specified in heraldry as: Or, a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory counter-flory of the second,[12] meaning: A gold (Or) background, whose principal symbol is a red (Gules) upright lion (lion rampant) with blue (Azure) claws and tongue (armed and langued), surrounded by a two-lined border (tressure) decorated with opposing pairs of floral symbols (flory counter-flory) of the second colour specified in the blazon (Gules). Used as a house flag, its proportions are 5:4;[13] however, flag manufacturers themselves may also adopt alternative ratios, including 1:2 or 2:3.[14]


Reverse side of the circular seal used by Alexander the Second, showing the King, in full armour, seated on horseback. The upright Lion symbol is shown upon both the saddle and the shield held by the King.
Reverse of Alexander II's Great Seal, displaying the Lion rampant on saddle and shield.

The Lion rampant has been used as a heraldic symbol by heirs of Malcolm III beginning with David I. The Great Seal was used by Alexander II (1214–1249).[8] Its use in Scotland originated during the reign of Malcolm III (1058–1093), The Lion rampant motif is used as a badge by those Irish clans that have lineage in common with Malcolm III. They are linked to the legendary Milesian genealogies (specifically, the red lion is associated with the descendants of Érimón).[15][16] An early recorded Scottish royal standard featured a dragon, which was used at the Battle of the Standard in 1138 by David I (1124–1153).[17] Robert the Bruce, King Robert I, almost certainly wore a yellow surcoat that bore the Royal Red Lion Rampart at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.[citation needed]

Following the Union of the Crowns of England, Ireland and Scotland in 1603, the Royal Banner of the arms of the kings of Scotland was incorporated into the royal standards of successive Scottish then, following the Acts of Union in 1707, British monarchs; with all such royal standards being quartered to include the banner of the arms of each individual realm. Since 1603, the Royal Banner of Scotland has appeared in both the first and fourth quarters of the quartered royal standard used in Scotland, while appearing only in the second quarter of that version used elsewhere.[7]


View of the Palace of Holyrood House showing the Royal Banner of Scotland flying from the rooftop flagpole, indicating that Her Majesty the Queen is not in residence.
The Royal Banner of Scotland flying above Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.

Use at royal residences[edit]

The Royal Banner of Scotland is used officially at the Scottish royal residences of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, and Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, when the King is not in residence. The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom used in Scotland is flown when the Monarch is present.[7]

Use by representatives of the Monarchy[edit]

In the tradition of Scottish heraldry, use of the banner is not restricted to the monarch.[18] Several Great Officers of State who officially represent the Monarchy in Scotland are permitted to use the Royal Banner of Scotland, including; the First Minister of Scotland (as Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland), Lord Lieutenants within their respective Lieutenancies, the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms and other lieutenants who may be specially appointed by the Head of State.[6]

Use by the Heir Apparent[edit]

A variation of the Royal Banner of Scotland is used by the heir apparent to the monarch, the Duke of Rothesay, whose standard is the banner defaced with an Azure coloured plain label of three points.[19] The personal banner of Charles III, prior to his accession to the throne, also featured the same, displayed upon an inner shield.[20]

Legal status[edit]

As the personal banner of the Monarch, use of the Royal Banner of Scotland is restricted under the Act of the Parliament of Scotland 1672 cap. 47 and the Lyon King of Arms Act 1867 (30 & 31 Vict. c. 17), and any unauthorised use of such is an offence under the Act.[6][21] In 1978, a St Albans linen merchant, Denis Pamphilon, was fined £100 daily for usurpation of the banner on decorative bedspreads until he desisted, and both Rangers F.C. and the Scottish National Party have been admonished by the Court of the Lord Lyon for their non-authorised use of the banner.[22] Despite such action, the flag continues to feature on a variety of merchandise and souvenirs produced commercially for Scotland's economically important tourism industry.[23][24]

In 1934, George V issued a royal warrant authorising use of the Royal Banner of Scotland during the Silver Jubilee celebrations, due to take place the following year. However, such use was restricted to hand-held flags for "decorative ebullition" as a mark of loyalty to the Monarch; the banner was not to be flown from flagpoles or public buildings.[25][26] The use of hand-held flags at state occasions, such as the opening of the Scottish Parliament,[27] and at sporting events,[28] continues to be authorised by this Royal Warrant although according to former Lord Lyon Robin Blair in an interview given to the Sunday Post in November 2007, such use at sporting events "was not envisaged in 1935".[29]

Appearance in other royal flags[edit]

As well as forming the basis of the standard of the Duke of Rothesay,[30] the Royal Banner of Scotland has since 1603 been a component of what is now styled the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom, both for the version used exclusively in Scotland and the one used elsewhere. It similarly appears in the Queen's personal Canadian standard,[31] with the arms of Canada reflecting the royal symbols of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.[32]


National Flag of Scotland[edit]

The Saltire, the national flag of Scotland; a white x shaped cross on a blue background.
The Saltire

The Flag of Scotland, also known as the Saint Andrew's Cross or more commonly The Saltire, is the national flag of Scotland.[33] It is also, where possible, flown from Scottish Government buildings every day from 8am until sunset, with certain exceptions, for example, on United Kingdom National Days.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Boudreau, Claire; Cogné, Daniel; Vachon, Auguste (17 April 1998). Proceedings of the 22nd International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Ottawa August 18–23, 1996. University of Ottawa Press. ISBN 9780776604725. Retrieved 17 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "No. 24101". The Edinburgh Gazette. 29 November 1996. p. 2862.
  4. ^ Tytler, Patrick F (1845). History of Scotland. Vol. 2: 1149–1603. William Tait. p. 433 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Innes of Learney, Sir Thomas (1934). Scots heraldry: a practical handbook on the historical principles and modern application of the art and science. Oliver and Boyd. p. 186 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c d "The 'Lion Rampant' Flag". The Court of the Lord Lyon. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2008. pointing at the Lyon King of Arms Act 1672, c. 47 and the Lyon King of Arms Act 1867, 30 & 31 Vict. c. 17
  7. ^ a b c "Union Jack". The Royal Household. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  8. ^ a b c McAndrew, Bruce (2006). Scotland's Historic Heraldry. Boydell Press. p. 24. ISBN 1-84383-261-5. Most important, the convex shield now displays arms of a lion rampant, without as yet the embellishment of a border of any sort At Google Book Search
  9. ^ "United Kingdom Monarchs (1603-present)". The Royal Household. Archived from the original on 10 March 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  10. ^ "Royal Standard". The Royal Household. Archived from the original on 28 December 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  11. ^ "'Super regiment' badge under fire". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 16 August 2005. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  12. ^ McColgan, R.A. (1998). "The Arms of the King of Scots and Selected Heraldry". In Cogné, Daniel; Boudreau, Claire; Vachon, Auguste (eds.). Genealogica & heraldica: proceedings of the 22nd International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Ottawa. Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press. p. 402. ISBN 9780776604725.
  13. ^ "Further Guidance on Flags". The Court of the Lord Lyon. Archived from the original on 2 August 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2009.
  14. ^ "Scottish Standard". UK Flags. Flying Colours Flagmakers. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  15. ^ O'Hart, John (1989). Irish pedigrees: or, The origin and stem of the Irish nation. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 55. ISBN 0-8063-0737-4. Milesius of Spain bore three lions in his shield and standard, for the following reasons: namely, that, in his travels in his younger days into foreign countries, passing through Africa, he, by his cunning and valour, killed in one morning three lions; and that, in memory of so noble and valiant an exploit, he always after bore three lions on his shield, which his two surviving sons Heber and Heremon, and his grandson Heber Donn, son of Ir, after their conquest of Ireland, divided amongst them, as well as they did the country: each of them bearing a Lion in his shield and banner, but of different colours; which the Chiefs of their posterity continue to this day: some with additions and differences; others plain and entire as they had it from their ancestors. Google Books
  16. ^ Pepper, George (1829). The Irish Shield and Monthly Milesian. Volume 937 of American periodical series, 1800-1850. s.n. p. 309. From the royal Irish source sprung the Malcolms, the Bruces, the Baliols, the Stuarts, the Campbells as well as the Douglases, and Macullamore, and the reigning family of England, as the Irish and Scottish genealogies will prove. Google Books
  17. ^ Strong, John; Tatlock, Perry (1950). The legendary history of Britain: Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and its early vernacular versions. University of California Press. p. 329.
  18. ^ Bartram, Graham (2005). British flags & emblems. Flag Institute. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-86232-297-4. The usage of the Lion Rampant banner follows Scottish practice in that it is not restricted to the monarch but is used by the monarch's high-ranking representatives. These are the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the Keeper of the Great Seal (who is the Scottish First Minister) and the Lord Lieutenants of the Counties. At Google Book Search
  19. ^ McAndrew, Bruce A. (2006). Scotland's historic heraldry. Boydell Press. p. 276. ISBN 1-84383-261-5.
  20. ^ "Standards". Website of The Prince of Wales. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  21. ^ Sylvia, Andrew (19 January 2012). "Why Does the Flag at MacKay's Hardware Have Blue Toenails?". Westford, MA Patch. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  22. ^ Groom, Nick (2006). The Union Jack: the Story of the British Flag. Atlantic Books. p. 294. ISBN 1-84354-336-2.
  23. ^ "The Scottish Souvenir Shop". World Souvenirs Ltd. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  24. ^ "ScotWeb". Scotweb Marketing Ltd. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  25. ^ Eriksen, Thomas H; Jenkins, Richard (2007). Flag, nation and symbolism in Europe and America. Routledge. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-415-44404-0. King George V issued a Royal Warrant in 1934 that allowed the banner to be used during the Silver Jubilee celebrations of 1935 in Scotland 'as a mark of respect to the Sovereign', but not to be flown on flagpoles or public buildings - it was solely for 'decorative ebullition', comparable today with its being displayed at football matches. Google Books
  26. ^ "Lion Rampant Flag (1936)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 24 November 1936. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  27. ^ "Holyrood Opening". The Scottish Parliament. Archived from the original on 23 April 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  28. ^ Gordon, Phil (29 March 2003). "How Scottish fans fell out of love with Hampden and their team". The Times. Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  29. ^ "The Lion Rampant & Heraldry". The McGeachie Surname Forum. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  30. ^ McAndrew, Bruce (2006). Scotland's Historic Heraldry. Boydell Press. p. 276. ISBN 1-84383-261-5. From ca 1398, the King's eldest son was formally the Duke of Rothesay, though he is seldom found thus stated. Moreover, in 1469 the earldom of Carrick, lordship of Bute and the castle of Rothesay were permanently united and considered as the fief of the eldest son of the King of Scots; the dukedom of Rothesay is deemed to descend with them. His arms were the royal arms of Scotland with the addition of a label of three points azure At Google Books
  31. ^ "Personal flags and standards". Canadian Heritage. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
  32. ^ "Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols". Canadian Heritage. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  33. ^ Gardiner, James. "Scotland's National Flag, the Saltire or St Andrews Cross". Scran. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  34. ^ "Flag Flying Guidance". Issue No. 13 (Valid from January 2009). The Government of Scotland. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009.

External links[edit]

External image
image icon Standard of the Duke of Rothesay, together with the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom used in Scotland, hanging in the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. 2008-07-21. By Beery. Accessed 2009-12-16