The Abuse of Heraldry ~ 2

A correspondent has sent us the book token pictured below and has asked us to comment ~ but words fail us. What can we say?


It is obviously intended to imitate the Royal Achievement, incorporating as it does a passable imitation of the Royal crown, a lion and a unicorn as supporters, a rose and a thistle as badges, and a shield that bears the three leopards of England, the rampant tressured lion of Scotland and the Irish harp.

Below the achievement the design includes what we assume to be a daffodil and a three-leafed clover on either side of a red dragon (representing the Principality of Wales).

Let us ignore the dragon, daffodil and clover leaves, for in themselves they form an acceptable heraldic composition. It is the upper two-thirds of the design that offends the heraldic proprieties.

The blazon for the shield is Quarterly 1 Azure a harp Or stringed Argent, 2 Gules three lions passant guardant Or, 3 Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counterflory Gules, and 4 per fess Argent and Vert a dragon Gules.

It is thus the Royal shield with its 3rd quarter (for Ireland) placed first, its 1st quarter (for England) placed second, its 2nd quarter (for Scotland) placed third, and its 4th quarter (a repetition of its first) replaced with a Welsh dragon.

Whether the artist responsible is an Irishman making a political statement, or a Welshman with a confused memory who resents the absence of Welsh representation in the Royal Arms, or an honest artisan with an historically challenged education, we can only speculate. On balance we suspect the third alternative is most likely to be correct. He is undoubtedly a brave man (or a very virtuous woman) for who else would let loose a unicorn unchained (and in case he or she is reading this we shall mention that a unicorn is dangerously uncontrollable unless in the presence of a virgin, which is why he always appears in heraldry with a heavy gold chain). The English lion, normally gold, has turned red with the embarrassment of losing his crown, and the Welsh dragon appears to have acquired the large furry ears of a

Very odd!

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