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Prince William's Arms

A New Coat

The official picture released with the announcement that Prince William, for his 18th birthday, had received from his grandmother a new coat of arms, was reproduced in the newspapers at too small a scale to show the item most emphasised as their lead. The Prince had chosen, they said, to commemorate his mother by including a red scallop shell from her arms four times on his. But only sharp eyes could see it.

Prince William's new arms
escallop gules
This, on the left, is the escallop gules featured once on William's new arms and three times more on the labels borne by his lion and unicorn supporters and by the lion of his crest. On the rectangular banner (commonly described as a "royal standard") used by his parents during their marriage (shown below), Diana's arms have three escallops argent on a bend. These are the only feature of the Spencer arms that are truly theirs, the remainder being the arms of the mediaeval Despencers to whom they were unrelated (as described in Mists of Antiquity).

The arms of William's father on this banner consist of the Royal Arms debruised by a label of three points and bearing in the centre the arms of the Principality of Wales ensigned by the coronet of the Heir Apparent.

Before receiving his new arms, William bore his father's arms without the Wales escutcheon and coronet, and with a label of five points, as shown below.

Banner of Prince and Princess of Wales
Prince William's old arms
As illustrated here (below right), William's new arms feature a label of three points instead of five (usual for a grandson), and this label being charged with an escallop makes it uniquely his. The arms are thus uniquely his as an individual, not merely as his father's eldest son.
Prince William's label
One of the British newspapers reported that the escallop was especially suitable for William, not only because it was featured on the Spencer arms, but because it signified a second son and, moreover, that William was second in line to the Throne. This was an extraordinary error. The cadency symbol for a second son is, as it has been since the beginning of heraldry, a crescent. The escallop is not a cadency symbol.
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