Coats of arms are traditionally given to the father of a royal bride-to-be in the days before the wedding, People reports. But with Markle’s father absent from the wedding, Markle was given the coat of arms directly. And unlike most coats of arms, it does not include Markle’s family name.
Markle worked with the College of Arms to ensure that the design “was both personal and representative,” according to a statement from Kensington Palace — and there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here’s what each part of Markle’s coat of arms means.
The right half of the shield is filled with nods to California, Markle’s home state. The shield’s blue background represents the Pacific Ocean while its two golden rays represent California sunshine. Golden poppies, California’s state flower, are also dotted across the grass at the shield’s base. Finally, quills printed on the shield are meant to represent “communication and the power of words,” two things close to Markle’s heart.
Markle’s arms are placed on the shield alongside Prince Harry’s, to symbolize their new union. This means their arms have been “impaled,” according to Kensington Palace.
When a woman marries into the royal family, she is given a “supporter”—one of the figures on either side of the shield—and takes one of her husband’s, Kensington Palace explains. “The Supporter relating to The Duchess of Sussex is a songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak, which with the quill represents the power of communication,” the statement says. The other supporter, a lion, is one of Prince Harry’s.
The crown topping Markle’s coat of arms “is the Coronet laid down by a Royal Warrant of 1917 for the sons and daughters of the Heir Apparent,” according to Kensington Palace. The crown is decorated with two crosses patée, two strawberry leaves and four fleurs-de-lys.
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