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HERALDRY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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I plan on registering a coat of arms with the Council of Arms, but I do not have a coat of arms granted. What do I do?

Because of its international nature, all arms to be registered with the Council of Arms must have been granted by a granting authority, such as a royal house or government.

How does the Council of Arms ensure that the arms I register do not conflict with existing armorial bearings granted to someone else?

This is a matter beyond the scope of the Council, as the Council only registers arms granted by lawful granting authorities. However, no office of arms or private heraldry club has the resources or the obligation to complete an exhaustive search of all extant arms. Furthermore, there is no complete listing of all arms in the world.

Does the Council of Arms register armorial bearings as they are submitted?

The Council registers arms in accordance with the original grant and the heraldic privileges of the registrant. The actual final rendering is generally in accordance with standard designs used by the Council.

How long does a registration take?

Usually the registration process is complete within four months from the date of receipt of complete application materials.

I want to register arms for myself, my father, my mother, my sibling, other family members... How do I do this?

Arms of family members may be registered with the Council under the same conditions and with the same requirements as for registering one’s own individual arms.

Can the Council help me obtain a grant of arms from Royal Houses and Governments?

The Council of Arms may assist with obtaining a grant of arms from various royal houses, reigning and non-reigning, and governments around the world on a case-by-case basis.

What do specific symbols in coats of arms mean?

There are no absolutely meanings of the various symbols used in heraldry. Some have devised dictionaries of heraldic meanings, but the meanings are not absolute and often vary from dictionary to dictionary. Sometimes symbols have special meaning to the armiger or the family.

What about stores selling “my” coat of arms and/or family name history?

True family arms are those in countries such as Italy and Germany that may be borne by certain members of the family equally. Beyond that, there are no arms that refer to every single person with a certain surname. The notorious “coat of arms of the Smith family” is a complete myth. Moreover, in countries in which arms belong to one single individual, claiming such arms as yours because you share the same family name is really claiming something that belongs to another individual.

Do ladies have to display their armorial bearings on a lozenge?

No. Ladies may choose to display their arms in one of the following two ways:

 1. On a lozenge, oval, or cartouche, without the helm, mantling, and crest.

or...

2. As a "full" armorial achievement (with shield, helm, mantling, and crest).

What heraldic "augmentations" will the Council of Arms register?

The Council registers arms according to the way they were granted. Augmentations to which a registrant has a right may relate to titles of nobility, ecclesiastical rank, chivalric orders, or religious orders. Augmentations may be registered regardless of the country of citizenship of the registrant.

 

The following explains some common augmentations:

Augmentations to the Shield

The shield may be registered with appropriate marks of augmentation or additions. For example, some chivalric or religious orders permit a “chief” of the order, or for the shield to be displayed upon a cross of the order or surrounded by a rosary. Some orders have augmentations, such as batons, that are crossed behind the shield. These may be registered if they were included in the original grant or the registrant provides evidence of the entitlement to the privilege.

The Helm(s)

The heraldic rules regarding helms differ by country. Therefore, the Council registers helms according to the way they were originally granted. Some coats of arms also have more than one helm. This occurs when the armiger has more than one crest.

Supporters

A frequently seen augmentation is the addition of supporters. Supporters are usually depictions of heraldic beasts or persons on both sides of the shield, “supporting” it. These virtually always indicate nobility or some high distinction. They may be optionally registered for individuals only if included in the original grant.

Crowns or Coronets of Rank and Ecclesiastical Hats or Crowns

Crowns or Coronets of rank indicating royal or noble status or title may be included in the registration for those with such titles. Likewise, ecclesiastical hats may be included in the registration if the registrant is so entitled by his religious tradition. Far from being extravagant or inappropriate, the use of crowns and coronets remains relevant even in democratic societies, such as the United States of America, due to their importance in historical context. The use of ecclesiastical hats is a matter of freedom of religion.

Badges and Insignia of Military Honors, Orders or other Organizations

Badges or insignia of chivalric orders or nobiliary companies are registered if they were included in the original grant or the registrant provides evidence of the entitlement to the privilege.

 

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