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British Royal Standards after the Union of the Crowns, 1603

House of Stuart

Last modified: 2014-01-04 by rob raeside
Keywords: royal standard | union of the crowns | james vi | james i | william and mary |
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[James I standard] by Vincent Morley, Rick Wyatt, and Jonathan Dixon

See also:

James I (1603-1625)

When James VI of Scotland became James I of England as well, he adopted a banner representing all his kingdoms. Quartered the previous Royal Banner of England, the Arms of Scotland, and the arms of Ireland. (ratio 5:7)

[Obviously, quartering France, Scotland, England and Ireland would have been too simple a solution.]

Evans (1970),

This flag with a baton added is the banner of arms for the Duke of Grafton and the city of Grafton, NSW, Australia.
Jonathan Dixon, 16 April 2005

Charles I (1625-1649)

Charles II (1660-1685)

In 1660, at the restoration, Charles II used a Union Flag with in the centre on a white field his cypher in gold, CR with a crown above them, as no Royal Standard was available at that time. (4:5) Evans (1970)

Do all UK Kings have such cyphers or was this just for the occasion? At least Elizabeth II has one, and currently uses it on a flag. What about the Prince of Wales?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg
, 24 April 2002

There have been Royal Cyphers for some time but rarely applied to flags. The flag for military officers afloat was the Union Jack defaced with the Royal Cypher on a blue disc surrounded by the usual garland, and the Royal Cypher also appears on the Colours of some military units.

David Prothero, 27 April 2002

William III, of Orange, and Mary II (1689-1702)

Royal Standard

[James I standard] image located by Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg, 23 April 2002


These arms show the impaled coats of William and Mary, proclaimed king and queen in England in February 1689 and in Scotland in April 1689. They are identical, except that William bears an escutcheon of Nassau overall.
Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg, 23 April 2002

The standard of William III added to the Royal Standard a heart-shield of Nassau: On blue semé de billets a lion rampant or. (2:3) [Siegel (1912), von Volborth (1985)]. Siegel (1912) has, continuing from the description above:

'This standard also occurs in a form which bears the Arms as a shield on a white background, encircled of a ribbon of the Order of the Garter, on which stands the motto "honny soit qui mal y pense". The shield holders are lion and unicorn.'

According to Siegel (1912), S. de Vries - De doorluchtige Weereld ..." has a different version of these flags:

A white flag with the arms, quartered the three golden lions of England on a red field, the red lion of Scotland on a golden field, the three golden fleur-de-lys of France on a blue field and the golden harp of Ireland on blue, with a heart-shield for the lion of Nassau. The English arms are crowned with a royal crown and encircled with a ribbon with the motto of the Garter. The shield holders are the crowned lion and the unicorn.' (2:3)

It's likely these two refer to the same standard, though.
Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg, 23 April 2002

The arms of William III and Mary II as King and Queen of England and Scotland, which they ruled jointly, impaled their separate arms, but no standard may have existed of this. (7:9) [Evans (1970), von Volborth (1985)].  What apparently did exist is William of Orange's expeditionary flag (2:3), which impales their personal arms. Judging from the larger image in Visser (1995) the caption should read:


Personally, I have my doubts about the use of an abbreviation on a flag, as did Siegel (1912), possibly following S. de Vries, writing the word "religion" in full, but the tressure is depicted as a single tressure flory, so maybe this doesn't count. Curious point: Who made the "mistake" - the flagmaker or the flagpainter?
Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg, 23 April 2002

It's not clear whether Mary II, who reigned together with her husband, used her arms as a separate Royal Banner [Evans (1970)]
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 24 April 2002

Arms of William III

[William III arms] [William III arms] images by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 15 December 2013

 William III of Orange-Nassau (1650 – 1702), as Willem III of Oranje Stadtholder of the General States (Republic of the Seven United Netherlands) since 1672, as William III King of England and Ireland since 1689, as William II King of Scotland. He was married with Mary II, daughter of Charles I of England from the Stuart kin. His arms are a nice example of complex quartering. They combine his personal arms (dexter half) with those of Queen Mary (sinister half), which are acc. to Neubecker the arms of the Stuart kings.
Description of arms: (number of quarter in brackets):
The shield is divided per pale. The dexter half is quartered by the arms of Nassau (1) above right, of Katzenellnbogen (2) above left, of Vianden (3) below right and Diez (4) below left. In the honour point are the arms of Moers (5), in the heart point the quartered arms of Chalon(6 and 10) and  Orange (7 and 9), superimposed in the centre by the arms of Geneve (8), in the navel point are the arms of Buren (11) in Gelderland (Netherlands). The sinister half is quartered by the counter quartered arms of England (12 and 15) and France ancient (13 and 14) above right, the arms of Scotland (16) above left, the arms of Ireland (17) below right and finally the quartered arms of England (18 and 21) and France ancient (19 and 20).
The arms in detail:
(1): Nassau: in blue field scattered by golden (= yellow) billets, a golden (= yellow), rampant lion; armed and tongued red
(2): Katzenellnbogen: in golden (= yellow) field a red, rampant, guardant lion; crowned, armed and tongued blue
(3): Vianden (Luxemburg) : a red field divided by a silver (= white) fess
(4): Diez: in red field two golden (= yellow), passant lions ordered per pale; armed and tongued blue
(5): Moers: a golden (= yellow) field divided by a black fess
(6): [= (10)] Chalon: a red field divided by a golden (= yellow) bend
(7): [= (9)] Orange proper: in golden (= yellow) field a blue horn laced(?) red
(8): Geneve: nine times chequered golden(= yellow) and blue
(11): Buren: a red field divided by a silver (= white) fess embattled counterembattled
(12): [= (15) = (18) = (21)] France modern: in blue field three golden (= yellow) fleur de lis ordered 2:1
(13): [= (14) = (19) = (20)] England: in red field three golden (= yellow), statant, guardant lions ordered per pale; armed and tongued blue
(16): Scotland: in golden (= yellow) field a red, rampant lion, armed and tongued blue, surrounded by a red double, fleury tressure
(17): Ireland: in blue field a golden (= yellow) harp.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 15 December 2013

Flag of William III (as King of England)

[William III flag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 15 December 2013

 It is a white flag. Shifted to the hoist are the arms of William III. The shield is topped by a golden coronet with fleur de lys and crosses patty. The shield is supporter by a golden (= yellow), rampant, guardant lion; crowned golden at the dexter side and a silver (= white), forcene, reguardant unicorn, wearing a golden (= yellow) coronet around his neck and a necklace (or chain) of the same colour hanging down from the coronet. Above the whole ensemble is an inscription in black, serif initials “FOR THE PROTESTANT RELIGION ANT THE LIBERTY OF ENGLAND” and beneath the shield between the supporters feet another inscription of the same kind “JE MAINTIENDRAY”. The flag is topped by a swallow tailed blue over white over red streamer. The streamers white head is divided by a red St. George’s Cross. I think the phrase should read "I maintain" (as in uphold, will support and/or adhere to) the liberties of England etc. “Je maintiendrai” (modern spelling) is on the coat of arms of the Netherlands, and derives from an ancestor of William of Orange who vowed to maintain the independence of the Netherlands against the Spanish powers in the Middle Ages. The meaning is "I will maintain" or "I will persevere".
The flag is found with variations in several sources: Neubecker 1932, p.36, image 124; Diderot D’Alembert 1780; suite of plate 17, image no.32; Diderot D’Alembert 1780, edition 1780, plate 17 suite, image no.34. The last contains the arms as described above and is topped by a royal crown with four crosses patty and four fleur de lis and an imperial globe at the top, all in gold. The shield is surrounded by a blue collar, being the Order of the Garter held by a golden belt buckle and with the order’s motto around the belt in golden initials. The whole ensemble is shifted to the hoist. In the coloured 1751 edition the belt is red.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 16 December 2013

The 1:2 proportions may not the best choice of ratio in this instance. Those proportions became usual for naval flags (due to the width of cloth used in making them) towards the end of the 18th Century, and I suggest that a flag of 1688 would be 11:18 at its longest and very possibly quite a bit shorter?
Christopher Southworth, 16 December 2013

I think you are right, but look at the source (Diderot)! The flag there has a sharp bend at the fly end without any design. For me it appeared even" longer". Thus 1:2 was my compromise between Diderot and Neubecker. 2:3 might however the better idea, because that's the ratio of Dutch flags, and William came to England as Stadtholder of the General States.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 16 December 2013

Anne (1702-1714)

As the realm became a united kingdom in 1707, the English and Scottish arms impaled were placed in the first quarter, quartered with France and Ireland. For the Scottish arms a demi-double-tressure flory-counter-flory is used. (3:4)
Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg, 23 April 2002

Charles Edward Stuart (1745-1746)

As the Jacobite Charles Edward Stuart was not of the house Hannover, and was only crowned as King of Scotland, his Royal arms apparently were the Stewart arms, and they should only have been the Scottish version of those. Mention has been made of flags of Charles Edward captured at Culloden: A white flag with the Stewart's arms and the motto "God save the King", a white Standard, a red flag with a white square. These may however have been regimental colours, as one would expect the actual Royal standard to have left the battlefield with its King.
Peter Hans van der Muijzenberg, 23 April 2002

Continued as House of Hanover
See also United Kingdom Flags in the Interregnum (1649-1660)