11 OCTOBER 2002
Perhaps one of Prince Harry’s more unique birthday presents this year was the official coat of arms given to him to celebrate his 18th year. The Prince was himself involved in designing the crest which unusually incorporates an emblem from his mother Princess Diana’s family arms.
Harry’s unique crest, like that of his elder brother William - also presented on the occasion of his 18th birthday - is based upon the quartered arms of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Both feature a lion and a unicorn on either side of the shield, topped by a coronet and a second, smaller lion.
The family of the late Princess Diana, the Spencers, is reflected in the coats of arms by small, red escallops which appear on the white collars worn by the lions, unicorn and shield. In William’s version these appear once on each element, whereas on Harry’s crest the Spencer motif appears three times.
Using the Spencer sign marks a change in convention for ruling crests, which traditionally do not use symbols from the mother’s side of the family. As Peter Gwynn-Jones, Garter of Arms to the Queen, explains: “After changing convention for Prince William by using symbols from his maternal Arms, it made sense to develop this further for Prince Harry.
“This is especially significant because, unlike his elder brother who will one day see his Arms alter to reflect his changing responsibilities, Prince Harry will always keep the escallop shells from his mother's Spencer family Arms and, in time, may pass them on to his children.”