This page deals with ROYAL Coats of Arms, which have changed considerably over the centuries, reflecting the power politics of their times. Perhaps the most fascinating change to track is the claim to France, which lingers in the English Arms until the Act of Union (with Ireland) of 1801 – when Napoleon had swept away the last remnants of French aristocracy anyway.

Thanks to Cynthia Lydiard Cannings for her invaluable inspiration and help on this subject.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Coats of Arms 1 2 3 4

Queen Anne

In 1707 the Arms of England and Scotland were moved to the first and third quarters, marking the Act of Union between the two. Ireland and France assumed equal size on the other quarters. The claim to France was quietly dropped in 1801, after the French Revolution had overthrown its monarchy.

St Paul’s Cathedral EC4
Tube: St Paul’s

King George I

In 1714, the coronation of the German George I – Queen Anne's closest living Protestant relative – brought the Arms of Hanover, with its distinctive white horse, into the fourth quarter (and sparked off the Jacobite Risings). These handsome arms are on the front of St Martin-in-the-Fields church.

Trafalgar Square WC2
Tube: Charing Cross

King Henry VIII

This gatehouse of 1518 bears the Arms of King Henry VIII. The three Lions of England are quartered with France’s Fleur-di-Lis, marking the claim to the French throne that dated to Edward III in 1340. Henry also proclaimed himself King of Ireland in 1541 but never adopted Irish Arms.

Lincoln’s Inn WC2
Tube: Chancery Lane

King Charles I

After 1603, when King James I proclaimed himself King of Great Britain, the quartered French and English charges were quartered with the Irish Harp and Scottish Lion Rampant. These Arms are on the statue of Charles I (1600-1649) whose struggle for power over Parliament led to his eventual beheading.

Trafalgar Square WC2
Tube: Charing Cross

King George IV

King George IV granted the first Royal Warrant to J Floris Ltd in 1820 and it now holds two: from Prince Charles and HM the Queen. The arms of Hanover moved to the centre in 1801 but the crown above dates these after 1816, when Hanover became a Kingdom.

Floris, 89 Jermyn Street SW1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7930 2885
Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Queen Victoria

The arms adopted their modern form with the dropping of the Hanoverian Arms after the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, following the death of the childless William IV. She lost the Kingdom of Hanover as the line followed Salic Law ie the title had to go to a man.

Clockhouse, Leather Lane EC1
Tube: Farringdon

King Edward VII

The former General Post Office building was built from 1907-1911 under architect Sir Henry Tanner. One of the first major public buildings to be made of reinforced concrete, its frontage is decorated with two of these very handsome royal Arms and the cypher of Edward VII.

King Edward Street EC1
Tube: St Paul’s

King George II

In 1728, these Arms of George II were put up on the gatehouse of old London Bridge. When the bridge was widened in 1760, the year George III came to the throne, they found their way to this street (altered to read GIII) and then the front of Kings Arms pub. The Supporters are very virile.

Newcomen Street SE1
Tube: Borough