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What are symbols of royalty?

What are symbols of royalty?

Royalty throughout history have used various symbols to represent their status, wealth and power. These symbols were incorporated into their dress, furnishings, architecture, art and more. Some common royal symbols include crowns, scepters, thrones, coats of arms, royal colors, flags and animals. Understanding the meaning behind these symbols offers insight into the values and traditions of monarchies past and present.


One of the most universal symbols of royalty is the crown. Crowns are worn on the head as a sign of sovereignty and are perhaps the oldest and most recognizable emblem of royal authority.

Crowns come in many different styles depending on the time period and region. Some distinctive types of crowns include:

  • Circlets – Simple unadorned bands of metal worn during coronation ceremonies.
  • Diadems – Ornate crowns worn by queens and princesses.
  • Coronets – Smaller crowns worn by nobles ranking below a sovereign.
  • Tiaras – Semi-circular crowns worn for formal occasions.
  • Papal – Tall, beehive-shaped crowns worn by popes.

The materials crowns are made of have also evolved over time. Earlier crowns were often made of cloth, vegetation or leather. From ancient times through the medieval era, metals like bronze, silver and gold became popular. Precious stones like diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies were also incorporated for their beauty, color and perceived mystical powers.

While crowns are unmistakable status symbols, they have deeper meaning as well. The circle shape represents eternity and the divine right to rule. Being placed on the head indicates wisdom and closeness to God. Wearing a crown demonstrates the immense responsibility that comes with holding royal power.


The scepter is another ubiquitous emblem of royalty. These ornate rods or staffs are held in the hand as a symbol of authority and right to command. Like crowns, scepters have been used by monarchs for thousands of years across many ancient civilizations. They were present in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome, China, Africa and Europe.

Scepters are often made of precious metals like gold or silver and decorated with gems. Some also have decorative finials on the top showing birds, flowers, globes or Christian symbols. When not in use they are displayed on pedestals near the throne.

The scepter represents the monarch’s absolute power to rule unchallenged. It signifies military authority and strength to subdue any opposition to the crown. Scepters are often seen in imperial imagery being held alongside globes representing dominion over the earth. They are an important part of royal regalia and coronation rituals.


The throne is where the monarch presides and performs their duties as head of state. Thrones are ornate chairs elevated on a raised platform to represent the ruler’s supreme authority. Only the king or queen is permitted to sit on the throne while conducting official business. Those approaching the throne must bow before it in respect.

Royal thrones are made of precious metals like gold and silver and decorated with intricate carvings, fabrics and jewels. The back is often arched with a canopy overhead. Thrones grow increasingly elaborate to match the ruler’s power and wealth. The earliest were simple chairs but by medieval times monarchs sat on lavish gilded thrones under silk baldachins.

Thrones are set on daises or pedestals to place the monarch above everyone else in the room. Steps leading up to the throne further establish the ruler’s supremacy. The throne room is considered the most important chamber in a royal residence or palace. Historical thrones remain prized national treasures and symbols of governance today.

Coats of Arms

Coats of arms are heraldic symbols that represent royal lineage. Kings and queens inherit their coat of arms which serves as the official emblem of their dynastic house. Coats of arms are depicted on royal banners, clothing, documents, architecture and other possessions.

Royal coats of arms take the form of a shield or escutcheon. The shield is divided into sections displaying arranged symbols, figures and colors meaningful to the family. Common heraldic elements include lions, eagles, crowns, castles, mythical beasts, crosses and plants. Mottoes are sometimes featured on scrolls beneath the shield.

When shown together, the coat of arms of the king and queen represent unity. Their heir will eventually inherit a combined version of the arms. Coats of arms may evolve over generations as families merge through marriage or conquest. These emblems help identify and distinguish royal houses across kingdoms and domains.

Royal Colors

The use of certain colors has long conveyed royal status. In western kingdoms purple and scarlet shades were once exclusive to royalty. Purple dyes were rare and expensive for many centuries so they became associated with emperors and kings. Red hues like crimson and scarlet signified the wielding of power and authority.

Royal colors had significance in eastern cultures as well. Yellow was reserved for Chinese emperors because it symbolized divinity and power. Persian kings favored blue which represented heaven. Green was the color of choice for Fatimid caliphs due to its relation to nature and life.

Over time sumptuary laws restricting color use faded so these associations are not as strong today. Yet many monarchs continue incorporating purple, red, gold or other meaningful colors into their national flags, uniforms, sashes and medals. Certain colors help establish cultural identity and heritage.

Flags and Standards

Flags and royal standards represent sovereignty and loyalty to the crown. Unique flags were flown over palaces whenever monarchs were in residence. Personal standards identified the king or queen and their coat of arms on battlefields. These visible symbols served as rallying points during conflict.

Royal banners are still flown above Buckingham Palace signifying Queen Elizabeth II is there. The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom features the queen’s coat of arms – a lion for England, unicorn for Scotland and harp for Northern Ireland. Other members of the royal family have their own standards.

The sovereign’s flag takes precedence above all other flags. Royal flags may incorporate symbols, mottoes, colors or creatures that reflect the nation’s history and values. Displaying them prominently shows allegiance to the ruling house and kingdom.


Certain animals have long been associated with European monarchies. The lion symbolizes courage, strength and sovereignty. The image of three lions has represented England since the 12th century. Unicorns are considered proud, untamable and elusive creatures. They have been part of Scottish heraldry since the 1300s.

Eagles imply power, control and protection. The double-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire signified dominion over east and west. The French monarchy adopted the fleur-de-lis symbol, often thought to represent the iris flower. Dragon and greyhound imagery is also common in British royalty.

Royals would hunt exotic animals like boars to display their mastery over nature. Menageries of wild beasts showed the breadth of a ruler’s collecting power. Animals both real and mythical continue featuring prominently in coats of arms, crests and other royal symbols across Europe.

Ceremonial Objects

Ceremonial objects used in coronations, investitures and formal court occasions reinforce imperial authority. Items like swords, rings, globes, robes, sashes and staves each have special significance. These artifacts are richly crafted from gold, silver and jewels and passed down through generations.

The monarch’s crown, scepter and orb or globe are presented during coronation rituals. Spurs symbolize knighthood and swords represent justice and military power. Rings denote continuity while robes and sashes show status. Each element contributes powerful symbolism to the sanctity of royalty.

After coronations these objects may be displayed at the Tower of London or Museum of London for public viewing. Seeing them helps people connect to the living history of the British monarchy. They provide tangible links to the past through their storied heritage.

Architecture and Art

The palaces, castles and cathedrals built under a monarch’s patronage reflect the prestige and supremacy of royalty. Their scale, opulence and grandeur convey sovereign might. Elaborate thrones and coats of arms adorn these structures, heralding dynastic lineage and divine right.

Imperial art likewise contains stately images of rulers, nobles and religious figures. Portraits show kings and queens in the finest attire with symbolic objects like crowns, globes and scepters. Tapestries, furniture and jewelry further represent wealth and power. The visual splendor bolsters notions of courtly society.

Architecture and art helped craft perceptions of royalty in the public eye. Magnificent palaces awed commoners with the kingdom’s strength. Skillful portraits conveyed integrity and wisdom. Even ruins and fragments retain symbolic importance to modern viewers and help tell the story of fallen empires.