Crown (heraldry)

A crown is often an emblem of a sovereign state, usually a monarchy (see The Crown), but also used by some republics.

The coat of arms of Norway, with the royal crown displayed atop the escutcheon

A specific type of crown is employed in heraldry under strict rules. Indeed, some monarchies never had a physical crown, just a heraldic representation, as in the constitutional kingdom of Belgium.

Crowns are also often used as symbols of religious status or veneration, by divinities (or their representation such as a statue) or by their representatives, e.g. the Black Crown of the Karmapa Lama, sometimes used a model for wider use by devotees.

A crown can be a charge in a coat of arms, or set atop the shield to signify the status of its owner, as with the coat of arms of Norway.

Physical and heraldic crownsEdit

Sometimes, the crown commonly depicted and used in heraldry differs significantly from any specific physical crown that may be used by a monarchy.

As a display of rankEdit

If the bearer of a coat of arms has the title of baron or higher (or hereditary knight in some countries), he or she may display a coronet of rank above the shield, usually below the helm in British heraldry, and often above the crest (if any) in Continental heraldry.

In this case, the appearance of the crown or coronet follows a strict set of rules. A royal coat of arms may display a royal crown, such as that of Norway. A princely coat of arms may display a princely crown, and so on.

Naval, civic, mural and similar crownsEdit

A mural crown is commonly displayed on coats of arms of towns and some republics. Other republics may use a so-called people's crown or omit the use of a crown altogether. The heraldic forms of crowns are often inspired by the physical appearance of the respective country's actual royal or princely crowns.

Ships and other units of some navies have a naval crown, composed of the sails and sterns of ships, above the shield of their coats of arms. Squadrons of some air forces have an astral crown, composed of wings and stars. There is also the Eastern crown, made up of spikes, and when each spike is topped with a star, it becomes a celestial crown.[1]

Whereas most county councils in England use mural crowns, there is a special type of crown that was used by Scottish county councils. It was composed of spikes, was normally shown vert (green) and had golden wheat sheaves between the spikes.[2] Today, most of the Scottish unitary authorities still use this "wheat sheaf crown", but it is now the usual gold.

Commonwealth usageEdit

The coat of arms of the Barons Hawke displays a baronial coronet

In formal English, the word crown is reserved for the crown of a monarch and the Queen consort, whereas the word coronet is used for all other crowns used by members of the British royal family and peers of the realm.

In the British peerage, the design of a coronet shows the rank of its owner, as in German, French and various other heraldic traditions. The coronet of a duke has eight strawberry leaves, that of a marquess has four strawberry leaves and four silver balls (known as "pearls", but not actually pearls), that of an earl has eight strawberry leaves and eight "pearls" raised on stalks, that of a viscount has sixteen "pearls", and that of a peerage baron or (in Scotland) lord of parliament has six "pearls". Between the 1930s and 2004, feudal barons in the baronage of Scotland were granted a chapeau or cap of maintenance as a rank insignia.[citation needed] This is placed between the shield and helmet in the same manner as a peer's coronet. Since a person entitled to heraldic headgear customarily displays it above the shield and below the helm and crest, this can provide a useful clue as to the owner of a given coat of arms.

Members of the British royal family have coronets on their coats of arms, and they may wear physical versions at coronations. They are according to regulations made by King Charles II in 1661, shortly after his return from exile in France (getting a taste for its lavish court style; Louis XIV started monumental work at Versailles that year) and Restoration, and they vary depending upon the holder's relationship to the monarch. Occasionally, additional royal warrants vary the designs for individuals.

In Canadian heraldry, special coronets are used to designate descent from United Empire Loyalists. A military coronet signifies ancestors who served in Loyalist regiments during the American Revolution, while a civil coronet is used by all others. The loyalist coronets are used only in heraldry, never worn.


Continental usagesEdit

Precisely because there are many traditions and more variation within some of these, there are a plethora of continental coronet types. Indeed, there are also some coronets for positions that do not exist, or do not entitle use of a coronet, in the Commonwealth tradition.

Such a case in French heraldry of the Ancien Régime, where coronets of rank did not come into use before the 16th century, is the vidame, whose coronet (illustrated) is a metal circle mounted with three visible crosses. (No physical headgear of this type is known.)

Helmets are often substitutes for coronets, and some coronets are worn only on a helmet.




  Tsar   Tsaritsa   Prince   Older Princesses   Younger Princesses


  Capital   Department Capital[b]   Commune[b]

Ancien RégimeEdit

  King   Heir to the throne (Dauphin)   Children and grandchildren of the sovereign
(Fils de France)
  Prince of the Blood
  Duke and Peer of France   Duke   Marquis and Peer of France   Marquis
  Count and Peer of France   Count   Count (older)   Viscount
  Vidame   Baron   Knight's crown   Knight's tortillon

Napoleonic EmpireEdit

(1st Empire)
(2nd Empire)
  Prince   Duke
  Count   Baron   Knight  

July MonarchyEdit

  King of the


  Georgian Royal Crown, also known as the "Iberian Crown"

German-speaking countriesEdit

Holy Roman EmpireEdit

  Older Imperial Crown   Newer Imperial Crown   Oldest Crown of the King of the Romans   Older Crown of the King of the Romans
  Newer Crown of the King of the Romans   Crown of the King of Bohemia   Archducal hat   Ducal hat of Styria
  Oldest Electoral hat   Older Electoral hat   New Electoral hat & new Ducal hat   Ducal crown
  Crown of an heir to a duchy   Princely hat   Princely crown   Crown of a Landgrave
  Older crown of a Count   Newer crown of a Count   Older crown of a Baron/Freiherr   Newer crown of a Baron/Freiherr
  Older Crown of Nobility   Newer Crown of Nobility


  Prince of Liechtenstein


  Mural crown of the coat of arms of Austria   Mural crown of the State of Lower Austria

Austrian Empire

  Crown of the Emperor of Austria   Crown of the King of Bohemia   Archducal hat   Archducal crown
  Ducal hat of Styria   Ducal hat   Ducal crown   Princely hat
  Princely crown   Crown of a Count   Crown of a Baron/Freiherr   Crown of Nobility


  Volkskrone (People's Crown)   Mural crown of the arms of the Berlin boroughs

German Empire

  Crown of the German Emperor   Crown of the German Empress   Crown of the German Crown Prince
  Crown of the King of Prussia   Crown of the King of Bavaria   Crown of the King of Württemberg


  Crown of the King of the Hellenes   The Crown as it appears on the Royal Coat of Arms of Greece


  Holy Crown of Hungary


  Crown of Zvonimir


  Province   City   Municipality

Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946)Edit

  King (crown of Savoy)   Heir to the throne (Prince of Piedmont)   Royal prince[c]   Prince of the blood
  Duke   Marquess   Count   Viscount
  Baron   Noble   Hereditary Knight   Patrician
  Province   City   Municipality

Kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, Two SiciliesEdit

  King of Naples   Heir to the throne (Duke of Calabria)   Prince and princess

Grand Duchy of TuscanyEdit

  Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany   Habsburg-Lorraine Grand Dukes of Tuscany

Other Italian states before 1861Edit

  Crown of San Marino   Crown of Napoleonic Italy   Iron Crown of Lombardy   Papal Tiara   Doge of Venice   Doge of Genoa   Duke of Parma

Low CountriesEdit


  Holy Roman Emperor
  King   Prince
(Members of the Royal House,
children of the Monarch)
(Members of the Royal House,
grandchildren of the Monarch)
(nobility, for titles granted after 1815)
  Duke   Marquess   Count   Count
(alternative style)
  Viscount   Baron   Hereditary Knight


The older crowns are often still seen in the heraldry of older families.

  King  Prince of the Royal house   Prince
(nobility, for titles granted after 1815)
(nobility, for titles granted during the Ancien Régime)
  Duke   Marquess   Count   Count (older)
  Count (oldest)   Viscount   Baron   Baron (older)
  Hereditary Knight


  Grand Duke



Poland and LithuaniaEdit

  King   Grand Duke   Prince   Nobleman

Portuguese-speaking countriesEdit


  Capital city (Lisbon)   City   Town   Civil Parish
  Overseas province

Kingdom of Portugal (until 1910)

  King   Heir to the throne (Prince Royal)   Prince of Beira   Infante   Duke
  Marquess   Count   Viscount   Baron   Knight / Fidalgo


Capital of State of the Federation[b] City[b] Town[b] Village[b]

Empire of Brazil

  Emperor   Heir to the throne (Prince Imperial)   Prince of Grão-Pará   Prince   Duke
  Marquess   Count   Viscount   Baron


Capital City Town Village

Kingdom of RomaniaEdit

  King (The Steel Crown of Romania)


  Emperor   Crown of the Grand Duchy of Finland   Monomakh's Cap   Prince
  Count   Baron   Baron (alternative style)   Crown of Nobility

Nordic countriesEdit


  King   Crown Prince   Prince (royal family)   Duke
  Marquess   Count   Baron   Crown of Nobility


During the Swedish reign, Swedish coronets were used. Crowns were used in the coats of arms of the historical provinces of Finland. For Finland Proper, Satakunta, Tavastia and Karelia, it was a ducal coronet, for others, a comital coronet. In 1917 with independence, the coat of arms of Finland was introduced with a grand ducal crown, but it was soon removed, in 1920. Today, some cities use coronets, e.g. Pori has a mural crown and Vaasa a Crown of Nobility.

Generic grand ducal crown

used in late 19th to early 20th c.

Grand ducal crown used in

the state coat of arms in 1917-1920.

Ducal coronet
Comital coronet
Mural crown


Heraldic crown of the King
Physical crown of the King
Physical crown of the Queen
  Crown Prince   Prince or Princess   Duke   Marquess
  Count   Baron   Crown of Nobility


  King/Queen   Crown Prince/Crown Princess   Prince/Princess (aka Duke/Duchess)
  Count/Countess   Baron/Baroness   Untitled Nobility


  King (medieval)   King (after 1903)

Spanish-speaking countriesEdit


  King (National arms design)   King (Monarch's arms design)   King (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia)   Heir to the throne (Prince of Asturias)
  Heir to the throne (Prince of Girona) (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia)   Infante   Infante (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia)   Grandee of Spain
  Duke   Marquess   Count   Viscount
  Baron   Señor/Don (Lord)   Hidalgo (Nobleman)   Knight's burelete


  Emperor (1st Empire)
  Emperor (2nd Empire)
  Prince (1st Empire and 2nd Empire)


  Municipal Mural Crown
  Royal Crown of Easter Island

Non-European usagesEdit




  'Raven Crown' of the Kingdom of Bhutan


  Crown of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Central African EmpireEdit




Egypt before 1953Edit

  Khedive (-1914) and Sultan (1914-22)
  King (1922-53)


  Crown of Jordan


  Heraldic Crown of Morocco


  Crown of Oman

Siam and ThailandEdit

  Great Crown of Victory of the Kings of Siam and Thailand
  Phra Kiao (princely coronet, also the emblem of King Chulalongkorn)


  Crown of Tonga

Other examplesEdit

  Imperial Crown of Ethiopia   Royal Crown of Tahiti   Royal Crown of Hawaii
  Crown of the Shah of Persia   Crown of the Shah of Iran  
Twig crown of the
Republic of the Congo


Ecclesiastical HatsEdit

Anglican CommunionEdit

Catholic ChurchEdit

Eastern Orthodox ChurchEdit


  Astral crown   Camp crown   Celestial crown   Eastern crown
  Mural crown   Naval crown

As a chargeEdit

In heraldry, a charge is an image occupying the field of a coat of arms. Many coats of arms incorporate crowns as charges. One notable example of this lies in the Three Crowns of the arms of Sweden.

Additionally, many animal charges (frequently lions and eagles) and sometimes human heads also appear crowned. Animal charges gorged (collared) of an open coronet also occur, though far less frequently.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Currently, besides the grandchildren of the present King Charles III, the living grandchildren of a former sovereign are granted the privilege to use the crown of a Sovereign's Grandchild.
  2. ^ a b c d e f This standard has many exceptions.
  3. ^ The dukes of Genoa were granted the privilege to use the crown of a royal prince though they were only princes of the blood


  1. ^ Mackinnon of Dunakin, Charles (1968). The Observer's Book of Heraldry. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. p. 73.
  2. ^ Moncreiffe, Iain; Pottinger, Don (1953). Simple Heraldry Cheerfully Illustrated. Thomas Nelson and Sons. p. 58.
  3. ^ Cox, Noel The Coronets of Members of the Royal Family and of the Peerage. Archived 2018-01-04 at the Wayback Machine Originally published in (1999) 22 The Double Tressure, the Journal of The Heraldry Society of Scotland 8-13. Acceded 8 April 2017
  4. ^ Boutell, Charles (1914). Fox-Davies, A.C. (ed.). Handbook to English Heraldry, The (11th ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. pp. 104–156.
  5. ^ Ströhl, Hugo Gerard (1899). Heraldischer Atlas. Stuttgart.