Heraldic Crowns

Heraldic crowns signify the crown which is symbolic headgear worn by a monarch. It represents power, victory, triumph, honor, legitimacy, immortality, righteousness, and/or glory of life after death. They often contain jewels. As well as precious metals, they may be of flowers and leaves.

Others, besides royalty, wear traditional crowns

  • In Eastern Orthodox marriages, during the ”crowning”, the bride and groom are crowned as king and queen of their future household.

  • In Greek weddings, the crowns are diadems of white flowers and can be adorned with silver or mother of pearl. One is placed on the bride, another on the groom. The two are attached with white silk ribbon. The couple usually keep the crown as a momento and reminder of their wedding day.

  • Slavic weddings have crowns of ornate metal, resembling an Imperial Crown. The best men hold the crowns above the bride and groom’s heads. Due to the expense of the crowns, usually the parish owns one set which all couples married in the church wear.

  • Crowns can denote religious status, such as the Papal Crown.

  • Young ladies crowned the queen of an event or winner of a beauty pageant often wear a tiara, which is a type of crown.
The various types of crowns seen in heraldry and in real life ~
Blockade Crown ~ see Grass Crown.

Castle Crown ~ see Crown Mural.

Castle Crown Crenelated ~ a type of Mural Crown.

Ennery arms image courtesy NGW

Celestial Crown ~ heavenly reward.

Image courtesy Charles Boutell

Chaplet Crown ~ usually a garland or wreath.

Circlet Crown ~ has neither arches nor a cap (internal covering). Used in fairy tale illustrations to represent a crown.

Richard II of England Circlet image courtesy Wikipedia

Civic Crown ~ a wreath of oak with acorns. Originally a chaplet of leaves, awarded as the second highest military decoration. Reserved for men who saved fellow soldiers and held the ground. It became an automatic entry into the Roman Senate. The recipient was required by law to wear his crown at public gatherings, where he would be applauded. Eventually worn by the emporers.

Caesar Augustus Civic Crown image courtesy Wikipedia

Caesar Augustus Civic Crown image courtesy Wikipedia

Consort Crown ~ worn by the queen consort for her coronation and on state occasions. Usually designed uniquely for the consort and worn by no later consorts.

Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran
Consort Crown image courtesy Wikipedia

This example is of white gold and green velvet. The jewels are pearls, emeralds, rubies, spinels, and diamonds. Designed in 1967 for the Empress Farah Pahlav by Van Cleef and Arpels of Paris. It marked the first time an Iranian empress was crowned at her husband’s coronation.

Coronation Crown ~ worn by a monarch only for coronation, with a state or imperial crown for general wear at state ceremonies.

St. Edward of England Heraldic Coronation Crown
image courtesy Wikipedia

Worn by British royalty for the coronations, except for Queen Victoria and King Edward VII who wore a lighter Imperial State Crown.

Coronation Crown of King Christian IV of Denmark
image courtesy Wikipedia

Coronet ~ a small crown with fixed ornaments on a metal ring, with no arches. The design denotes the rank of the wearer.
  • A Duke wears a silver or gold circlet, chased (etched) to represent jewels, with eight strawberry leaves on the upper edge. Five of the leaves are two-dimensional, the others are in profile. The cap is crimson velvet lined with white taffeta and trimmed with ermine. A gold tassel is at the top.

    Duke Coronet image courtesy Wikipedia

  • A Ducal Coronet, or Ducal Crown, has no cap and shows only three leaves.
  • A Marquess has four strawberry leaves and four silver balls, called pearls, raised slightly on points above the rim. Three leaves and two balls are seen.

    Marquess Coronet image courtesy Wikipedia

  • An Earl has eight strawberry leaves, with four visible, and eight silver pearls raised on stalks, with five visible.

    Earl Coronet image courtesy Wikipedia

  • A Viscount has sixteen silver pearls touching one another, nine being seen.

    Viscount Coronet image courtesy Wikipedia

  • A Baron has a plain silver-gilt circlet with six silver pearls, four being visible.

    Baron Coronet image courtesy Wikipedia

Diadem ~ from the French diademmé, a plain fillet of metal worn as a badge of royalty and authority. Originally a white ribbon which ended in a knot with the ends hanging down on the shoulders.

Diodotus of Bactria Diademimage courtesy Wikipedia

It’s also a half crown, or modern tiara, worn on the forehead of women.

Ducal Crown ~ see Coronet

Grass Crown [Blockade Crown] ~ the highest and rarest of Roman military decorations. Given only to a general or commander who broke a blockade around the beleaguered army and saving a legion or the entire army. The crown would be woven on the spot of grasses, flowers, weeds, and grains such as wheat.

Crown of Immortality ~ first a laurel wreath, later a circle of stars, they appear in Baroque art symbolizing immortality.

Madonna in Glory by Carlo Dolci courtesy Wikipedia

Imperial Crown ~worn by the royalty for other state occasions beyond their coronation. This one was created for Rudolf II of the Austrian Empire.

Crown Imperial of Austria image courtesy Wikipedia

Mural Crown [Castle Crown] ~ Legend claims this crown was given to the first Roman soldier to achieve the walls of a besieged fortress and successfully plant the military standard. Usually a circle of gold, decorated with turrets to resemble a masoned battlement. The number of turrets came to be symbolic as well. One to three denotes a village, four to seven for a city or municipality.

Mural Crown Tower Designations image courtesy Wikipedia

In this next coat of arms, notice the border which is possibly wheat.

Castle Crown image courtesy Vector Graphics

Naval Crown ~ awarded to the one who first boarded an enemy's ship or a distinguished naval commander. Made of gold with four sterns of masted galleys on the upper edge, alternating with the full sails. In heraldry for naval vessels, the crown is mounted above the shield.

The Canadian ship Quebec displays a fleur-de-lis to honor the original French origins, maple leaf for Canada, the naval crown, and a roped border.

Quebec arms image courtesy Wikipedia

Crown Obsidional [Crown Triumphal] ~ a chaplet of grass and laurel or bay leaves

Crown Palisado ~ a crown with palisades. Also called Vallar or Vallary from the Latin vallus, signifying the palisade surmounting the vallum [wall, rampart]. This sometimes has a champaine border.

Papal Crown [Triple Crown, Tiara] ~ a high cap of three crowns, with a globe and a cross on the top, symbolizing his authority.

Papal Crown of Pope Paul VI image courtesy Wikipedia

Peacock Crown ~

Schaumburgergrund Austria coat of arms peacock crown image courtesy Vienna Government

Leliwa arms with peacock crown image courtesy Wikipedia

Prince's Crown ~ usually a Coronet

Crown of Rue ~ a barry of eight with sable. When a bend vert is added this becomes a Ducal Coronet in Bend or a Bend Archy Cornetty. Worn by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. As a side note, in Lithuania, when a young lady is about to loose her virginity she states her crown of rue is shaking.

Crown of Scotland ~ It’s the oldest crown in the British Isles and the second oldest in Europe. Remade in 1540 for the coronation of King James V of Scotland, a cap of velvet and ermine was added. Constructed mainly of Scottish gold, 22 gemstones and 20 precious stones and Scottish fresh water pearls. It’s part of the Honours of Scotland, along with a sceptre and sword of state. Since the first meeting of the modern Parliament in 1999, it is the Honours of Scotland are carried by the Duke of Hamilton, the hereditary bearer of the Crown of Scotland. He precedes The Queen. The procession is called the Riding of Parliament.

Honours of Scotland image courtesy Wikipedia

Tapisse Crown ~

Leliwa arms with peacock crown image courtesy
The Canadian Heraldry Authority

Tapisse is how wheat is shown in heraldry. There’s also ‘gouttee’ drops around the crown. These blue drops symbolize tears. But you can ignore symbolism and select any color you want.

On February 11, 2008 our Newsroom blogged a wheat-straw knit crown . The designer is Constance Willems Designs .

This just shows an old idea can be updated and used even today.

Crown of Thorns ~ adversity. Such a crown of woven of thorns, with the thorns being driven into Jesus’ head, was worn during His crucifixion.

Tiara ~ traditionally a high crown shaped into a narrow cylinder at the top. Often made of leather or fabric, they were heavily ornamented.

Tiara of Pope Innocent III, c. 1219
image courtesy Wikipedia

In contemporary settings, it’s usually a semi-circular band of metal, decorated with jewels and worn for adornment by beauty contest winners, brides, and others.

Tiara of the Duchess d’Angouleme
image courtesy Wikipedia

Triple Crown ~ see Papal Crown

Crown Triumphal ~ see Crown Obsidional

Wheat Crown ~ here’s another crown, designed to look like tapisse with fretty under the wheat, but it’s really of metal.

Image courtesy Vector Graphics

A Reception Decoration Idea

Calibex sells wall crowns for creating a drape as a headboard for the bedroom. Take a look, think about how you could duplicate one or more for decorating you head table at the reception. Using an heraldic half-crown, then draping tartan, or a lighter weight material in your wedding theme colors, could add a memorable Scottish heraldry touch.

If you formed your own half crown out of metallic polymer clay, you could add more Scottish motifs like thistles and Celtic knots to the design. Using the Tapisse tradition, you could also fashion one of wheat.

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