Flying the flag for Scotland

Or, a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory counter-flory of the second.

So reads the heraldic description of the Royal Banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland.  Known to you and me as “The Lion Rampant”. It has been the banner of the Kings of Scotland for centuries.

Its earliest recorded use as a royal emblem in Scotland was by Alexander II in 1222, with the border added in the reign of Alexander III (1249–1286). The lion rampant maintained its place as the royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of Scotland until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, since when it has been part of the royal arms and royal banners of the United Kingdom.

As befits a Royal Standard, its use is heavily restricted. It may only be used by the following Great Officers (who officially represent The Sovereign):

  • Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland (aka the First Minister);
  • Lord Lieutenants in their Lieutenancies;
  • Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland;
  • Lord Lyon King of Arms; and
  • other lieutenants (by special appointment).

Use by sports fans, other subjects and businesses is, in the words of the Lord Lyon “entirely wrong”. In fact, in terms of the Lyon King of Arms Act (1672 c.47) the unauthorised use of the lion rampant is an offence, punishable by a fine of £100 and forfeiture of the goods bearing the symbol.

And that whosoevir shall vse any other Armes any manner of way aftir the expireing of year and day from the date of the Proclamation to be issued herevpon in maner forsaid shall pay One Hundred pounds money toties quoties to the Lyon and shall likewayes escheat to his Maiestie all the moveable Goods and Geir vpon which the saids Armes are engraven or otherwise represented ..

It appears that such a fine can be levied daily while the offence continues, and that both Rangers FC and the Scottish National Party have been told off by the Lord Lyon for misuse of the lion rampant in the past.

Therefore, this blog post is illustrated with the Saltire, which is not subject to such restrictions.

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This entry was posted in Criminal Law, From the Archives, Scottish Government and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Flying the flag for Scotland

  1. Alba Core says:

    Are you sure? A charity I was once tangentially involved in got a polite but firm letter from the Procurator Fiscal to the Court of the Lord Lyon for having had the effrontery to design a logo with the saltire as its background. Quite a lot of stationery had to be thrown away …

    • In short, I’m not sure. The website of the Court of the Lord Lyon states of the Saltire “this is the correct flag for all Scots or Scottish corporate bodies to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and their Scottish nationality.” I think there may be a more general thing about using heraldic designs for logos etc.?

  2. Pingback: Season of tiffs & mellow fruitiness… – Scottish Roundup

  3. Sandy Jamieson says:

    I’m looking at the Blue on The Saltire. I’ve seen it in two different shades and am unsure what is the correct shade/pantone. Railway people will understand when I ask, is it St.Rollox Blue or Perth Blue?

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