How Duchess Meghan’s new coat of arms breaks royal tradition

A very special coat of arms has been created for Duchess Meghan after her wedding to Prince Harry.

“The design of the arms was agreed and approved by Her Majesty The Queen and Mr. Thomas Woodcock (Garter King of Arms and Senior Herald in England), who is based at the College of Arms in London,” Kensington Palace said in a statement on Friday, May 25.​


The decision to give Meghan (née Markle) her own coat of arms breaks royal tradition as it is typically given to the father of the bride, but Thomas Markle was unable to attend his daughter’s May 19 nuptials due to a recent heart surgery. It also does not include the Markle family name. (Duchess Kate’s coat of arms honored the Middleton family name as well as her mother Carole’s maiden name, Goldsmith.)

The palace said that Meghan, 36, worked closely with the College of Arms to ensure that the design was both personal and representative. The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific ocean off the coast of her home state of California. It also features two golden rays to symbolize sunshine, in addition to golden poppies, the official state flower.

The coat of arms also includes wintersweet (which grow at Kensington Palace), a songbird with elevated wings and an open beak as well as three quills, the latter of which represent the power of communication. Both poppies and wintersweet were stitched onto the Suits alum’s wedding veil, in addition to ones from each of the 53 counties in the Commonwealth.

Meghan has also been assigned a coronet.

“The Duchess of Sussex took a great interest in the design,” Woodcock said in a statement. “Good heraldic design is nearly always simple and the arms of the Duchess of Sussex stand well beside the historic beauty of the quartered British Royal Arms. Heraldry as a means of identification has flourished in Europe for almost nine hundred years and is associated with both individual people and great corporate bodies such as cities, universities and for instance the livery companies in the city of London.”