Married gay couples can have coats of arms for first time in history
Organisation dating back to the Middle Ages brings its rules up to date
Thursday 08 May 2014
Married gay couples can now have their own coat of arms after archaic rules dating back hundreds of years were brought into the 21st Century.
The College of Arms, which has governed heraldry since 1484, updated its rules following the legalisation of same-sex marriages in March.
For the first time, married couples of the same sex can combine both partners’ existing coats of arms or create their own.
A statement from the College said the ruling aimed to “replicate as closely as possible the heraldic practice for married couples of different sex”.
The rule dictating that married women had to display their husband’s mark even if they had their own coat of arms already has also been removed.
Although coats of arms traditionally belong to the aristocracy and are passed down by birthright, they can also be granted by the College on request.
The Bercow coat of arms contains LGBT references including the rainbow flag. There is no fixed criteria for eligibility but honours from the Queen, military commissions, qualifications and charitable services are taken into account by heralds.
Sir Elton John was granted his own coat of arms in 1987 and reportedly worked with heralds to design it.
In line with the tradition of symbols representing an owner’s profession or background, Sir Elton’s crest includes piano keys and records.
The Spanish motto, “el tono es bueno”, combines a pun on the singer’s name with the translation “the tone is good”.
The new rules mean that if he marries his partner David Furnish, they will be able to create a shared design.
But same-sex coats of arms will not be the first time gay references have appeared in heraldry.
In 2011, Commons speaker John Bercow unveiled his own crest – complete with the LGBT rainbow and motto “all are equal”.
It was intended to highlight his role championing gay rights.
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