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The Royal Standard of Scotland, also known as the Banner of the King of Scots or more commonly the Lion Rampant of Scotland, is the Scottish Royal Banner of Arms. As a state flag, the Royal Standard of Scotland differs from Scotland's national flag, The Saltire, in that its correct use is restricted by an Act of the Parliament of Scotland to only a few Great Officers of State who officially represent The Sovereign in Scotlandmarker. It is also used in an official capacity at Royal residences in Scotland when The Sovereign is not present.

The red Lion rampant, first used in 1222 during the reign of Alexander II, appears on a yellow background surrounded by a double border, itself having a motif of alternating heraldic lilies. As in the case of the Royal coat of arms of the ancient Kingdom of Scotland, a Royal banner consisting of this design alone was used by the King of Scots until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI acceded to the thrones of the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Ireland. Since 1603, the Lion Rampant of Scotland has been incorporated into in both the Royal arms and Royal banners of successive Scottish then British monarchs in order to symbolise Scotland, as can be seen today in the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom. Although now officially restricted to use by Royal representatives and at Royal residences, the Banner of the King of Scots continues to be one of Scotland's most recognisable symbols.


Displaying a red lion rampant, with blue tongue and claws, within a red double border on a yellow background, the design of the Royal Standard of Scotland is formally specified in heraldry as: Or, a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory counter-flory of the second, meaning: A gold (Or) background, whose principal symbol is a red (Gules) upright lion (lion rampant) with blue (Azure) claws and tongue (armed and langued), surrounded by a two lined border (tressure) decorated with opposing pairs of floral symbols (flory counter-flory) of the second colour specified in the blazon (Gules). Used as a house flag, its proportions are 5:4.


The Lion rampant is commonly thought to have been adopted in the early 12th century by William I "the Lion", but there is no evidence of its use as "the Arms of the Dominion of Scotland" before 1222, when it appeared upon the Great Seal of his son, Alexander II. However, it has been suggested that the Royal arms of Scotland were first devised by Malcolm III circa 1061, given that the central lion rampant motif is also used as a badge by Irish clans who claim a place in the Milesian genealogies, in common with Malcolm III. An earlier recorded Scottish Royal standard featured a dragon, which is known to have been used at the Battle of the Standardmarker in 1138 by David I.

Following the Union of the Crowns of the monarch of England and Scotland, in 1603, the Royal Standard of Scotland was incorporated into the Royal standards of successive Scottish and (following the Acts of Union in 1707) British monarchs, with all such Royal standards being quartered in order to include the banner of the arms of each individual realm. Since 1603, the Royal Standard of Scotland has appeared in both the first and fourth quadrants of the quartered Royal standard used in Scotland, whilst appearing only in the second quadrant of that used elsewhere.


Use at Royal residences

Today, the Royal Standard of Scotland is used officially at the Scottish Royal residences – the Palace of Holyroodhousemarker (Edinburghmarker) and Balmoral Castlemarker (Aberdeenshiremarker) – when Her Majesty The Queen is not in residence. (The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom used in Scotland being flown when The Sovereign is present.)

Use by Royal representatives

In the tradition of Scottish heraldry, use of the Royal Standard of Scotland is not restricted to The Sovereign. Several Great Officers of State who officially represent The Sovereign in Scotland are permitted to use the Royal Standard of Scotland, including; the First Minister of Scotland (as Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland), Lord Lieutenants within their respective Lieutenancies, the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotlandmarker, the Lord Lyon King of Arms and other lieutenants who may be specially appointed by The Sovereign.

Use by the Heir Apparent

A variation of the Royal Standard of Scotland is used by the heir apparent to the King of Scots, the Duke of Rothesay, whose personal Standard is the Royal Standard of Scotland defaced with an Azure coloured plain label of three points. The personal banner of the Duke of Rothesay also features the same, displayed upon an inner shield.

Legal status

As the personal banner of The Sovereign, use of the Royal Standard of Scotland is restricted under the Act of the Parliament of Scotland 1672 cap. 47 and 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 17, and any unauthorised use of such is an offence under the Act. In 1978 a St Albansmarker linen merchant, Denis Pamphilon, was fined £100 daily for usurpation of the standard on decorative bedspreads until he desisted, and both Rangers F.C. and the Scottish National Party have been admonished by the Court of the Lord Lyon for their improper and non-authorised use of the standard. Despite such action, the flag continues to feature on a variety of merchandise and souvenirs produced commercially for Scotland's economically important tourism industry.

On November 18, 2007, shortly after announcing his decision to retire as the 34th Lord Lyon, Robin Blair, in an interview given to the Sunday Post, was reported to have stated that "in 1935 King George V permitted people to wave small lion rampant flags as part of his silver jubilee celebrations. Subsequently this was regarded as allowing the use of hand-held flags on other occasions to express loyalty to the sovereign. Gradually people started to use this flag at sporting events, although this was not envisaged in 1935". Today the flag continues to be used unofficially as a second national flag of Scotland, particularly at sporting events.

Appearance in other Royal Standards

As well as forming the basis of the Standard of the heir apparent to the King of Scots, the Duke of Rothesay, (the title currently held by His Royal Highness, The Prince Charles), the Royal Standard of Scotland has since 1603 been a component of what is now styled the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom (both that version used exclusively in Scotland and that used elsewhere). It similarly appears in the Royal Standard of Canada, with the arms of Canada reflecting the royal symbols of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.File:Duke of Rothesay Standard.svg|The Standard of the Duke of Rothesay, viz the Royal Standard of Scotland defaced with a plain label of three points Azure.File:Royal Standard of the United Kingdom in Scotland.svg|The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom used in Scotland, featuring the Royal Standard of Scotland in the first and fourth quarters.File:Royal Standard of the United Kingdom.svg|The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom used outwith Scotland, featuring the Royal Standard of Scotland in the second quarter.File:Royal Standard of Canada.svg|The Royal Standard of Canada, featuring the Royal Standard of Scotland in the second quarter of the first two divisions.

National Flag of Scotland

In contrast to the Royal Standard, The Saltire, also known as the Cross of Saint Andrew or Saint Andrew's Cross, is the national flag of Scotland. The flag of Scotland's patron saint, Saint Andrew, it consists of a blue field with a white or silver diagonal cross reaching to its edges, blazoned Azure, a saltire Argent. Unlike the Lion Rampant, as a national flag, this is the correct flag for all Scots or Scottish corporate bodies to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and their Scottish nationality.

It is also flown from all Scottish Government buildings every day from 8 am until sunset, except on United Kingdommarker "national days" when the Saltire shall be lowered and replaced with the Union Flag.

See also


  1. Sir Thomas Innes of Learney. Scots heraldry: a practical handbook on the historical principles and modern application of the art and science. Clearfield Co; 2nd, Revised & Enl. edition (2000). ISBN 0806304782
  2. Patrick Fraser Tytler History of Scotland, Volume 2 William Tait, 1828. p.433
  3. The "Lion Rampant" Flag The Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved on 10 October 2008.
  4. Symbols of the Monarchy The Official Website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved on 28 August 2009.
  5. At Google Book Search
  6. The National geographic magazine, Volume 32. National Geographic Society, 1918. p.379
  7. The Royal Regiment of Scotland website "The new cap badge incorporates two of Scotland's most recognisable symbols, the Saltire and the Lion Rampant". Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  8. Daniel Cogné, Claire Boudreau, Auguste Vachon Genealogica & heraldica: proceedings of the 22nd International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Ottawa, August 18-23, 1996. University of Ottawa Press, 1998. p.402, p.403
  9. Further Guidance on Flags The Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved on 10 August 2009
  10. George Pepper The Irish shield and monthly milesian, Volume 1 (Volume 937 of American periodical series, 1800-1850). s.n., 1829. p.316
  11. John O'Hart Irish Pedigrees: Or, The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation 5th Edition. J. Duffy and Co., 1892. p.772
  12. John Strong Perry Tatlock The legendary history of Britain: Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and its early vernacular versions University of California Press, 1950. p.329
  13. At Google Book Search
  14. Bruce A. McAndrew Scotland's historic heraldry Boydell Press, 2006. p.276 ISBN 1843832615
  15. Standards Website of The Prince of Wales. Retrieved on 28 August 2009.
  16. Groom, Nick (2006). The Union Jack: the Story of the British Flag, Atlantic Books, p.294. ISBN 1843543362.
  17. The Scottish Souvenir Shop - Products featuring the Lion Rampant ScotWeb - Products featuring the Lion Rampant
  18. The McGeachie Surname Forum Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  19. How Scottish fans fell out of love with Hampden and their team The Times. 29 March 2003. Retrieved 26 September 2009. "it was simply a takeover of north-west London by forests of yellow Lion Rampant flags".
  20. At Google Books
  21. The Flag of Her Majesty the Queen for personal use in Canada The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  22. Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Canadian Heritage. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  23. The Saltire The Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved on 10 October 2008.
  24. Flag guidance Scottish Government Website. Retrieved on 10 August 2009

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