The Lion Rampant

In addition to the national flag of Scotland, known as the Flag of St. Andrew (or the Saltire), a second flag of Scotland exists. It flies over Balmoral Castle and Holyrood Palace, but only when the monarch is not in residence: The Royal Standard of Scotland is also known as the Lion Rampant.

On a gold field and framed by a red double tressure flory counter-flory, the red lion rampant with its blue tongue and claws is aggressively confrontational on its hind legs, one of them also appearing to rise with forelegs extended, ready to strike.

Lion Rampant
According to a register in the College of Arms in London, King William I of Scotland, the Kyng of Scotz (1165-1214), first introduced the fearsome figure to his battle standard and coat of arms. Interestingly, he and some of his descendants may possibly have been accompanied by a real lion while in residence at the castles Stirling and Edinburgh, for indeed, both have buildings within the castle walls that are called “the Lion’s Den”.

As well as adopting the Lion Rampant as the royal coat of arms, it was incorporated into the Great Seal of Scotland and used on all official documents. As the personal banner of the Crown, its use is restricted under a 1672 act of Parliament, The Lyon King of Arms Act. It may be used lawfully only by the monarch, by the Royal Regiment, on state occasions, and by a handful of the monarch’s official representatives.

Lion Rampant Flying
Since then, however, a Royal Warrant has been issued allowing it to be used, under certain circumstances, as a token of loyalty to the Crown. When official Scots teams are playing, hand-held banners fill the stands at soccer matches. It may also be hung from private homes and businesses. But there are limits. Even today, unlawfully using the Royal Coat of Arms can result in heavy fines: in 1978, linen merchant Denis Pamphilon was fined £100 daily until he stopped using the standard on decorative bedspreads.

The Royal Coat of Arms, as it was designed, is associated with the latin motto “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which means “no one attacks me with impunity.” In Scots, it reads, “Wha daur meddle wi’ me?” The Lion Rampant is an ancient and enduring symbol of bravery, valor, strength, and loyalty, and a banner as meaningful to Scots today as it was in the twelfth century.

–Carol Frome

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