Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kate Middleton gets her very own coat of arms in time for Royal Wedding (and handily it can be used for the family business too)

By Richard Hartley-parkinson

Garter Principal King of Arms and Senior Herald in England, Thomas Woodcock unveils the new Coat of Arms for Kate Middleton's family

Kate Middleton today joined the ranks of nobility as her very own coat of arms was unveiled... and that could prove profitable for the family business.

The growing social status of the bride-to-be's parents has been reflected in the new insignia which will feature on the Royal Wedding souvenir programme.

In a canny move by her father, Michael Middleton, Kate's family will all be able to use the crest 'as he sees fit' including for their Party Pieces business as it was he who commissioned it.

The design released today incorporates an acorn sprig - one for each of the Middletons' three children - an idea suggested by Kate.

Kate Middleton's new coat of arms was unveiled yesterday, left, and it will appear on the back of the souvenir programme while William's will be on the front

The oak tree is a traditional symbol of England and strength, and is a feature of west Berkshire where the family have lived for more than 30 years.

At the centre of the coat of arms is an inverted 'v' or chevron coloured gold which represents Kate's mother Carole Middleton whose maiden name was Goldsmith.

Above and below this feature are white chevronels to symbolise peaks and mountains, reflecting the family's love of the Lake District and skiing.

But there are no references to the ancestors of the Middletons, made millionaires by their successful mail order business Party Pieces.

The forebears of Michael, an ex-flight dispatcher, feature successful Leeds solicitors, while his wife, a former air hostess, is descended from a long line of labourers, carpenters and Durham coal miners.

Herald painter Robert Parsons sketches the new Coat of Arms, unveiled today

The cover sheet of the souvenir Royal Wedding programme

The design can be used by the Middletons howsoever they wish and if someone else uses it they can sue them at the Court of Chivalry which, apart from a case in 1954, hasn't been convened since 1732.

Thomas Woodcock, Garter Principal King of Arms, from the College of Arms in the City of London, sat down with Kate's parents to create the design which cost £4,400.

He said: 'It's not compulsory but as their daughter is marrying into the Royal Family she will have a need probably to use a coat of arms.'

He added that Miss Middleton could have been granted her own heraldic design but her father commissioned the College in his name so all the family could use it.

Mr Woodcock added: 'The Middleton family particularly wanted acorns or oak and I think Catherine Middleton in particular was responsible for the idea of these oak sprigs.

'The idea is that great trees grow from small acorns and the part of Berkshire in which the Middletons brought up their children there are a great many oak trees so it's something they associate with the upbringing of their children.

'And in the centre you have what is known as a chevron and that has been made gold as Catherine Middleton's mother's maiden name was Goldsmith - so that's a suitable reference to her in the centre of the family.'

A version of the coat and arms which can only be used by Kate or her sister Pippa, as it denotes a Middleton spinster, will be printed on the back of the souvenir programme while William's will be on the front.

The booklet will include the wedding order of service and be available on the day of the nuptials.

Sketch: The coat of arms reflects many aspects of the life of the Middleton family

Three acorns: Kate came up with the idea to have her sister, Pippa, and brother, James reflected in the crest

Michael Middleton commissioned the crest, reportedly costing £4,400

Kate's heraldic design features a tied ribbon to show she is an unmarried woman and the overall shape is an elaborate lozenge - a shield would be used for Middleton men.

But Kate will only be able to use the coat of arms on letter headings and other items up until her wedding day on April 29.

Following the Westminster Abbey ceremony, the coat of arms of William and his fiancee will be combined - something known as 'impaled arms'.

Looking at the shield, the Prince's heraldic design will fill the left hand side and Kate's will be on the right.

Mr Woodcock added: 'With any new design of a coat of arms you have to make sure that the design is distinct not just in colour but in the linear appearance and as there is a 16th century coat of arms with a chevron between three sprigs of oak we've made the differences - dividing the background colours.'

Regent Street: One of the main shopping streets in London has had Union Jacks all the way along the road

The unveiling of the coat of arms is among the final preparations being made across the country ahead of the royal wedding

Security is tight around central London ahead of the big day with detailed searches being carried out along the route of the wedding procession

Red and blue were chosen as the Garter Principal knew Kate's coat of arms would have to be combined with William's, which feature the same shades, and the colours needed to complement each other.

Kate's brother James will be able to pass down the coat of arms to his children but Pippa, as a woman, will not but she can use it during her lifetime.

The formal legal document granting Mr Middleton his coat of arms is written on vellum parchment decorated by a herald painter with the text written by a scrivener.


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