The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, or the Royal Arms for short, is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.
The Royal Arms we see today have evolved over nine centuries, since Richard 1st (the Lionheart) chose a shield of three lions to represent the three areas England, Normandy and Aquitaine – which were associated with the English crown.
The shield is quartered, depicting in the first and fourth quarters the three passant guardant lions of England; in the second, the rampant lion and double tressure flory-counterflory of Scotland; and in the third, a harp for Ireland. The crest is a statant guardant lion wearing the St Edward’s Crown, himself on another representation of that crown. The dexter supporter is a likewise crowned English lion; the sinister, a Scottish unicorn. According to legend a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast; therefore the heraldic unicorn is chained, as were both supporting unicorns in the Royal coat of arms of Scotland. In the greenery below, a thistle, Tudor Rose and shamrock are present, representing Scotland, England and Ireland respectively. The coat features both the motto of English monarchs, Dieu et mon droit (God and my right), and the motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qui mal y pense (shame upon him who thinks evil of it) on a representation of the Garter behind the shield. The final significant change occurred when Victoria became Queen in 1837. As a woman she could not succeed to the throne of Hanover, so the shield of pretence was omitted from her Arms. Apart from changes in the initials of the Sovereign, the Royal Arms have remained the same ever since.
The Royal arms were created in various mediums including, textile, wood, stone, plaster, cast iron, paint and glass. The earlier Arms were often painted on wooden panels, but by the eighteenth century they were more likely to be on canvas. They were often painted by local sign writers and very crude. However, Arms could also be of very fine and high-end craftsmanship, as this one is, particularly when they were specifically designed as part of new architectural schemes. This particular example is also large for its type.
A hugely pleasing find that would have been very expensive indeed to commission.