Last modified: 2021-08-25 by christopher oehler
Keywords: sweden | royal coat of arms | state arms | riksvapen | stora riksvapnet | lilla riksvapnet | crown: royal | crowns: 3 (yellow) | vasa sheaf |
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Greater state arms (stora riksvapnet)
Greater state arms developed since 15th Century, present design adopted in 1844,
Smaller state arms (lilla riksvapnet)
smaller state arms dating from 14th Century,
both confirmed in act of law 15 May 1908. Present act of law adopted in 1982 (1982:268).
The Bernadotte dynasty superimposes an inescutcheon
of the Vasa and Bernadotte families, impaled, over the traditional arms of Sweden
which are the gold lion on a blue and white striped field (the original medieval
arms of the Folkunga dynasty) quartered with the 14th century
three gold crowns on a blue field, the quarters divided
by a gold cross. (Literature: [lou81]).
John Andrew Lowe, 15 October 1995
The present Greater State Arms have had the same form since 1844, when King Oscar I, who had just succeded his father Carl XIV Johan (the former French Marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, also former Prince of Ponte Corvo), changed it back to the form it had had before the union with Norway (1814-1905). In the first years of union with Norway, the greater Swedish state arms were divided into three fields, the first for Sweden (the three crowns), the second for the Folkunga dynasty (lion on streams) and the third for Norway (lion with axe).
When the arms were changed back, Union Arms were also created. These looked like the Greater State Arms of Sweden but had the arms of Norway in the heraldic left half of the shield and two royal crowns on top of the shield. These arms were only to be used in matters regarding both of the two realms.
The first act of law on the state arms were issued in 1908 (before this, the state arms were changed by royal decrees). The only change made in 1908 was, that from then on the shield is only surrounded by the Order of the Seraphim, the highest ranking royal order of Sweden (while before 1908, the shield could be surrounded by all royal orders).
The Greater State Arms are also personal arms of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf.
Elias Granqvist, 8 July 2000
"A with a royal crown crowned shield azure with three open crowns or, placed two above one. The shield may be surrounded by the insignia of the Order of the Seraphim."
The royal crown upon the shield denotes royal worthiness. The royal crown is
also a sign for the state, which means that state activity carried on under a
certain symbol can have the royal crown in this symbol, as for instance the royal
crown can be found in the arms of the Customs Authority. State authorities and
civil service departments can also use the smaller state arms with addition of
special symbols denoting their activity, as in the arms of the Police, where the
three crowns-shield is accompanied by oak leaves and fasceses.
The state heraldist was quite right to reject this – as one may have expected from a
Swedish herald, he rightfully protected the dignity of the coat of arms, while
the national flag is to be freely used, even in such unusual uses as
long as it is treated with dignity and for the good purpose – quite
in the customs of the use of Swedish flag.
But, I just wanted to mention that some of us had pleasure of meeting Henrik at the Stockholm ICV - beside being a very learned heraldic expert he is also a nice and cheerful gentleman. I hope to meet him again some time.
Željko Heimer, 10 September 2009