UK royal arms : ditch the harp?

vx-uk-shieldDespite the fact that most of Ireland left the UK in 1922, and became a republic in 1949, the British royal arms still uses the arms of Ireland (Azure, a harp Or stringed Argent), presumably on the grounds that it represents Northern Ireland; but perhaps also because of a conservative resistence to change (also seen in resistence to changing the UK flag if Scotland becomes independent).
But does it make sense to use the arms of the Irish nation to represent an entity which consists of only six of the nine counties of one of the four provinces of Ireland? Does it make sense when the reason for Northern Ireland’s existence is that its unionist majority wanted to be British rather than Irish? Would it not be more sensible to replace the Irish harp with something specific to Northern Ireland, and leave the harp to the republic?
The question is : what should replace the harp for Northern Ireland? The obvious place to go for arms is to the province of Ulster.
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The arms of Ulster

The ancient symbol of Ulster is the famous Red Hand of O’Neill, which dates back to pagan times. In the 13th century this was placed on a white shield on the red cross on yellow of Walter de Burgh, who had become Earl of Ulster. This remains the arms of the whole province (nine counties). 

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Northern Ireland government arms, pre-1972
The government of Northern Ireland which existed until 1972 used the hand on a six-pointed star (for the six counties) ensigned by a royal crown and placed on a St.George’s cross (red on white). The banner of these arms are still used (unofficially) as a flag of Northern Ireland today, but it is particularly associated with unionism (the English cross and royal crown are not exactly popular with nationalists!). What is needed now is something which is acceptable to the whole community.
The traditional arms of Ulster seem the obvious starting point, but they need to be modified to represent the six counties, instead of the whole province. Since the six-pointed star is fairly sectarian, another alternative would be to use a hexagon. The six sides still represent the six counties, but the shape also alludes to the basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway, a spectacular and thoroughly non-sectarian natural site in Northern Ireland.

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Northern Ireland: coat of arms idea

Giant’s Causeway, with its hexagonal columns

The would give us a nice, completely red-and-gold, royal coat of arms, with or without Wales:

vx-uk-nowales-altni vx-uk-wales-altni

And if Scotland leaves the union:

vx-uk-noscot-altni

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Copyright © 2014 Vexaldry,
except the image of the pre-1972 Northern Ireland arms is from Wikipedia by Adelbrecht, and the image of Giant’s Causeway is from Wikipedia by Chmee2; both reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

2 responses to “UK royal arms : ditch the harp?

  1. These look really good. One small question though if the second option, i.e. including Wales, was used should the positions of Wales and NI be reversed? Wales is larger and is a country rather than a province.

    Like

    • Logically, you’re correct, which is why I put Wales in the second quarter in the no-Scotland arms.

      My only reason for leaving Northern Ireland in the third quarter of the four-nations version was aesthetic. I think it’s more balanced than having the two solid yellow-backgrounded quarters on the same side of the shield.

      Like

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