Crown (heraldry)

The coat of arms of Norway, with the royal crown displayed atop the escutcheon

A Crown is often an emblem of the sovereign state, a monarch's government, or items endorsed by it; see The Crown. Crowns may also be used by some republics.

A specific type of crown (or coronet for peerage in the British Isles) is employed in heraldry under strict rules. Indeed, some monarchies never had a physical crown, just a heraldic representation, as in the constitutional kingdom of Belgium.

Crowns are also often used as symbols of religious status or veneration, by divinities (or their representation such as a statue) or by their representatives, e.g. the Black Crown of the Karmapa Lama, sometimes used a model for wider use by devotees.

A crown can be a charge in a coat of arms, or set upon the shield to signify the status of its owner. So the royal crown which shows a Christian cross on a coat of arms means that his or her holder has power and direct protection from God; if you find crown of the Duke, the owner is not Duke necessarily rather someone who has received power and protection with its power. Crowns bearing bird feathers refer to ancient beliefs, according to which the birds had divine qualities like angels communicated with the worlds beyond the sky. In Italy there are rings that show the city walls used symbolically to remember the function that had the walls to protect the city. Thus the crown is a symbol of power and protection received from someone or something or means that the owner of the crown you show guarantees you power and protection.

As a display of rank

If the bearer of a coat of arms has the title of baron or higher (or hereditary knight in some countries), he or she may display a coronet of rank above the shield, usually below the helm in British heraldry, often above the crest (if any) in Continental heraldry.

In this case the appearance of the crown follows a strict set of rules. A royal coat of arms may display a royal crown such as that of Norway. Princely coats of arms display a princely crown and so on right down to the mural crown which is commonly displayed on coats of arms of towns and some republics. Other republics may use a so-called people's crown or omit the use of crowns altogether. The heraldic forms of crowns are often inspired by the actual appearance of the respective country's royal and princely crowns.

Ships and other units of some navies have a naval crown above the shield of their coats of arms.

Commonwealth usage

The coat of arms of the Barons Hawke displays a baronial coronet.

In formal English the word crown is reserved for the crown of a monarch whereas the word coronet is used for all other crowns, used by members of the Royal family and Peers.

In the peerage of the United Kingdom, the design of a coronet shows the rank of its owner, as in German, French and various other heraldic traditions. The coronet of a duke has eight strawberry leaves, that of a marquess has four strawberry leaves and four silver balls (known as "pearls", but not actually pearls), that of an earl has eight strawberry leaves and eight "pearls" raised on stalks, that of a viscount has sixteen "pearls", and that of a peerage baron or (in Scotland) lord of parliament has six "pearls". Between the 1930s and 2004, feudal barons in the baronage of Scotland were granted a chapeau or cap of maintenance as a rank insignia. This is placed between the shield and helmet in the same manner as a peers coronet. Since a person entitled to wear heraldic headgear customarily displays it in his coat of arms above the shield and below the helm and crest, this can provide a useful clue as to the owner of a given coat of arms.

Members of the British Royal Family have coronets on their coats of arms, and may wear them at coronations. They are according to regulations made by King Charles II in 1661 shortly after his return from exile in France (getting a taste for its lavish court style; Louis XIV started monumental work at Versailles that year) and Restoration, and vary depending upon the prince's relationship to the Monarch. Occasionally additional royal warrants vary the designs for individuals.

In Canadian heraldry, coronets are used to designate descent from United Empire Loyalists. A military coronet signifies ancestors who served in Loyalist regiments during the American Revolution, while a civil coronet is used by all others. The loyalist coronets are used only in heraldry, never worn.

King - St. Edward's Crown King - Crown of Scotland King - Imperial/Tudor Crown Emperor - Imperial Crown of India
Heir Apparent
Prince or Princess - brother, sister, son or daughter of a sovereign Prince or Princess - children of the Heir Apparent Prince or Princess - children of other sons of the Sovereign. Other grandchildren of the Sovereign.
Duke Marquess Earl Viscount
Peerage Baron/Lord of Parliament (Scotland) Feudal Baron (Scotland) Loyalists military coronet (Canadian) Loyalists civil coronet (Canadian)


Continental usages

Precisely because there are many traditions and more variation within some of these, there are a plethora of continental coronet types. Indeed, there are also some coronets for positions that do not exist, or do not entitle use of a coronet, in the Commonwealth tradition.

Such a case in French heraldry of the ancien regime, where coronets of rank did not come into use before the 16th century, is the vidame, whose coronet (illustrated) is a metal circle mounted with three visible crosses. (No physical headgear of this type is known.)

Helmets are often substitutes for coronets, and some coronets are worn only on a helmet.




Tsar Tsaritsa


Capital Department Capital[lower-alpha 1] Commune[lower-alpha 1]

Ancien Regime

King (after the 1500s) Dauphin of France Children of the sovereign
(fils de France )
Prince of the Blood
Duke and Peer of France Duke Marquis and Peer of France Marquis
Count and "Peer of France" Count Count (older) Viscount
Vidame Baron Knight's crown Knight's tortillon

Napoleonic Empire

(1st Empire)
(2nd Empire)
Prince Duke
Count Baron Knight Bonnet

July Monarchy

King of the


Georgian Royal Crown, also known as the "Iberian Crown"

German-speaking countries

Holy Roman Empire

Older Imperial Crown Newer Imperial Crown Oldest Crown of the King of the Romans Older Crown of the King of the Romans
Newer Crown of the King of the Romans Crown of the King of Bohemia Archducal hat Oldest Electoral hat
Older Electoral hat New Electoral hat & new Ducal hat Ducal hat of Styria Ducal crown
Princely hat Princely crown Crown of a Landgraf Crown of an heir to a duchy
Older crown of a Count Newer crown of a Count Older crown of a Baron/Freiherr Newer crown of a Baron/Freiherr
Older Crown of Nobility Newer Crown of Nobility


Prince of Liechtenstein


Mural crown of the coat of arms of Austria Mural crown of the State of Lower Austria

Austrian Empire

King of Bohemia Archducal crown (New) Archducal hat (Older) Ducal hat of Styria New Ducal hat Prince
Duke Marquess Count Viscount Baron Crown of Nobility


Volkskrone (People's Crown) Mural crown of the arms of the Berlin boroughs

German Empire

German State Crown Empress Crown Prince
King of Prussia King of Bavaria King of Württemberg




Holy Crown of Hungary


Province City Municipality

Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946)

King (crown of Savoy) Crown Prince (principe ereditario) Royal prince[lower-alpha 2] Prince of the blood
Duke Marquess Count Viscount
Baron Noble Hereditary Knight Patrician
Province City Municipality

Kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, Two Sicilies

King of Naples Heir to the throne (Duke of Calabria) Prince and princess

Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany

Other Italian states before 1861

Crown of San Marino Crown of Napoleonic Italy Iron Crown of Lombardy
Papal Tiara Doge of Venice Doge of Genoa

Low Countries


King Prince
(Members of the Royal House,
children of the Monarch)
(Members of the Royal House,
grandchildren of the Monarch)
(nobility, for titles granted after 1815)
Duke Marquess Count Count
(alternative style)
Viscount Baron Hereditary Knight


The older crowns are often still seen in the heraldry of older families.

(and princes of
the royal family)
(nobility, for titles granted after 1815)
(nobility, for titles granted during the ancien régime)
Marquess Count Count (older) Count (oldest)
Viscount Baron Baron (older) Hereditary Knight


Grand Duke



Poland and Lithuania

King (New) King (Older) Prince Nobleman

Portuguese-speaking countries


Capital (Lisbon) City Town Civil Parish
Administrative Region

Kingdom of Portugal (until 1910)

King Crown Prince Prince of Beira Infante Duke
Marquess Count Viscount Baron


Capital[lower-alpha 1] City[lower-alpha 1] Town[lower-alpha 1] Village[lower-alpha 1]

Empire of Brazil

Emperor Prince Imperial Prince Duke
Marquess Count Viscount Baron


Capital City Town Village

Former Kingdom of Romania

King (The Steel Crown of Romania)


Emperor crown of the grand duchy of Finland Monomakh Crown Prince
Count Baron Baron (alternative style) Crown of Nobility

Nordic countries


King Crown Prince Prince
(royal family)
Marquess Count Baron Crown of Nobility


During the Swedish reign, Swedish coronets were used. Crowns were used in the coats of arms of the historical provinces of Finland. For Finland Proper, Satakunta, Tavastia and Karelia, it was a ducal coronet, for others, a comital coronet. In 1917 with independence, the coat of arms of Finland was introduced with a Grand Ducal coronet, but it was soon removed, in 1920. Today, some cities use coronets, e.g. Pori has a mural crown and Vaasa a Crown of Nobility.

Ducal coronet
Comital coronet


Heraldic crown of the King Physical crown of the King Physical crown of the Queen Crown Prince Duke
Marquess Count Baron Crown of Nobility


King Crown Prince Duke
Count Baron Crown of Nobility


King of Yugoslavia

Spanish-speaking countries


King National arms design King Monarch's arms design King (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia) Crown Prince
Crown Prince (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia) Infante Infante (Aragon, Catalonia, Balearics, Valencia) Grandee of Spain
Duke Marquess Count Viscount
Baron Señor/Don (Lord) Hidalgo (Nobleman) Knight's burelete


Emperor (1st Empire)
Emperor (2nd Empire)

Non-European usages

Egypt before 1953

Khedive (-1914) and Sultan (1914-22)
King (1922-53)

Siam and Thailand

Great Crown of Victory of the Kings of Siam and Thailand
Phra Kiao (princely coronet, also the emblem of King Chulalongkorn)

Other examples

Imperial Crown of Ethiopia Royal Crown of Hawaii Crown of the Shah of Persia Crown of the Shah of Iran
American Coronet Royal Crown of Tahiti Royal Crown of Tonga Twig crown of the

Republic of the Congo


Catholic Church


Astral crown Camp crown Celestial crown Eastern crown
Mural crown Naval crown

As a charge

In heraldry, a charge is an image occupying the field of a coat of arms. Many coats of arms incorporate crowns as charges. One notable example of this lies in the Three Crowns of the arms of Sweden.

Additionally, many animal charges (frequently lions) and sometimes human heads also appear crowned. Animal charges gorged (collared) of an open coronet also occur, though far less frequently.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heraldic crowns.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 This standard has many exceptions.
  2. The dukes of Genoa were granted the privilege to use a crown of royal prince though they were only princes of the blood


  1. Boutell, Charles (1914). Fox-Davies, A.C., ed. Handbook to English Heraldry, The (11th ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. pp. 104–156.
  2. Ströhl, Hugo Gerard (1899). Heraldischer Atlas. Stuttgart.
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