A lot of Brits made special plans in the days leading up to Kate Middleton's April 2011 royal wedding to Prince William. The father of the bride, however, went above and beyond and commissioned a coat of arms for the whole Middleton family to mark the occasion.
Yes, Michael Middleton commissioned the heraldic design — calling upon Thomas Woodcock, Garter Principal King of Arms, from the College of Arms in the City of London — all for the royal sum of $6,100. According to BBC News, royal experts said the coat "marks the increased social status of [Kate's] parents and her potential as a future queen."
The coat of arms was unveiled on April 19, 2011, 10 days before Kate and William traded vows at Westminster Abbey. And Michael and Thomas thought out each design element. For starters, the coat of arms is shaped like an elaborate lozenge, a shape used for women. (The shield shape is reserved for men.) At Kate's suggestion, it bears three acorns sprigs, one for each of the Middleton children. The gold chevron in the middle pays tribute to Carole Middleton, Kate's mother since Carole's maiden name was Goldsmith. The white "chevronels" — i.e. the V-shapes above and below that gold chevron — signify the family's love of skiing in England's mountainous Lake District region.
And the tied ribbon at the top was an add-on to indicate Kate and her sister Pippa Middleton's status as then-unmarried women. As for the blue and red background, that's just to differentiate this coat of arms from an existing design. "With any new design of a coat of arms you have to make sure that the design is distinct not just in color but in the linear appearance," Thomas explained. "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 colors."
That version of the coat of arms, the one with the ribbon on top, was printed on the back of a souvenir royal wedding program. William's coat of arms, an ornate shield design with a lion and a unicorn, was printed on the front. Thomas said this heraldry was not "compulsory" for Kate, but as she was marrying into the royal family, she "[had] a need probably to use a coat of arms." He also said, however, that Kate could have been granted a design, but her dad wanted the whole family to use it. You do you, Mr. Middleton!
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