Great Seal of the Realm

Great Seal of the Realm

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The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom (prior to the Treaty of Union the Great Seal of England, then until the Union of 1801 the Great Seal of Great Britain) is a seal
Seal (device)
A seal can be a figure impressed in wax, clay, or some other medium, or embossed on paper, with the purpose of authenticating a document ; but the term can also mean the device for making such impressions, being essentially a mould with the mirror image of the design carved in sunken- relief or...

 that is used to symbolise the Sovereign
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

's approval of important state documents. Sealing wax
Sealing wax
Sealing wax is a wax material of a seal which, after melting, quickly hardens forming a bond that is difficult to separate without noticeable tampering. Wax is used to verify something such as a document is unopened, to verify the sender's identity, for example with a signet ring, and as decoration...

 is melt
Melt
Melt can refer to:* Melting, in physics, the process of heating a solid substance to a liquid*Melt , the semi-liquid material used in steelmaking and glassblowing*Melt inclusions, a feature of igneous rock...

ed in a metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

 mould or matrix and impressed into a wax figure that is attached by cord or ribbon
Ribbon
A ribbon or riband is a thin band of material, typically cloth but also plastic or sometimes metal, used primarily for binding and tying. Cloth ribbons, most commonly silk, are often used in connection with clothing, but are also applied for innumerable useful, ornamental and symbolic purposes...

 to documents that the monarch wishes to make official.

History


Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

 sometime before 1066 started using a Great Seal casting in wax of his own visage to signify that a document carried the force of his will. With some exceptions, each subsequent British monarch has chosen his or her own design for the Great Seal.
When opening Parliament, on 3 September 1654, Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 was escorted by the three Commissioners of the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of England, Whitelock, Lisle, and Widdrington. This Seal was inscribed with 'The Great Seal of England, 1648', displaying the map of England, Ireland, Jersey, and Guernsey on one side, with the Arms of England and Ireland. On the other side was shown the interior of the House of Commons, the Speaker in the chair, with the inscription, 'In the first year of Freedom, by God's blessing restored, 1648.'
In 1655, Cromwell appointed three Commissioners of the Great Seal of Ireland, Richard Pepys
Richard Pepys
Sir Richard Pepys was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1640 and was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He was a cousin of the father of Samuel Pepys the diarist....

, Chief Justice of the Upper Bench, Sir Gerard Lowther, Chief Justice of the Common Bench; and Miles Corbet
Miles Corbet
Miles Corbet was an English politician, recorder of Yarmouth and Regicide.-Life:He was the son of Sir Thomas Corbet of Sprowston, Norfolk and the younger brother of Sir John Corbet, 1st Baronet, MP for Great Yarmouth from 1625 to 1629...

, Chief Baron of the Exchequer. But they held the seal only until 1656, when Cromwell nominated William Steele
William Steele
William Steele was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1654. He was Lord Chancellor of Ireland....

, Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer in England, Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

In 1688, before attempting to flee to France, James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 is said to have thrown his Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

 in the hope that the machinery of government would cease to function. The story is of dubious authority, but if the seal was thrown into the river, it was certainly recovered soon afterwards, as James's successors, William III
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 and Mary
Mary II of England
Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

 used the same seal matrix, fairly crudely adapted to represent their dual monarchy. This may have been a quite deliberate choice, in order to imply the continuity of government.

Edward VIII
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

, who abdicated in order to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson only a few months after succeeding to the throne, never selected a design for his own seal and continued to use that of his predecessor, George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

. On the other hand, the longer-lived British monarchs have had several Great Seals during their reigns. Only one matrix of the Great Seal exists at a time, and since the wax used for the Great Seal has a high melting point
Melting point
The melting point of a solid is the temperature at which it changes state from solid to liquid. At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in equilibrium. The melting point of a substance depends on pressure and is usually specified at standard atmospheric pressure...

, the silver plates that cast the Seal eventually wear out. Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 had to select four different Great Seal designs during the sixty-three years of her reign.

The current seal matrix was authorised by the Privy Council in July 2001. It was designed by James Butler
James Butler (artist)
James Walter Butler MBE RA is a British sculptor.Butler was educated at Maidstone Grammar School and studied art at St Martin's School of Art and the Royal College of Art. For 10 years he was a professional stone carver. He taught sculpture and drawing at the City and Guilds of London Art School...

 and replaced that of 1953, designed by Gilbert Ledward
Gilbert Ledward
Gilbert Ledward RA , was an English sculptor.He won the Prix de Rome for sculpture in 1913, and in World War I served in the Royal Garrison Artillery and later as a war artist. He was professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art and in 1937 was elected a Royal Academician...

. The obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 shows a middle-aged Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 enthroned and robed, holding in her right hand a sceptre
Sceptre
A sceptre is a symbolic ornamental rod or wand borne in the hand by a ruling monarch as an item of royal or imperial insignia.-Antiquity:...

 and in her left the orb
Sovereign's Orb
The Sovereign's Orb is a type of regalia known as a globus cruciger and is one of the British Crown Jewels.- History :It was created for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661 along with the Sceptre with the Cross and Ampulla....

. The circumscription ELIZABETH . II . is the abbreviated Latin form of the royal title. On the reverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 are the full royal arms
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion...

, including crest, mantling and supporters. This is the first time that the royal arms have provided the main design for one side of the British Great Seal. The reverse of the 1953 version depicted the Queen on horseback, dressed in uniform and riding sidesaddle
Sidesaddle
Sidesaddle riding is a form of Equestrianism that uses a type of saddle which allows a rider to sit aside rather than astride a horse, mule or pony. Sitting aside dates back to antiquity and developed in European countries in the Middle Ages as a way for women in skirts to ride a horse in a modest...

, as she used to attend the annual Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and the Commonwealth armies. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, although the roots go back much earlier. On battlefields, a regiment's colours, or flags, were used as rallying points...

 ceremony for many years until the late 1980s. The seal's diameter is 6 inches (15.2 cm) and the combined weight of both sides of the seal matrix exceeds 275 troy ounces (8,553.5 g).

Usage


The Great Seal is attached to the official documents of state that require the authorization of the monarch to implement the advice of the Government.

Under today's usage of the Great Seal, seals of dark green
Green
Green is a color, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 520–570 nanometres. In the subtractive color system, it is not a primary color, but is created out of a mixture of yellow and blue, or yellow and cyan; it is considered...

 wax are affixed to letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

 elevating individuals to the peerage
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

, blue
Blue
Blue is a colour, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 440–490 nm. It is considered one of the additive primary colours. On the HSV Colour Wheel, the complement of blue is yellow; that is, a colour corresponding to an equal...

 seals authorize actions relating to the Royal family
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

, and scarlet
Scarlet (color)
Scarlet is a bright red color with a hue that is somewhat toward the orange. It is redder than vermilion. It is a pure chroma on the color wheel one-fourth of the way between red and orange. Scarlet is sometimes used as the color of flame...

 seals appoint bishops and implement various other affairs of state. In some cases the seal is replaced by a wafer version, a smaller representation of the obverse of the Great Seal embossed on coloured paper attached to the document being sealed. This simpler version is used for royal proclamations, letters-patent granting the royal assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

, writs of summons to Parliament and for licences for the election of bishops and commissions of the peace. It formerly constituted treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 to forge
Forgery
Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations. Forging money or...

 the Great Seal.

The Great Seal of the Realm is in the custody of and administered by the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly an officer of the English Crown charged with physical custody of the Great Seal of England. This evolved into one of the Great Officers of State....

. This office has been held jointly with that of Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 since 1761. The current Lord Chancellor is Kenneth Clarke
Kenneth Clarke
Kenneth Harry "Ken" Clarke, QC, MP is a British Conservative politician, currently Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. He was first elected to Parliament in 1970; and appointed a minister in Edward Heath's government, in 1972, and is one of...

. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

 reiterates that the Lord Chancellor continues to be the custodian of the Great Seal.

The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery
Clerk of the Crown in Chancery
In the Government of the United Kingdom, the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery is a senior civil servant who is the head of the Crown Office. The Crown Office, a section of the Ministry of Justice, has custody of the Great Seal of the Realm, and has certain administrative functions in connection with...

, who is also Permanent Secretary
Permanent Secretary
The Permanent secretary, in most departments officially titled the permanent under-secretary of state , is the most senior civil servant of a British Government ministry, charged with running the department on a day-to-day basis...

 of the Ministry of Justice (formerly the Department of Constitutional Affairs), heads Her Majesty
Majesty
Majesty is an English word derived ultimately from the Latin maiestas, meaning "greatness".- Origin :Originally, during the Roman republic, the word maiestas was the legal term for the supreme status and dignity of the state, to be respected above everything else...

's Crown Office, and is responsible for the affixing of the Great Seal. He is assisted by the Deputy Clerk of the Crown. Day-to-day custody is entrusted to the Clerk of the Chamber, and subordinate staff include a Sealer, and two Scribe
Scribe
A scribe is a person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession and helps the city keep track of its records. The profession, previously found in all literate cultures in some form, lost most of its importance and status with the advent of printing...

s to Her Majesty's Crown Office.

Section 2 of the Great Seal Act 1884 governs the use of the Great Seal of the Realm:

Inscriptions on the Great Seal



The Great Seal for each successive monarch is inscribed with the monarch's names and titles on both sides of the seal. Some of those used in the past are shown below. Where the inscriptions on both sides of the seal are identical, only one is given. Where they are the same except for the use of abbreviations, the one with the fuller forms is given. Where they are different, they are shown separated by a slash.

Kingdom of England

  • Edward the Confessor
    Edward the Confessor
    Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

    . SIGILLVM EADVVARDI ANGLORVM BASILEI
    • Seal of Edward, Sovereign of the English.
  • William II of England
    William II of England
    William II , the third son of William I of England, was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales...

    . WILLELMVS DEI GRATIA REX ANGLORVM
    • William, by the grace of God, King of the English.
  • Henry I of England
    Henry I of England
    Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

    . HENRICVS DEI GRATIA REX ANGLORVM / HENRICVS DEI GRATIA DVX NORMANNORVM
    • Henry, by the grace of God, King of the English / Henry, by the grace of God, Duke of the Normans.
  • Stephen of England
    Stephen of England
    Stephen , often referred to as Stephen of Blois , was a grandson of William the Conqueror. He was King of England from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne by right of his wife. Stephen's reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda...

    . STEPHANVS DEI GRATIA REX ANGLORVM
    • Stephen, by the grace of God, King of the English.
  • Henry II of England
    Henry II of England
    Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

    . HENRICVS DEI GRATIA REX ANGLORVM / HENR[ICVS] DEI GRA[TIA] DVX NORMANNORVM ET AQUIT[ANORVM] ET COM[ES] ANDEG[AVORVM]
    • Henry, by the grace of God, King of the English / Henry, by the grace of God, Duke of the Normans and of the Aquitanians and Count of the Angevins.
  • Richard I of England
    Richard I of England
    Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

    . RICARDVS DEI GRATIA REX ANGLORVM / RICARDVS DEI GRATIA DVX NORMANNORVM ET AQUITANORVM ET COMES ANDEGAVORVM
    • Richard, by the grace of God, King of the English / Richard, by the grace of God, Duke of the Normans and of the Aquitanians and Count of the Angevins.
  • John of England
    John of England
    John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

    . IOHANNES DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE ET DOMINVS HIBERNIE / IOH[ANNE]S DVX NORMANNIE ET AQUITANIE COMES ANDEGAVIE
    • John, by the grace of God, King of England and Lord of Ireland / John, Duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, Count of Anjou.
  • Henry III of England
    Henry III of England
    Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

    . HENRICVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE DOMINVS HIBERNIE DVX AQUITANIE
    • Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine.
  • Edward I of England
    Edward I of England
    Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

    . EDWARDVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE DOMINVS HYBERNIE DVX AQUITANIE
    • Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine.
  • Edward II of England
    Edward II of England
    Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II...

    . EDWARDVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE DOMINVS HYBERNIE DVX AQUITANIE
    • Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine.
  • Edward III of England
    Edward III of England
    Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

    . EDWARDVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE D[OMI]N[V]S HIBERNIE ET AQUITANIE
    • Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland and of Aquitaine.
  • Richard II of England
    Richard II of England
    Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

    . RICARDVS DEI GRACIA REX FRANCIE ET ANGLIE ET D[OMI]N[V]S HIBERNIE
    • Richard, by the grace of God, King of France and England and Lord of Ireland.
  • Henry IV of England
    Henry IV of England
    Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

    . HENRICVS DEI GRACIA REX FRANCIE ET ANGLIE ET D[OMI]N[V]S HIBERNIE
    • Henry, by the grace of God, King of France and England and Lord of Ireland.
  • Henry V of England
    Henry V of England
    Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

    . HENRICVS DEI GRACIA REX FRANCIE ET ANGLIE ET D[OMI]N[V]S HIBERNIE / HENRICVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE ET FRANCIE ET DOMINUS HIBERNIE
    • Henry, by the grace of God, King of France and England and Lord of Ireland / Henry, by the grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland.
  • Henry VI of England
    Henry VI of England
    Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

    . HENRICVS DEI GRACIA FRANCORVM ET ANGLIE REX
    • Henry, by the grace of God, of the French and of England, King.
  • Edward IV of England
    Edward IV of England
    Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

    . EDWARDVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE & FRANCIE ET DOMINVS HIBERNIE
    • Edward, by the grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland.
  • Richard III of England
    Richard III of England
    Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

    . RICARDVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE ET FRANCIE ET DOMINVS HIBERNIE
    • Richard, by the grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland.
  • Henry VII of England
    Henry VII of England
    Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

    . HENRICVS DEI GRACIA REX ANGLIE ET FRANCIE ET DOMINVS HIBERNIE
    • Henry, by the grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland.
  • Henry VIII of England
    Henry VIII of England
    Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

    . HENRICVS OCTAV[V]S DEI GRATIA ANGLIE ET FRANCIE ET HIBERNIE REX FIDEI DEFE[N]SOR ET [IN] TER[R]A ECCLESIA[E] A[N]GLICANE ET HIBERNICE SVPREM[VM] CA[PVT]
    • Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God, of England and France and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, and on Earth, of the England and Irish Church, Supreme Head.
  • Edward VI of England
    Edward VI of England
    Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

    . ... EDWARDI SEXTI DEI GRATIA ANGLIE FRANCIE / ET HIBERNIE REX FIDEI DEFE[N]SOR ET IN TERRA ECCLESIE ANGLICANE ET HIBERNICE SVPREMVM CAPVT
    • ... of Edward the Sixth, by the grace of God of England, France / and of Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, and on Earth, of the English and Irish Church, Supreme Head.
  • Mary I of England
    Mary I of England
    Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

    . MARIA D[EI] G[RATIA] ANGLIE FRANCIE ET HIBERNIE REGINA EIVS NOMINIS PRIMA FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • Mary, by the grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, Queen, first of her name, Defender of the Faith.
  • Elizabeth I of England
    Elizabeth I of England
    Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

    . ELIZABETHA DEI GRACIA ANGLIE FRANCIE ET HIBERNIE REGINA FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith.

Union of Crowns

  • James I of England
    James I of England
    James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

    . IACOBVS DEI GRACIA ANGLIÆ SCOTIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • James, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.
  • Charles I of England
    Charles I of England
    Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

    . CAROLVS DEI GRATIA ANGLIÆ SCOTIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • Charles, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.

  • Charles II of England
    Charles II of England
    Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

    . CAROLVS II DEI GRA[TIA] MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • Charles II, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.

Commonwealth

  • Commonwealth of England
    Commonwealth of England
    The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

    . THE GREAT SEAL OF ENGLAND / IN THE THIRD YEARE OF FREEDOME BY GODS BLESSING RESTORED
  • Oliver Cromwell
    Oliver Cromwell
    Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

    . OLIVARIVS DEI GRA[TIA] REIP[VBLICÆ] ANGLIÆ SCOTIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ &C PROTECTOR
    • Oliver, by the grace of God, of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, etc., Protector.
  • Richard Cromwell
    Richard Cromwell
    At the same time, the officers of the New Model Army became increasingly wary about the government's commitment to the military cause. The fact that Richard Cromwell lacked military credentials grated with men who had fought on the battlefields of the English Civil War to secure their nation's...

    . RICHARDVS DEI GRA[TIA] REIP[VBLICÆ] ANGLIÆ SCOTIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ &C PROTECTOR
    • Richard, by the grace of God, of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, etc., Protector.

Kingdom of England (Restored)

  • James II of England
    James II of England
    James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

    . IACOBVS SECVNDVS DEI GRATIA MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • James the Second, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.
  • William
    William III of England
    William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

     and Mary
    Mary II of England
    Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

    . GVLIELMVS III ET MARIA II DEI GRA[TIA] ANG[LIÆ] FRA[NCIÆ] ET HIB[ERNIÆ] REX ET REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATORES / AUREA FLORIGERIS SUCCRESCUNT POMA ROSETIS : SECURITAS BRITANNIÆ RESTITUTA
    • William III and Mary II, by the grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King and Queen, Defenders of the Faith / Golden apples grow in flowering rosebushes : The security of Britain restored.
  • William III of England
    William III of England
    William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

    . GVLIELMVS III DEI GRATIA MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • William III, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.
  • Anne of England. ANNA DEI GRATIA MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REGINA FID[EI] DEFENSOR
    • Anne, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith.

United Kingdom

  • Anne of Great Britain
    Anne of Great Britain
    Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

    . ANNA DEI GRATIA MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REGINA FID[EI] DEFENSOR / BRITANNIA ANNO REGNI ANNÆ REGINÆ SEXTO
    • Anne, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith / Britain in the sixth year of the reign of Queen Anne.
  • George I of Great Britain
    George I of Great Britain
    George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

    . GEORGIVS DEI GRATIA MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR / BRVNSWICEN[SIS] ET LVNENBVRGEN[SIS] DVX SACRI ROMANI IMPERII ARCHITESAVRARIVS ET PRINCEPS ELECTOR
    • George, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith / Of Brunswick and Lüneburg, Duke, of the Holy Roman Empire, Arch-treasurer and Prince-Elector.
  • George II of Great Britain
    George II of Great Britain
    George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

    . GEORGIVS II DEI GRATIA MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR / BRVNSWICE[NSIS] ET LVNEBVRGEN[SIS] DVX SACRI ROMANI IMPERII ARCHITHESAVRARIVS ET PRINCEPS ELECTOR
    • George II, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith / Of Brunswick and Lüneburg, Duke, of the Holy Roman Empire, Arch-treasurer and Prince-Elector.
  • George III of Great Britain. GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • George III, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.
  • George III of the United Kingdom
    George III of the United Kingdom
    George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

    . GEORGIUS TERTIUS DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • George the Third, by the grace of God, King of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
  • George IV of the United Kingdom
    George IV of the United Kingdom
    George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...

    . GEORGIUS QUARTUS DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • George the Fourth, by the grace of God, King of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
  • William IV of the United Kingdom
    William IV of the United Kingdom
    William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death...

    . GULIELMUS QUARTUS DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • William the Fourth, by the grace of God, King of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
  • Victoria of the United Kingdom
    Victoria of the United Kingdom
    Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

    . VICTORIA DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM REGINA FIDEI DEFENSOR
    • Victoria, by the grace of God, Queen of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
  • Edward VII of the United Kingdom
    Edward VII of the United Kingdom
    Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

    . EDWARDVS VII D:G: BRITT: ET TERRARUM TRANSMAR: QVÆ IN DIT: SVNT BRIT: REX F:D: IND:IMP: (To be read: Edwardus Septimus Dei gratiâ Britanniarum et terrarum transmarinarum quae in Ditione sunt Britannicâ, Rex, Fidei Defensor, Indiae Imperator)
    • Edward VII, by the grace of God, of the Britains and of the lands across the sea which are in the British Dominion, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.
  • George V of the United Kingdom
    George V of the United Kingdom
    George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

    . GEORGIVS V D G MAG BR HIB ET TERR TRANSMAR QVAE IN DIT SVNT BRIT REX F D IND IMP(To be read: Georgius Quintus Dei gratiâ Magnae Britanniae, Hiberniae, et terrarum transmarinarum quae in Ditione sunt Britannicâ, Rex, Fidei Defensor, Indiae Imperator)
    • George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Lands across the sea which are in the British Dominion, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.
  • George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

    . GEORGIUS VI D G MAG BR HIB ET TERR TRANSMAR QUAE IN DIT SUNT BRIT REX F D IND IMP(To be read: Georgius Sextus Dei gratiâ Magnae Britanniae, Hiberniae, et terrarum transmarinarum quae in Ditione sunt Britannicâ, Rex, Fidei Defensor, Indiae Imperator)
    • George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Lands across the sea which are in the British Dominion, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.

  • Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
    Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
    Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

    . ELIZABETH II D G BRITT REGNORVMQVE SVORVM CETER REGINA CONSORTIONIS POPVLORVM PRINCEPS F D(To be read: Elizabeth Secunda Dei Gratia Britanniarum Regnorumque Suorum Ceterorum Regina Consortionis Populorum Princeps Fidei Defensor)
    • Elizabeth II by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

See also

  • Great Seal (disambiguation)
  • Great Seal of Scotland
    Great Seal of Scotland
    The Great Seal of Scotland allows the monarch to authorise official documents without having to sign each document individually. Wax is melted in a metal mould or matrix and impressed into a wax figure that is attached by cord or ribbon to documents that the monarch wishes to make official...

  • Great Seal of Northern Ireland
    Great Seal of Northern Ireland
    The Great Seal of Northern Ireland is the seal used for Northern Ireland. The great seal is currently under the possession of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland...

  • Welsh Seal
    Welsh Seal
    The Welsh Seal is a seal to be used for Wales. Provision for a Welsh seal was made in Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 which also designated the First Minister of Wales as "Keeper of the Welsh Seal"...


External links