In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in front of a regal group of beings. But it wasn’t just the Royal Family, staff or adoring crowd in the streets below that stood honorably before her. It was in fact, The Queen’s Beasts, 10 heraldic statues representing Queen Elizabeth II’s rich genealogy.
Inspired by The Kings Beasts of Henry VIII, celebrating his marriage to Jane Seymour, The Queen’s Beasts were commissioned some 400 years later to celebrate the Coronation of Her Majesty The Queen. Not just an incredible sight, each beast comes with its own symbolism, and historic tale of adoption
The original King Beasts were destroyed in the 17th Century. Being the emblems of King Henry VIII and his lineage they were not replicated in their entirety for Queen Elizabeth II, but as you will see, they shared many of the same icons, going back to the House Of The Plantagenets.
In the autumn of 1952, royal sculptor James Woodford (now Sir James) was commissioned to create the personal heraldic statues that would greet the young Queen on her coronation day. Standing six feet high and weighing in at 700lbs each, the originally uncolored plaster statues lined the western annex to Westminster Abbey – except for The Lion Of England, who took a premium position in an alcove along the North wall.
65 years on, and painted in their full heraldic colors, The Queens Beasts now stand together in the care of the Canadian Museum Of History. From The Unicorn Of Scotland to the The Yale of Beaufort, each beast possesses its own unique tale of adoption into royalty while symbolizing the ancestral path that ultimately culminated in the crowning of the young 25 year old Elizabeth.
And now for the first time each of these 10 noble beasts have been sculpted in solid silver as stunning guardians to your estate. So come on in and meet these most interesting beasts of royalty.
Meet the Beasts
THE GRIFFIN OF EDWARD III
For The Love Of Beast And Bird
Because King Edward III used both the Falcon and Lion as his supporters, it comes as little surprise to learn he also used the Griffin (aka Gryphon) as a royal badge to appear on his private seal. Of course, the Griffin is not part falcon, but instead part eagle and part lion.
It is said The Griffin is the most widely used "monster" in heraldry, while the lion is the most widely used beast and the eagle the most widely used bird.
This mythical creature is known to be strong, intelligent and courageous. It is used to show strength, leadership and military courage. Following his military success and restoring royal leadership after the disastrous reign of his father, the Griffin seems fitting for Edward III.
Just like Edwards’ Griffin, your solid silver replica is sculpted in the female form featuring wings (instead of spikes), taloned arms, and a lions body.
THE YALE OF BEAUFORT
A Battle Hardy Beast
Along with the Welsh Dragon and White Greyhound, Henry VII also inherited a mythical beast from his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort. That beast was known as the Yale, or Centicore, often depicted white, with gold spots.
It’s appearance according to Roman Author Pliny the Elder was “the size of a hippopotamus, with an elephant’s tail, of black or dark brown in color, with the jaws of a boar and horns more than a cubit in length capable of being moved and which in a fight are raised alternately and presented to the attack or sloped backward in turn as opportunity requires”. Because of its battle prowess it came to symbolize “proud defense”.
It is similar to The White Greyhound, in that it was most popular with Henry VII, but first appeared in the heraldry of Henry IV’s younger son John, the father of Lady Margaret. Menacing, enchanting, and mysterious – this solid silver Yale is truly a magnificent sight to behold.
THE BLACK BULL OF CLARENCE
A Generous Beast
The Black Bull of Clarence descends to Queen Elizabeth II via Edward IV. But this beast actually appears before then with Lionel of Antwerp; son to Edward III, 1st Duke of Clarence, and ancestor to the Yorkist Kings.
The Black Bull was originally a supporter for the House Of Clarence. And while Edward and Richard were both descendents of the 1st Duke, they also held York lineage. So it seems Edward adopted the Black Bull, while his brother Richard opted instead for the White Boar of York as his personal badge.
It represents bravery and generosity, while the horns display strength and fortitude. Interestingly, they are four traits that seem more befitting to Queen Elizabeth II, than they did to Edward IV.
Your solid silver Black Bull is a beautiful beast as he stands holding the Shield of Arms used by all Sovereigns of the Houses of Lancaster and Tudor.
THE WHITE GREYHOUND OF RICHMOND
A Symbol Of Union
The Greyhound was known as the most favored canine breed in Northern England, and was the badge for John of Gaunt; Earl of Richmond, son of Edward III, and father to Lancaster heirs, including Henry IV. So it seems the Greyhound was a badge passed through the Lancaster’s.
However, as a badge adopted by Henry VII, it is claimed to have arrived through his wife via the House of York, while other reports state it comes through his mother and father via Lancaster. But it seems the noble Greyhound had its paws in both, being used also by George Plantagenet, a member of each house during his lifetime. And the shield features a crowned Tudor Rose, symbolizing the union of York and Lancaster.
Regardless of how it arrived to Henry VII, one thing is certain; the Greyhound replaced the English lion on the royal Coat Of Arms, opposite the Welsh Dragon, to represent the ancient Brythons.Certainly not beastly looking at all, your solid silver Greyhound of Richmond, features the same playful features as the original Queens Beast statue.
Red Dragon of Wales
Merlin And The Dragon
We’ve all seen the Red Dragon gracing the green and white Welsh flag. But its journey to becoming one of The Queens Beasts started long before that, in the 5th Century. It said the Welsh kings of Aberffraw first adopted the dragon during this time as a symbol of their power and authority after the Romans retreated from Britain.
Appearing out of Arthurian Legend, Merlin tells the tale of a vision he received, in which the red dragon represents the triumphant Britons, while a white dragon depicted the Saxons. And in the 7th Century it became known as the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd.
Fast forward to the 15th Century, 1485. King Henry VII, claiming his descent from the Welsh King, adopted the red dragon alongside The White Greyhound as his supporters. But regardless of lineage, King Henry VII was also said to be very fond of the myth surrounding the 7th Century King.
And as a direct descendant of King Henry VII, it is only natural The Red Dragon of Wales took its rightful place as one of The Queens Beasts during her Coronation. And now he’s a solid silver Dragon, ready to take his rightful place in your collection.
THE WHITE LION OF MORTIMER
… Not Just A Well Known Pub
He’s just as majestic as the Lion of England, but unlike his golden counterpart, the White Lion of Mortimer is uncrowned.
He is the emblem that originally featured on the Mortimer Family Coat of arms and of course, Richard of York. It is said he was promised the throne on King Henry’s death, but sadly Richard died in battle before that time. It was his sons Edward IV and Richard III who took the throne, and through the family line, the White Lion of Mortimer became the emblem on the Royal Coat of Arms.
Although he is a White Lion, he is better known for his shield – a white rose surrounded by a golden sun - the “white rose en soleil”.
The lineage from the White Lion Of Mortimer descends through all subsequent British Monarchs to Queen Elizabeth II and so takes its pride of place among The Queens Beasts. And this solid silver replica is sure to do the same in your collection.
UNICORN OF SCOTLAND
When Dragons Became Unicorns
According to folklore, and repeated throughout numerous poems and verses, the Unicorn was a natural enemy of the lion. And while Richard I “Lionheart” adopted the Lion of England in the 12th Century, King Robert of Scotland took the Unicorn as his supporter 100 years later. Just as the Scots would fight to remain sovereignty, the Unicorn was considered a proud beast that would rather die than be captured.
But how did the Unicorn cross from Scottish to Royal English Heraldry, to join the Lion as it appears today on the current Coat Of Arms.
Our story goes back to 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne, as King James I of England. On taking control of the English Coat of Arms, he immediately replaced the existing Red Dragon Of Wales with that of his Unicorn of Scotland.
And it is this collared Unicorn with its broken chain that appears as a supporter on both the Scottish and English Coat of Arms today - a noble, proud beast that appears to stand as the Royal Lion’s equal, a truly stunning piece replicated in solid silver.
THE WHITE HORSE OF HANOVER
A Horse Of Honor
The White Horse Of Hanover is well known as an important military cap badge, first granted by King George in 1715 to the 101st Grenadiers. Its importance is second to that of the Queens Crown Badge.
The White Horse appeared in the 4th Quadrant of the Royal Arms from 1714 to 1837, at the time when the crown was passed to the Elector George of Hanover – King George I, of Britain, France and England. It was adopted in memory of the white horse ridden by the Saxon King, Widukind near the turn of the 9th century.
Originally known as a Saxon Steed, The White Horse is still used today as the emblem for Westphalia.
The Arms of Hanover, with The White horse were removed when Queen Victoria took the throne in 1837, as Salic law prevented a woman from ascending the Hanoverian throne. But of course as a descendant to George I, The White Horse of Hanover automatically earned its rightful place as once of The Queen’s Beasts.
And just like the military insignia still in use, your solid silver Horse Of Hanover will forever be revered as a beast deserving of the highest honor.
THE FALCON OF THE PLANTAGENETS
In Hot Pursuit Of The Throne
In Heraldry, Falcons were known as a symbol of majesty and power. But to be more specific, it is said the Falcon represents someone eager, or in pursuit of an object much desired.
So it makes sense that King Edward IV took the Falcon for his personal badge, as a symbol of his struggle in the pursuit of the Throne. And when you look closely at the Falcon of Edward IV, you will see a slightly open fetter lock, symbolizing how Edward “forced the lock and won the throne”.
But, when you observe the original Falcon of the Plantagenets, adopted by King Edward III you’ll notice it is without fetter lock, and stands unrestricted. This is the only time you’ll see the falcon presented as such this in English Heraldry.
And your Silver Falcon statue also stands tall and proud, just as it did for Edward III, a symbol of pursuit and the benefits that come from it.
THE LION OF ENGLAND
The ‘King’ Of The Queens’ Beasts
Symbolizing nobility, strength, and courage The Lion Of England is historically regarded as the ultimate King Of Beasts. So it comes as no surprise that this stately creature was the first of the The Queen’s Beasts to greet her young majesty as she entered Westminster Abbey on the day of her Coronation.
Although lions have been used in heraldry since the early centuries, it became a consistent symbol of English royalty since the 12th Century during the times of Richard I “Lionheart”. It is thought this inspiration came from the Lions depicted on the shield belonging to ancestor, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.
Since those early days, The Lion Of England has firmly held his rightful place as the main stay supporter to the Royal Coat Of Arms. And now cast in solid silver, with his coat of arms you’ll find him to be a truly majestic sight, as he stands proud, casting protective heraldry in his steely gaze.