Legislatures often have their own symbols. Often these are appropriated or stylised versions of national emblems. Stormont uses a flax plant. Some time ago Westminster adopted the Tudor portcullis which now represents the Parliament of the United Kingdom — in green for the Commons or in red for the Lords.
In Scotland, however, the unicameral parliament has adopted a crowned banner as its distinctive insignia. (For previous posts on prominent emblems of modern Scottish design, see the Clootie Dumpling and the Daisy Wheel). The crown expresses authority — ultimately the sovereign power of the monarchy — while the corded banner hanging from a pommelled pole displays the Saltire, Scotland’s national flag. While early versions of the emblem were in blue, it is now standard that the symbol be depicted in purple, long a colour associated with Scotland through the national florae of heather and thistle.
The emblem’s origins are not precisely clear. Originally the Presiding Officer called for a competition amongst design students, but some professional graphic designers issued a howl of protest, perhaps thinking they were being deprived of a potential commission. The design firm Redpath submitted five proposals to Lord Steel (the Presiding Officer), and this was the chosen design. Lord Lyon was consulted over the design and issued relevant permissions for the use of the symbolic elements.
When incorporating text, the wording is set in Paul Renner’s Futura (beloved of the American filmmaker Wes Anderson).