Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

The Crowned Banner

The Emblem of the Scottish Parliament

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).

This post was published on Monday, January 27th, 2014 1:00 pm. It has been categorised under Design Scotland and been tagged under , , , .
Donal Hanley
12 Mar 2014 2:54 pm

Hi Andrew
Greetings from Los Angeles.
Do you know what crown is being used?
It looks different from the one used south of the border.

22 Sep 2014 4:40 pm


Given that Lord Steel has put this in his Coat of Arms, how do you blazon such a charge ?

A banner corded, charged with a saltire, argent, hanging from a pommeled pole, purpure?

Kind regards


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