Stephen Day

Hark the Heraldry

Lions can reach a top speed of 81 kilometres an hour. But only for a short time, then they need to stop. They do not run marathons. This makes them an odd emblem for a harriers club.

Lions live in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and in India. They do not live in Scotland. And yet Scotland, like many other countries where lions choose not to live, has claimed them as a national symbol. says King Richard the Lion Heart first introduced the rampant lion symbol to Britain in the late 12th century.

Imaginary encounter between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, 13th-century manuscript. (Wikipedia)

Richard’s reputation has been somewhat marred these days due to his proclivity for starting self-aggrandising crusades and killing masses of people. But back then he was quite a well-respected fellow among those of his peers that he did not kill. And so his penchant for lions caught on.

A few years later, in 1222, the Scottish King Alexander II employed the lion rampant as the Scottish royal emblem*:

Royal Banner of Scotland

Due to the aforementioned lack of lions in Scotland, Alexander and others were possibly unaware that lions don’t normally walk, run or fight while standing on their hind legs. And so the lion rampant has remained a steadfast symbol of the royal household of Scotland.

Because the lion rampant is a royal standard it has a law protecting its use. The Lyon King of Arms Act 1672 makes it an offence to use the symbol unless you are high up in Scottish public society – You pretty much need a job like Secretary of the State, Keeper of the Great Seal or Lord Lieutenant before you can wear a lion rampant.

Both Rangers Football Club and The Scottish National Party have been told off by the courts for using the lion rampant in an improper and unauthorised manner.

It seems our Wellington Scottish club founders were either unaware of or unconcerned by this restriction. And thus far the long arm of the Scottish Constabulary has not reached out to nab us for this long-standing legal infringement.

It may be however, that we have a copyright defence.

Officially the Royal Scottish lion rampant has a blue tongue and claws. Our Wellington Scottish lion has only ever had red tongue and claws. It is lion-rampant-esque, if you will.

In fact, in more closely resembles the lion on the flag of South Holland:

Flag of South Holland

All of which adds to my case that we should actually be called Wellington Dutch instead of Wellington Scottish.

*Author of Royal Banner of Scotland image: Government of Scotland, according to Lyon King of Arms Act 1672. (Sourced from Wikipedia)

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