As the newly-married bride of Prince Harry of Wales, Meghan Markle is entitled to receive a Coat of Arms of her own to mark her entry into the Royal Family. Royal tradition was broken, however, when the CoA was presented to Meghan and not her father, which is how it is usually done.
In this case, it would have been impossible to present it formally to Thomas Markle, Sr. as he is still in the States recovering from heart surgery. But is the father of the bride entitled to have the Coat of Arms? In this case, the answer is ‘No.’
Because the Markle family has no British roots, it cannot go to Mr. Markle. In addition, no one in the Markle family is entitled to display or use the CoA except Meghan, who is now joined with British tradition through her marriage to Prince Harry.
That could be why the gift wasn’t saved for presentation until the senior Markle could come to London to collect it himself. There was no intention of his receiving it, so the fact that he wasn’t there was perhaps a blessing in disguise.
Take for example the difference with the Middleton family’s Coat of Arms, which was presented to Kate’s father shortly before her marriage to Prince William in 2011. “It is understood since Kate’s siblings and parents are British citizens they entitled to use the Middleton Coat of Arms, while Meghan's American heritage means the same honour has not been bestowed on her family, according to royal tradition.
“Royal tradition also dictates Kate’s brother James will be able to pass down the Middleton Coat of Arms to his children but her sister Pippa, as a woman, will only be able to use it during her lifetime and cannot pass it on."
The newly entitled Duchess of Sussex worked closely with the designers to create just the right combination of symbols to suitably represent what Meghan’s joining the family truly means. Meghan was very clear on what she wanted to be included, and the finished product reportedly meets with her approval.
“Her Royal Highness worked closely with the College of Arms throughout the design process to create a Coat of Arms that was both personal and representative.” Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms, said: "The Duchess of Sussex took a great interest in the design.”
The shield on which it formally appears bears both Meghan’s new Coat of Arms and that of her groom, Prince Harry. His Coat appears on the left and it is “impaled” with Meghan’s Coat on the right.
"Meghan's Coat of Arms features a songbird symbolising the "power of communication" and it has been joined with Prince Harry's royal lion Coat of Arms, as is protocol for royal wives.
“The Arms features nods to her home state of California as well as her new life as a member of the Royal Family. The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean while two golden rays symbolise the famous Californian sunshine. Beneath the shield on the grass also sits a collection of golden poppies which are California's state flower.
“Meghan's Coat of Arms also incorporates her new life in the Royal Family with wintersweet flowers, which grow at Kensington Palace. They feature alongside the golden poppies and a Coronet has also been assigned to the Duchess of Sussex, which sits above the shield.”
What is generating the most curiosity is the crown or “Coronet” that seems to have slipped down around the neck of the songbird that is said to represent Meghan herself.
Social media is running wild with suggestions that the crown symbolizes that her voice will be “choked” out because of her position in the Royal Family and that it is a subtle reminder that she can no longer speak her mind when representing the Family at engagements.
“The Coronet bestowed on the new Duchess was laid down by a Royal Warrant of 1917 for the sons and daughters of the Heir Apparent. It is composed of two crosses patée, four fleurs-de-lys and two strawberry leaves.”
Harry was granted his own Coat of Arms, which incorporates the Royal Arms, on his 18th birthday and it features a nod to his late mother Princess Diana's coat of arms with a small, red escallop appearing three times on the white collar around the lion and in the shield.
It will be interesting to see if Meghan’s estranged family in America will make any attempt to commandeer the Coat of Arms and profit from its display for their own personal use. While this is strictly prohibited by Royal rules, it doesn’t mean that they will not go ahead anyway - as royal protocol, if past incidents are any indication, apparently does not apply to them.
What was Meghan Markle’s upbringing in California really like? To learn more about the new Duchess of Sussex’ life on the Golden Coast, watch the video, below.