Page:A Complete Guide to Heraldry.djvu/552

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494

A COMPLETE GUIDE TO HERALDRY

The method of differencing the English Royal Arms is quite unique, and has no relation to the method ordinarily in use in this country for the arms of subjects. The Royal Arms are not personal. They are the sovereign arms of dominion, indicating the sovereignty enjoyed by the person upon the throne. Consequently they are in no degree hereditary, and from the earliest times, certainly since the reign of Edward I., the right to bear the undifferenced arms has been confined exclusively to the sovereign upon the throne. In early times there were two methods employed, namely, the use of the bordure and of varieties of the label, the label of the heir-apparent to the English throne being originally of azure. The arms of Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward I., were differenced by a bordure argent; his elder brother, Thomas de Brotherton, having had a label of three points argent; whilst the eldest son, Edward II., as Prince of Wales used a label of three points azure. From that period to the end of the Tudor period the use of labels and bordures seems to have continued concurrently, some members of the Royal Family using one, some the other, though there does not appear to have been any precise rules governing a choice between the two. When Edward III. claimed the throne of France and quartered the arms of that country with those of England, of course a portion of the field then became azure, and a blue label upon a blue field was no longer possible. The heir-apparent therefore differenced his shield by the plain label of three points argent, and this has ever since, down to the present day, continued to be the "difference" used by the heir-apparent to the English throne. A label of gules upon the gules quartering of England was equally impossible, and consequently from that period all labels used by any member of the Royal Family have been argent, charged with different objects, these being frequently taken from the arms of some female ancestor. Figs. 700 to 730 are a somewhat extensive collection of variations of the Royal Arms.

Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III., bore: France (ancient) and England quarterly, a label of three points argent, and on each point a canton gules.

The use of the bordure as a legitimate difference upon the Royal Arms ceased about the Tudor period, and differencing between members of the Royal Family is now exclusively done by means of these labels. A few cases of bordures to denote illegitimacy can, however, be found. The method of deciding these labels is for separate warrants under the hand and seal of the sovereign to be issued to the different members of the Royal Family, assigning to each a certain coronet, and the label to be borne over the Royal Arms, crest, and supporters. These warrants are personal to those for whom they are