Gay couples who get married can now apply for their own coat of arms.
The College of Arms, who are responsible for guarding, restoring and protecting coats of arms, have announced that same-sex married couples are now entitled to combine their coats of arms when they marry, just as heterosexual couples are entitled to do.
Coats of arms are most commonly held my aristocratic families; it is estimated that far less than 1 per cent of British people have a coat of arms.
Individuals can apply to the College of Arms to create their own using symbols to represent family influence, history and interests. The process of creating a coat of arms costs £5,250 for a man; £3,750 for a woman.
However, not everyone is eligible to receive a coat of arms. A design will only be commissioned by the College of Arms if the person is deemed worthy. The late Peter Gwynn-Jones, a former Garter King of Arms, once said: ‘In practice, eligibility depends upon holding a civil or military commission, a sound university degree or professional qualification, or having achieved some measure of distinction in a field beneficial to society as a whole.’
The current officer of the college of Arms, Lancaster Herald Robert Noel, said that he was very pleased to see the changes come in to effect and that it “seemed natural and logical” after the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. The first same-sex marriages took place in April this year.
Mr. Noel explained the centuries old process of combining a couples’ coats of arms when they married; “the custom was to divide a shield vertically down the middle and place the arms of the husband on one side and the arms of the wife on the other.” Now two men or two women can do the same.
The gay rights group Stonewall also welcomed the change. “Most people would agree that this is a quirky, antiquated tradition, but it’s nice that this tradition has now caught up with the reality of modern Britain,” said Richard Lane, media manager at Stonewall.