Although many people view the Unicorn as the animal representative of Scotland, we must not forget the Lion Rampant, who truly runs the show. Featured in the Royal Banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland (or Banner of the King of Scots), the design pictured below is the Royal Banner of Scotland, and historically, the Royal Standard of the Kingdom of Scotland.
Different from the Saltire flag, which most know as the flag of Scotland, the flag featuring the lion rampant was historically used by the King of Scots. Where the Saltire flag can be used anywhere, the Lion Rampant differs in that an Act of Parliament in Scotland allows only a few Great Officers of State (who officially represent the Sovergeign in Scotland) to use the flag. When the Sovergeign is not present, however, the flag featuring the Lion Rampant is used in an official capacity at royal residences in Scotland.
Where did the Lion Rampant come from?
The first use of the Lion Rampant, as a royal emblem, was by Alexander II in 1222. The Lion Rampant is a symbol that features in coats of arms throughout the world, however it also features in the coat of arms for Clan Stewart, who were the royal family that ruled Scotland before the union of the crowns in 1603. Alexander III added the double border around the Lion Rampant, decorating it with Lilllies. It was in this format that the banner remained a royal Scottish banner, until James IV acceeded to the thrones of the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Ireland.
Since this date, the Lion Rampant was incorporated into both the royal arms and the royal banners of the Scottish and then English monarchs who ruled after James IV. This was to symbolise Scotland within the now British royal arms and banner, and would stay this way right through to the current day.
Although the Royal Scottish Banner, featuring only the lion rampant, is officially restricted for use only by the Sovereign and at Royal residences, the Lion Rampant continues to remain one of Scotland's most recognisable symbols.
Where can the Scottish Royal Banner be seen?
Interested in taking a look at the Lion Rampant in use, in your next visit to Scotland? Head to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire can also be seen using the Lion Rampant banner when the Queen is not in residence.
As the historical act of parliament permits official representatives of the Sovergeign to use the royal banner, several Great Officers of State such as the First Minister of Scotland,can make use of this right. Other representatives include Lord Lieutenants within their Lieutenancies, the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms and other Lieutenants who may be specially appointed by the Sovereign.
Variations of the Royal Banner are currently used by both the heir apparent to the King of Scots, the Duke of Rothesay and in the personal banner of the current Duke, Prince Charles.
Current use of the Lion Rampant...
Despite the restrictive 1672 Act of Parliament, in 1934 George V issued a royal warrant which authorised the use of the Royal Banner of Scotland during the Silver Jubilee. This restricted the use to hand-held flags which would symbolise loyalty to the Sovereign. The warrant made clear that flags may not be flown from flagpoles or buildings, however the allowance of personal banners has since then branched out within the commercial world. Souvenirs and merchandise, featuring this historic figure, are extremely popular.
If you would like your own Lion Rampant accessory, take a look at our selection here: https://www.scotweb.co.uk/multisearch?multi_search=lion+rampant