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Coronet of an earl (as worn by the 17th Earl of Devon at the coronation of Elizabeth II and now on display at Powderham Castle). Coronet EarlOfDevon PowderhamCastle.jpg
Coronet of an earl (as worn by the 17th Earl of Devon at the coronation of Elizabeth II and now on display at Powderham Castle).

In British heraldry, a coronet is any crown whose bearer is less than sovereign or royal in rank, irrespective of the crown's appearance. In other languages, this distinction is not made, and usually the same word for crown is used irrespective of rank (German : Krone, Dutch : Kroon, Swedish : Krona, French : Couronne, etc.) In this use, the English coronet is a purely technical term for all heraldic images of crowns not used by a sovereign, and implies nothing about the actual shape of the crown depicted. A Coronet is another type of crown, but is reserved for the lower ranks of nobility like Marquesses and Marchionesses, Earls and Countesses, Barons and Baronesses, and some Lords and Ladies. The specific design and attributes of the crown or coronet signifies the hierarchy and ranking of its owner.


Certain physical coronets are worn by the British peerage on rare ceremonial occasions, such as the coronation of the monarch. These are also sometimes depicted in heraldry, and called coronets of rank in heraldic usage. Their shape varies depending on the wearer's rank in the peerage, according to models laid down in the 16th century. Similar depictions of crowns of rank (German : Rangkronen) are used in continental heraldry, but physical headgear has never been made to imitate them.

Due to the extreme rarity of occasions in which peers' coronets are worn (sometimes more than fifty years pass before a new coronation and occasion to wear physical coronets), practical use of the term coronet today is almost exclusively confined to pictorial crowns and rank symbols in heraldry, adorning someone's coat of arms (indeed, many people entitled to a coronet never have a physical one made). Depiction of ordinary crowns or coronets in heraldry, rather than coronets of rank, including a variety of crest coronets sometimes placed under the crest, are not confined to peers, and are often shown in British heraldry outside the peerage.


The word stems from the Old French coronete, a diminutive of co(u)ronne ('crown'), itself from the Latin : corona, lit. 'crown, wreath' and from the Ancient Greek : κορώνη, romanized: korōnē, lit. 'garland, wreath'.

Traditionally, such headgear is used by nobles and by princes and princesses in their coats of arms, rather than by monarchs, for whom the word 'crown' is customarily reserved in English, while many languages have no such terminological distinction. As a coronet shows the rank of the respective noble, in the German and Scandinavian languages there is also the term rangkrone (literally 'rank crown').

Commonwealth usage

Depiction of a baron's coronet on a 17th-century funerary monument St Mary Magdalene, Croome, Worcs - Memorial to 4th Baron Coventry (1654-1687) coronet.JPG
Depiction of a baron's coronet on a 17th-century funerary monument

Traditionally, in the United Kingdom, a peer wears the coronet on one occasion only: for a royal coronation, when it is worn along with coronation robes, equally standardised as a luxurious uniform. However, for the 2023 coronation of King Charles III, on the government's advice, the King forbade the wearing of coronets by those peers who have been invited, except those performing specific ceremonial roles. [1]

In the peerages of the United Kingdom, the design of a coronet shows the rank of its owner, as in German, French and various other heraldic traditions. Dukes were the first individuals authorised to wear coronets. Marquesses acquired coronets in the 15th century, earls in the 16th and viscounts and barons in the 17th. Until the barons received coronets in 1661, the coronets of earls, marquesses and dukes were engraved while those of viscounts were plain. After 1661, however, viscomital coronets became engraved, while baronial coronets were plain. Coronets may not bear any precious or semi-precious stones. [2]

Since a person entitled to wear a coronet customarily displays it in their coat of arms above the shield and below the helmet and crest, this can provide a useful clue as to the owner of a given coat of arms. In Canadian heraldry, descendants of the United Empire Loyalists are entitled to use a Loyalist military coronet (for descendants of members of Loyalist regiments) or Loyalist civil coronet (for others) in their arms.

Royal usage

The coronet of the British heir apparent Crown of the British Heir Apparent.svg
The coronet of the British heir apparent

Members of the British royal family often have coronets on their coats of arms, and may wear actual coronets at coronations (e.g., Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret at the 1937 coronation of their father as George VI). They were made according to regulations instituted by King Charles II in 1661, shortly after his return from exile in France (getting a taste for its lavish court style; Louis XIV started monumental work at Versailles that year) during the Restoration. They vary depending on the prince's relationship to the monarch. Occasionally, additional royal warrants vary the designs for individuals. The most recent (and most comprehensive) royal warrant concerning coronets was the 19 November 1917 warrant of George V. [5]

The coronet of the heir apparent is distinctive in itself as it has a single arch with a globe and cross.

Charles III abolished the use of coronets at his Coronation in 2023 for both members of the Royal Family and Peers.

Princes and Princesses
Coronet of a Child of the Sovereign.svg Child of a sovereign

A coronet of crosses and fleurs-de-lis.

Coronet of a Child of the Heir Apparent.svg Child of an heir apparent

A coronet of crosses, strawberry leaves and fleurs-de-lis.

Coronet of a Grandchild of the Sovereign.svg Child of a son of a sovereign

A coronet of crosses and strawberry leaves.

Coronet of a Child of a Daughter of the Sovereign.svg Child of a daughter of a sovereign [2]

A coronet of strawberry leaves and fleurs-de-lis.

(Non-royal) Peers and Peeresses
Coronet of a British Duke.svg Duke or Duchess

A silver-gilt circlet, chased as jewelled but not actually gemmed, with eight strawberry leaves of which five are seen in two-dimensional representations.

Coronet of a British Marquess.svg Marquess or Marchioness

A coronet of four strawberry leaves and four silver balls (known as "pearls", but not actually pearls), slightly raised on points above the rim, of which three leaves and two balls are seen.

Coronet of a British Earl.svg Earl or Countess

A coronet of eight strawberry leaves (four visible) and eight "pearls" raised on stalks, of which five are visible.

Coronet of a British Viscount.svg Viscount or Viscountess

A coronet of sixteen "pearls" touching one another, nine being seen in representation.

Coronet of a British Baron.svg Baron or Baroness, Lord or Lady of Parliament

A plain silver-gilt circlet, with six "pearls" of which four are visible.

Municipal usage

Certain types of local government have special coronet types assigned to them.

No image.svg Coronet of a Scottish Regional Council (1973–1996)

A circlet richly chased from which are issuant four thistles leaved (one and two halves visible) Or. [6]

Coronet of a Scottish Island Council (1973-1996).svg Coronet of a Scottish Island Council (1973–1996)

A circlet richly chased from which are issuant four dolphins two and two respectant naiant embowed (two visible) Or. [7]

Coronet of a Scottish District Council (1973-1996).svg Coronet of a Scottish District Council (1973–1996)

A circlet richly chased from which are issuant eight thistle heads (of which three and two halves are visible) Or. [8]

No image.svg Coronet of a Scottish Community Council (1973–present)

A circlet richly chased from which are issuant four thistle leaves (one and two halves visible) and four pine cones (two visible). [9]

Danish coronet rankings

Spanish coronet rankings

All over the world, Spanish heraldry has used these crowns and coronets:

Swedish coronet rankings

The coronet of a Swedish duke (always a Swedish prince). Coronet of Carl of Sweden (1748) & subsequent Princes 2014.jpg
The coronet of a Swedish duke (always a Swedish prince).

Former monarchies

Kingdom of France

The hierarchy among the French nobility, which was identical for non-royal titles to the British hierarchy of peers, should not be understood to be as rigid in the ranking of titleholders as the latter. In particular, a title was not a good indication of actual preeminence or precedence: ancestry, marriages, high office, military rank and the family's historical renown counted far more than the precise title. Some distinguished families held a title no higher than count or even baron, but were proud of their ancient origin. Moreover, most of the nobility was legally untitled. Some hereditary titles could be acquired by a nobleman who purchased a "titled" fief, while titres de courtoisie ('courtesy titles') were freely assumed in the absence of strict regulation by the French crown and became more numerous than titles legally borne. In the 17th and 18th centuries, people assumed and used freely coronets of ranks that they did not have; and, in the 19th and 20th centuries abuse was still made of 'courtesy titles'. Titles continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870, and legally survive among their descendants.

The only title that was never usurped under the ancien régime, and rarely without some excuse afterwards, was the title of duc – because it was so often attached to the rank of peer of France, which carried specific legal prerogatives, such as the right to a seat in the Parlement of Paris. As a result, the title of duc was actually, as well as nominally, at the top of the scale after the royal family and foreign princes, and a cut above all of the other nobility. During the ancien régime, 'prince' was a rank, not a title, hence there was no coronet.

French coronets Meuble heraldique Couronnes francaises.svg
French coronets

Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire, and consequently its successor states (Austria, Germany and others), had a system very similar to that of the British, although the design varied.

Considering the religious nature of the Holy Roman Empire, one can say that, except for the short-lived Napoleonic states, no continental secular system of heraldry historically was so neatly regulated as under the British crown. Still, there are often traditions (often connected to the Holy Roman Empire, e.g., those in Sweden, Denmark or Russia) that include the use of crown and coronets. While most languages do not have a specific term for coronets, but simply use the word meaning crown, it is possible to determine which of those crowns are for peerage or lower-level use, and thus can by analogy be called coronets.

Precisely because there are many traditions and more variation within some of these, there is a plethora of continental coronet types. Indeed, there are also some coronets for positions that do not exist or entitle one to a coronet in the Commonwealth tradition. Such a case in French (ancien, i.e., royal era) heraldry, where coronets of rank did not come into use before the 16th century, is the vidame, whose coronet (illustrated) is a metal circle mounted with three visible crosses (there is no documentary or archeological evidence that such a coronet was ever made).

Often, coronets are substituted by helmets, or only worn on a helmet.


Although these crowns/coronets were usually granted with arms, sometimes the coronet was not granted.

Kingdom of Portugal

These coronets and crowns were used in Portuguese heraldry:

See also

Related Research Articles

Peerages in the United Kingdom form a legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various ranks, and within the framework of the Constitution of the United Kingdom form a constituent part of the legislative process and the British honours system. The British monarch is considered the fount of honour and is notionally the only person who can grant peerages, though there are many conventions about how this power is used, especially at the request of the British government. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of titled nobility, and individually to refer to a specific title. British peerage title holders are termed peers of the Realm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Viscount</span> Aristocratic title in various European countries

A viscount or viscountess is a title used in certain European countries for a noble of varying status. The status and any domain held by a viscount is a viscountcy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baron</span> Title of nobility in Europe

Baron is a rank of nobility or title of honour, often hereditary, in various European countries, either current or historical. The female equivalent is baroness. Typically, the title denotes an aristocrat who ranks higher than a lord or knight, but lower than a viscount or count. Often, barons hold their fief – their lands and income – directly from the monarch. Barons are less often the vassals of other nobles. In many kingdoms, they were entitled to wear a smaller form of a crown called a coronet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fleur-de-lis</span> Stylized lily, heraldic symbol

The fleur-de-lis, also spelled fleur-de-lys, is a common heraldic charge in the shape of a lily. Most notably, the fleur-de-lis is depicted on the traditional coat of arms of France that was used from the High Middle Ages until the French Revolution in 1792, and then again in brief periods in the 19th century. This design still represents France and the House of Bourbon in the form of marshalling in the arms of Spain, Quebec and Canada, for example.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peerage of France</span> Title of honor within the French nobility

The Peerage of France was a hereditary distinction within the French nobility which appeared in 1180 during the Middle Ages.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">King of arms</span> Rank of an officer of arms

King of arms is the senior rank of an officer of arms. In many heraldic traditions, only a king of arms has the authority to grant armorial bearings and sometimes certify genealogies and noble titles. In other traditions, the power has been delegated to other officers of similar rank.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grandee</span> Aristocratic title conferred on Spanish nobility

Grandee is an official aristocratic title conferred on some Spanish nobility. Holders of this dignity enjoyed similar privileges to those of the peerage of France during the Ancien Régime, though in neither country did they have the significant constitutional political role the House of Lords gave to the Peerage of England, of Great Britain and of the United Kingdom. A "Grandee of Spain" nonetheless enjoyed greater social privileges than those of other similar European dignities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nobile (aristocracy)</span>

Nobile is an Italian hereditary title borne by a noble who ranks similarly or just below a baron, similar to the rank of Baronet in England, Fidalgo in Portugal or Ritter in Germany. Unlike higher Italian titles which are typically referred to in lieu of an individual's name, nobile is used immediately before the given and surnames, usually in the abbreviated form Nob..

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Portuguese heraldry</span>

Portuguese heraldry encompasses the modern and historic traditions of heraldry in Portugal and the Portuguese Empire. Portuguese heraldry is part of the larger Iberian tradition of heraldry, one of the major schools of heraldic tradition, and grants coats of arms to individuals, cities, Portuguese colonies, and other institutions. Heraldry has been practiced in Portugal at least since the 12th century, however it only became standardized and popularized in the 16th century, during the reign of King Manuel I of Portugal, who created the first heraldic ordinances in the country. Like in other Iberian heraldic traditions, the use of quartering and augmentations of honor is highly representative of Portuguese heraldry, but unlike in any other Iberian traditions, the use of heraldic crests is highly popular.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Norwegian heraldry</span>

Norwegian heraldry has roots in early medieval times, soon after the use of coats of arms first appeared in continental Europe. Some of the medieval coats of arms are rather simple of design, while others have more naturalistic charges. The king-granted coats of arms of later times were usually detailed and complex. Especially in the late 17th century and the 18th century, many ennobled persons and families received coats of arms with shields containing both two and four fields, and some even with an inescutcheon above these.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crown (heraldry)</span> Emblem of a sovereign state, usually a monarchy

A crown is often an emblem of a sovereign state, usually a monarchy, but also used by some republics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dukes in France</span>

The title of Duke was the highest hereditary title in the French nobility during the time of the monarchy in France.

In the British peerage, a royal duke is a member of the British royal family, entitled to the titular dignity of prince and the style of His Royal Highness, who holds a dukedom. Dukedoms are the highest titles in the British roll of peerage, and the holders of these particular dukedoms are princes of the blood royal. The holders of the dukedoms are royal, not the titles themselves. They are titles created and bestowed on legitimate sons and male-line grandsons of the British monarch, usually upon reaching their majority or marriage. The titles can be inherited but cease to be called "royal" once they pass beyond the grandsons of a monarch. As with any peerage, once the title becomes extinct, it may subsequently be recreated by the reigning monarch at any time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marquesses in the United Kingdom</span> Rank of nobility in the peerages of the United Kingdom

Marquess is a rank of nobility in the peerages of the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">French heraldry</span> The use of heraldic symbols in France

French heraldry is the use of heraldic symbols in France. Although it had a considerable history, existing from the 12th century, such formality has largely died out in France, as far as regulated personal heraldry is concerned. Civic heraldry on the other hand remains a visible part of daily life.

Duke, in the United Kingdom, is the highest-ranking hereditary title in all five peerages of the British Isles. A duke thus outranks all other holders of titles of nobility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tudor Crown (heraldry)</span> Symbol of the Tudor Crown used in heraldry

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coat of arms of Bellingwedde</span>

The coat of arms of Bellingwedde is an official symbol of the municipality of Bellingwedde in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands. It was officially adopted in 1969. The coat of arms consists of a crowned shield with blue, gold, and silver elements, which refer to the abbey Palmar and the Wedderborg.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mantle and pavilion (heraldry)</span>

In heraldry, a mantle is a symbol of sovereign power and is generally reserved for royalty. In some cases, its use has also been granted to other nobles, in recognition of particular merits. In ordinary rendering, the mantle is usually crimson and lined with ermine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coat of arms of the Prince of Wales</span> Personal coat of arms of the Prince of Wales

The coat of arms of the Prince of Wales is the official personal heraldic insignia of the Princes of Wales, a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, formerly the Kingdom of Great Britain and before that the Kingdom of England.


  1. Rayner, Gordon; McTaggart, Ian (14 April 2023). "Coronation row over hundreds of peers forbidden from wearing robes". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  2. 1 2 Cox, Noel (1999). "The Coronets of Members of the Royal Family and of the Peerage". The Double Tressure, the Journal of The Heraldry Society of Scotland. No. 22. pp. 8–13. Archived from the original on 15 April 2006. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  3. Ciara.Berry (15 January 2016). "Honours of the Principality of Wales". The Royal Family. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  4. "Titles and Heraldry: Prince of Wales". Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  5. 1917 royal warrant
  6. "Practical Heraldry for the Self-Isolator (5A)" (PDF). Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  7. "Practical Heraldry for the Self-Isolator (5B)" (PDF). Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  8. "Practical Heraldry for the Self-Isolator (5B)" (PDF). Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  9. "Practical Heraldry for the Self-Isolator (9A)" (PDF). Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 14 October 2020.