World Civic Heraldry Guide: coats of arms and flags of cities, regions, states
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, coat of arms
The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom have evolved over many years and reflect the history of the Monarchy and of the country. In the design the shield shows the various royal emblems of different parts of the United Kingdom: the three lions of England in the first and fourth quarters, the lion of Scotland in the second and the harp of Ireland in the third. It is surrounded by a garter bearing the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense ('Evil to him who evil thinks'), which symbolises the Order of the Garter, an ancient order of knighthood of which the Queen is Sovereign. The shield is supported by the English lion and Scottish unicorn and is surmounted by the Royal crown. Below it appears the motto of the Sovereign, Dieu et mon droit ('God and my right'). The plant badges of the United Kingdom - rose, thistle and shamrock - are often displayed beneath the shield. Separate Scottish and English quarterings of the Royal Arms originate from the Union of the Crown in 1603. The Scottish version of the Royal Coat of Arms shows the lion of Scotland in the first and fourth quarters, with that of England being in the second. The harp of Ireland is in the third quarter. The mottoes read In defence and No one will attack me with impunity. From the times of the Stuart kings, the Scottish quarterings have been used for official purposes in Scotland (for example, on official buildings and official publications).
(Source: The Monarchy Today, http://www.royal.gov.uk)
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