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National symbols of Wales

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Title: National symbols of Wales  
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Subject: History of Wales, Wales, Welsh law, Symbols of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, Outline of Wales
Collection: National Symbols of Wales
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

National symbols of Wales

The national symbols of Wales include a diversity of official and unofficial images and other symbols.


  • Flags 1
  • Heraldry 2
  • Other symbols 3
  • References 4


The Flag of Wales incorporates the red dragon, now a popular Welsh symbol, along with the Tudor colours of green and white. It was used by Henry VII at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 after which it was carried in state to St. Paul's Cathedral. The red dragon was then included in the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959. The British Union Flag incorporates the flags of Scotland, Ireland and England but does not have any Welsh representation. Technically, however, it is represented by the flag of England due to the Laws in Wales act of 1535 which annexed Wales following the 13th century conquest.

The flag of the Princely House of Aberffraw, blazoned Quarterly or and gules, four lions passant guardant two and two counterchanged langued and armed Azure.[1] The flag was first associated with Llywelyn the Great, who received the fealty of all other Welsh lords at the Council of Aberdyfi in 1216, becoming de jure Prince of Wales, according to historian Dr. John Davies. From the 11th century onwards, the Aberffraw family claimed primacy as princes of Wales as the senior descendants of Rhodri the Great, and included Owain Gwynedd, who was known as princeps Wallensium (Prince of the Welsh), and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.
The flag of Owain Glyndŵr, Prince of Wales, which combined the flags of Powys and Deheubarth, blazoned Quarterly or and gules, four lions rampant two and two counterchanged. The red lion on a yellow field represented Powys, and the yellow lion on a red field represented Deheubarth. Owain was the senior heir of both Powys and Deheubarth. The flag harkened back to the Aberffraw flag, linking Owain's rule with the Aberffraw princes of Wales in an effort to legitimize his rule. It is currently in use by the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg and widely amongst pro-independence groups.
The Flag of Saint David is sometimes used as an alternative to the national flag (and used in part of Crusaders' crest), and is flown on St David's Day.


The Red Dragon, part of the national flag design, is also a popular Welsh symbol. The oldest recorded use of the dragon to symbolise Wales is from the Historia Brittonum, written around 820, but it is popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of King Arthur and other ancient Celtic leaders. This myth is likely to have originated from the tale of Merlin's vision of a Red (The Native Britons) and a White (The Saxon Invaders) dragon battling, with the red dragon being victorious. Following the annexation of Wales by England, the red dragon was used as a supporter in the English monarch's coat of arms. The red dragon is often seen as a shorthand for all things Welsh, being used by many indigenous public and private institutions (e.g.: The Welsh Assembly Government, Visit Wales, numerous local authorities including Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, and sports bodies, including the Sport Wales National Centre, the Football Association of Wales, Newport Gwent Dragons, London Welsh RFC, etc.)
The Prince of Wales's feathers, the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales is sometimes adapted by Welsh bodies for use in Wales. The symbolism is explained on the article for Edward, the Black Prince, who was the first Prince of Wales to bear the emblem; see also John, King of Bohemia. The Welsh Rugby Union uses such a design for its own badge. The national sport is often considered rugby union, though football is very popular too.
The Coat of Arms of the Principality of Wales which are the historic arms of the Kingdom of Gwynedd are used by Charles, Prince of Wales in his personal standard. They are also the basis for the Royal Badge of Wales issued in 2008 for the use of the National Assembly for Wales.

Other symbols

The leek is also a national emblem of Wales. According to legend, Saint David (the patron saint of Wales[2]) ordered his Welsh soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. It is still worn on St David's Day each 1 March
The daffodil is the national flower of Wales, and is worn on St David's Day each 1 March. (In Welsh, the daffodil is known as "Peter's Leek", cenhinen Bedr/Cenin pedr.)
The red kite is sometimes named as the national symbol of wildlife in Wales.[3]
The Sessile Oak, also called the Welsh Oak is the national tree of Wales.
Dame Wales, as a National personification, as depicted by Joseph Morewood Staniforth symbolising the maternal voice of the Welsh 'mam'


  1. ^ The arms and flag have four squares alternating in red (representing iron, or Mars the god of War) and gold (representing the royalty of the Aberffraw house); with a walking lion ("passant") in each square of the opposite colour; with the lion's paw upraised and with the lion's face viewing the observer ("guardant": guarding against trespass); the tongue is stuck-out ("langued", tauntingly) and blue ("Azur"), and the outstretched claws ("armed") are blue ("Azur", representing saphires, or the god Jupiter; for primacy in Wales).
  2. ^ Ross, David. "Saint David of Wales". Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  3. ^ The RSPB: Red kite voted Wales' Favourite Bird
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