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Heraldic Banners

Last modified: 2012-01-13 by rob raeside
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A definition question that I was wondering about: Is a "banner of arms" a plain flag with arms (say, US State flags), arms turned into a banner (say, the Royal Standard of the UK) or a flag based on the colors of arms (say, Luxembourg, or Belgium, or the civil flag of Monaco)?
Nathan Lamm, 22 July 2003

A banner of arms is a flag which look the same as the shield of a certain coat of arms, only (usually) square or rectangular instead of shield shaped (the images, charges, on the shield may be changed in form according to this, to fill out the field, which is good heraldic style to do). The UK royal standard is a good example of this. Other examples are the national flags of Austria, Kiribati and Switzerland.
Elias Granqvist, 22 July 2003

This is a banner of arms (or using an equivalent term, an armorial banner).

This is the reason why heraldic purists claim that the British royal standard should be called the royal banner -- missing the point that vexillologically the term "standard" is also used for the rank flags of heads of state and other high dignitaries.
Santiago Dotor, 22 July 2003

The banner of arms is definitely the shield in flag-form, in other words what's on the shield (the coat-of-armsin its restricted sense, the shield's contents) appears on the banner. Nothing outside the shield must appear for the flag to be a banner of arms.

Of course, many banners are rectangular and some people prefer square ones. The advantage of those latter is, that the contents of the shield appear visually better. In principle, all Swiss municipal flags are of this type. You mentioned the UK Royal Standard. There, the English lions are terribly elongated in order to fill their rectangles as they so handsomely do in the shield's quarters.

Still, both kinds of flag (rectangular or square) are banners of arms.

So, a monocoloured flag with a shield on it may be visually attractive and conform to the laws of good visibility, but it is not a banner of arms. If we repeat the coat-of-arms colours on a flag without duplicating its figures or whatever, those colours are 'Landesfarben' or akin to it.
Jan Mertens, 22 July 2003

Burkina Faso is one more to join the number of countries whose national flag has determined the national Coat of Arms of arms, just like Iceland or the Dominican Republic. These flags not actual banners of arms because the flag appeared first, though from a synchronic point of view there is no difference -- one needs to know the history of each flag and Coat of Arms. (I'm supposing that the current BF flag was created before the Coat of Arms was: the Coat of Arms law dates from 1987, while the flag is in use since 1984.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 23 November 2005