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Category: Badges

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Crown worn above chevrons (in the Ballarat Volunteer Regiment) by 2829 James John Heath who originally served in the 55th Regiment of Foot during the Crimean war.

Crowns & Cyphers as used on medals, badges & uniforms

<<< Crown worn above chevrons (in the Ballarat Volunteer Regiment) by 2829 James John Heath who originally served in the 55th Regiment of Foot during the Crimean war. 

What is "A crown"?

A crown is a symbolic form of headgear worn by a monarch or by a god, for whom the crown is traditionally one of the symbols of legitimacy

What is "The Crown"? 

In the British Empire, and later the British Commonwealth (in any country or colony that recognises the British Sovereign as Head of State, including British Dominions, Colonies, Protectorates, Protected and Associated States, Mandated and Trust Territories) the Crown is much more than some jewels and precious metal and it is much more than just the King (or Queen as the case may be).
Government land is known as Crown land. Anything belonging to the government is called Crown property, and if you are prosecuted in the courts, you are prosecuted by The Crown.  So The Crown is more than just a symbol of Royalty in the UK - it represents the state, the country and the Queen. Crown land in Australia for example is owned by the Commonwealth of Australia NOT the UK and not the Sovereign. 
  • The term is used to separate the authority and property of the government of THAT country from the personal influence and private assets held by the current Monarch of a kingdom.

Crowns as used on badges, medals, coins and uniforms

There are 8 crown types in the time frame that is of most interest to us as Australian or New Zealand military history buffs.
1 Queen Victoria Crown (QVC) This is really the St Edward's Crown. The same one as used by Queen Elizabeth II. Many designers over emphasised the design and many badge collectors now refer to it as the QVC or Queen Victoria Crown.
1a Guelphic Crown (Albert's) or (Hanoverian) Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was a German and this crown is the crown of the Dukes of the House of Hanover, of which he was a member, as were all the British Royal family.
1b Queen Victoria Small (widows) This is the Queen Victoria small diamond Crown (miscalled the Widow's Crown).
2 Imperial State Crown  (Imp)  Used during the reigns of Victoria, Edward VII, George V, (Edward VIII), George VI & Elizabeth II
2a Imperial Crown (rebuilt) (Imp) This crown was rebuilt in 1937 for George VI
3 Tudor Crown (King's or KC) Used during the reigns of Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI. (Nicknamed "Teddie's Hat" during Edwardian times)
3a Naval Crown (Tudor naval) A much older version of the a crown from Tudor times as used by the Royal Navy, Australian Merchant Navy & others.
4 St. Edward's Crown (Queen's or QC) Used during the reign of Elizabeth the First, Victoria, Edward VII and Elizabeth II. The "coronation crown".
In the days of Victoria & Edward VII particularly and the others to a lesser degree there has been a lot of variation in the way that the crowns on badges were portrayed by designers. Sometimes the lines of difference were blurred so much that it is hard to tell which crown was intended.

Uses made of the Crown on uniforms

Crown of Company Sergeant Major c.1893 (worn above chevrons).  Crown of Colour Sergeants and Sergeants on the Staff (Staff Sergeants) worsted c.1912. Warrant Officer Class 2, 1960

Large Tudor Crown rank badges for WO1/WO2 Pair of Tudor Crown rank badges for Major 1950. Pair of St. Edward's Crown rank badges for Major 1960.
  • The crown has be used at various time to indicate rank of
    • Colour Sergeant
    • Warrant Officer Class 1
    • Warrant Officer Class 2
    • Major
      • other senior ranks when used in conjunction with other symbols
  • In early days when worn as a collar badge it indicated the status of Commissioned Officer but not a particular rank.
  • The crown surmounted by a crowned lion has also been used for different ranks and badges. Details of that are on History of the Crowned Lion on Crown badge
WW2 rank insignia for Major in oxydised, gilt, silver and silver with red felt insert for dress uniform. Tudor or King's Crown.
Queen Victoria Crown
This is really the St Edward's Crown. The same one as used by Queen Elizabeth II. Many designers over-emphasised the design and many badge collectors now refer to it as the QVC or Queen Victoria Crown. While it is technically incorrect to do so it is in such common usage that it is accepted as "true".
  • Some of the variations used over the years


  • A gold sovereign (reverse) from early in the reign of Queen Victoria, 1838>>>



  • Below. Buttons of various military Unit in Australia during the later part of the reign of Victoria


Reverse of 1838 Victoria Young Head Shield Sovereign
As noted elsewhere some of these may have been intended to be Imperial State Crowns not the QVC. Designers took liberties with designs that would not be accepted today.

Guelphic Crown

Also used during Victoria's reign was Albert's (Victoria's husband) Crown. It  is the Guelphic Crown. Prince Albert was a German, and this crown is the crown of the Dukes of the House of Hanover, of which he was a member, as were the British Royal family. Victoria and Albert both had the surname, Sax-Coburg-Gotha, and they were first cousins.
1st NSW Infantry 5th Goorkha Regt Queensland Volunteers
for more details

Queen Victoria's Small Diamond Crown

Obverse of Victoria Jubilee Head Sovereign

This Crown was made for Queen Victoria in 1870 and can be seen in many of her portraits. 


<< Obverse of a gold sovereign from later in the reign of Victoria, 1887

20 years Service Medal 

In 1870 Queen Victoria, finding the Imperial State Crown too heavy, designed and commissioned this delightful small crown to be made, using some of the diamonds from her own collection - mainly from a large necklace. 

Queen Victoria's Small Diamond Crown measures 3.7 inches (9.9 cm) high and 3.4 inches (9 cm) in diameter. It was worn atop a widow's cap. 

The crown was made in 1870, using some 1,300 diamonds from a large necklace and other jewelry in the Queen's personal collection.  It was deposited in the Tower of London in 1927, by King George VI.

As can be seen it was used on coinage and on medals including medals awarded to Australians and New Zealanders.

Other versions of the Victoria image

Obverse of 1947 Victoria Gothic Crown Queen Victoria (the "gothic head")

This is the image of the young Victoria, 1847. It is referred to as the "gothic head". This design was seen on coinage and medals in the time frame we are interested. Note the Imperial State Crown.


Another image used for the young Victoria had her wearing a tiara style crown.
Other images were used with the Queen uncrowned. This was 1865


Obverse of 1899 Victoria Old Head Crown Queen Victoria (the "old head")

This image of an older Victoria was adopted from 1893 for silver and gold coins, and from 1895 for bronze coins, and was continued until Victoria's death in 1901. It was the third major portrait type of Victoria's reign. 

Called by some the "widow's head", although that is not particularly accurate as Prince Albert had died in 1861, and the "old head" was not used until 1893.

Imperial State Crown 








QE II wearing the Imperial State Crown, 2004

The Imperial State Crown Used on medals or badges during the reigns of Victoria, Edward VII, George V, (Edward VIII), George VI & Elizabeth II.
The Crown is of a design similar to St Edward's Crown but flatter topped: it includes a base of four crosses pattee alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, above which are four half-arches surmounted by a cross. Inside is a velvet cap with an ermine border. The Imperial State Crown includes several precious gems, including: 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies. It includes several famous jewels. The Cross atop the Crown is set with a sapphire taken from the ring of Edward the Confessor. The Black Prince's Ruby is set on the front cross pattee. Furthermore, the famous Cullinan II, or Lesser Star of Africa, is set on the front of the Crown.

It is generally worn at the end of a coronation when the new monarch departs from Westminster Abbey, though it was actually worn during the ceremony by Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, both of whom complained about the weight of the normally used crown, St Edward's Crown. Furthermore, it is worn annually by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament. Traditionally, the Crown and other jewels leave in their own carriage and arrive at the Palace of Westminster prior to the Queen's departure from Buckingham Palace. They are then transported to the Robing Room, where the Queen dons her robes and wears the Crown.

Click to go to the Canadian badges section.

Canada 1914

<< UK & Empire c1900

New South Wales 1903

Imperial State Crown (rebuilt in 1937)
The present crown is about the tenth manifestation since the Restoration. It was originally designed and made for Queen Victoria in 1838 to indicate that she was Empress of India. It was used at the coronations of Edward VII and George V. It was remade with practically the same stones for George VI in 1937.  Some of the world's most exceptional and historic precious stones are to be found adorning objects in the collection of crowns & regalia. Among them Cullinan I and Cullinan II, the two largest top-quality cut diamonds in the world and the extraordinary and ancient Koh-i-Noor diamond. Other famous stones include the Stuart Sapphire, the Black Prince's Ruby, and St Edward's Sapphire all set in the Imperial State Crown.
A large "Balas ruby"  (called the Black Prince's Ruby) is now set into the British Imperial State Crown. It measures five centimeters long and weighs about 150 carats. Balas rubies (red spinel) are said to have the same properties as genuine rubies and protect owners against ill fortune.

Australia c1930 Imperial Service Medal Fiji Independence Medal
  • The Imperial State Crown is worn on only two occasions. In addition to the State Opening of Parliament, it is worn by the monarch for the return to Buckingham Palace following a coronation ceremony. 

  • St Edward's Crown is the Crown with which ALL sovereigns are "crowned" during the Coronation Ceremony

Reverse of George V Wreath Crown Tudor Crown
The Tudor Crown (miscalled the King's Crown) has a rounded top.  image

It was introduced by Edward VII in about 1902 and was in use until the accession of Elizabeth II in 1953 when it was replaced by the St. Edwards Crown.   

Image is a variation of the Tudor Crown as used on a coin called "a crown" of 1927 during the reign of George V.

  • There are two things to keep in mind.
    • The "Tudor" Crown appears not exist as a real crown, it is a design introduced by Edward VII in 1902 for use on badges and medals.
    • The design is remarkably similar to that of the Queen Victoria small diamond Crown (see above) and it's my theory that he used it to commemorate his mother.
  • The shape of the Tudor Crown was rarely altered by designers

Kennedy Regiment hat badge Canadian Air Force rank badge 15th Australian Lt Horse QMI

Naval Crown (older Royal Navy version)

This is a much older variation as used by the Royal Navy and as can still be seen on Australian Merchant Marine badges
The naval crown (made up of alternate sterns and topsails) can be traced back to the Romans when a crown ornamented with a design of the 'rostra' or beak heads was awarded for bravery and was known as the 'Rostral Crown'. It can be seen on certain British Naval medals at the end of the sixteenth century. One of the earliest examples of the Naval crown in, practically its present form, is that which appears above the Arms of Greenwich Hospital dating from about 1700. The decoration, however, is wholly of square sails without the interspersed sterns. [National Maritime Museum web-site]

The British standard pattern was designed by Everard Green, Rouge Dragon, and approved 27 July 1903. Design was revised in 1922, approved by Naval Law Department NL 7350/22, and issued as Admiralty Fleet Order 3228/22. [National Archives (PRO) ADM 1/11609]

St Edward's Crown 

Coronation of King Charles II

Coronation medal of King Charles II, 1661. Left: Crowned bust of King Charles II. Right: The King enthroned, crowned by Peace hovering above. By Thomas Simon (signed T.S. below the bust). Silver. 29 mm. (1.15 inches) in diameter.
 Crown copyright 1994








<<< The magnificent solid-gold St Edward's Crown made for the coronation of Charles II and used, most recently, to crown Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. 

Elizabeth I shilling of her second coinage1560-61
mintmark: crosslet

A similar crown was also worn and used by Queen Elizabeth the First, 100 years earlier.

St Edward's Crown. Refurbished for Charles II's coronation from an old crown; the gold may have come from Edward the Confessor's crown.
  • The shape of the St Edward's Crown is rarely altered by designers these days but in Victoria's time there were many many versions.


RAR hat badge Silver Jubilee medal Golden Jubilee medal

All sovereigns wear both crowns

Each monarch uses and wears (at different times) both the Imperial State Crown and the St Edward's Crown. (See below for QEII pictured wearing both)
Female monarchs use St Edward's Crown more often on medals & badges but it remains the individual choice of each monarch. There is no "rule". Recent male monarchs have chosen the Tudor Crown to use as well as the Imperial State Crown on medals and badges. Again, there is no rule that says they have to.

The 4 portraits of QEII used on coinage

The first coinage portrait of Her Majesty was a portrait by Mary Gillick adopted for the earliest coins in her reign and issued from 1953. This portrait shows the Queen wearing a wreath.

For the decimal coins of 1968 a fresh portrait was adopted by Arnold Machin OBE,RA. The Queen is seen wearing the tiara given as a wedding present from her grandmother Queen Mary.

The third change in portrait was by Raphael Maklouf FRSA. The design shows the Queen with the Royal Diadem which she wears on her way to and from the State Opening of Parliament.

The portrait introduced in 1998 is the work of sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, FSNAD. It is only the fourth portrait of Her Majesty the Queen to appear on coins of her long reign. Her Majesty is wearing the tiara which was used in an earlier coinage portrait by Arnold Machin.

The Queen continues to be shown facing right, in accordance with a tradition dating back to the seventeenth century, where successive monarchs face in alternative directions on the coinage.

Royal Cyphers

Every King or Queen has their own cypher, which is displayed on certain buttons and badges,
Lot image Lot image Lot image
Victoria Edward VII George V
Lot image Lot image
Edward VIII George VI Elizabeth II
from a British Government site
Question. It is often remarked that, upon the accession to the Throne of the present Queen, the Crown above the Royal Cypher and the symbol of the State changed from the so-called "King's Crown" to the "Queen's Crown". The former resembles the Imperial State Crown (prior to the lowering of the arches in 1953) and the latter looks more like the Coronation Crown of St. Edward. Was this change made simply because the monarch was a Queen Regnant (and if so, is it not true that Queen Victoria used the "King's Crown" in the latter part of her reign)? Or was there some other reason for the change? 

Answer. You are correct in saying  that the present Queen's cypher incorporates a representation of St. Edward's Crown, with upright, domed sides, whereas George VI's cypher featured a Tudor Crown with sloping sides more like the Imperial State Crown.

However, there are no strict rules regarding the changes in crown design used in a Royal cypher, nor is there a King's Crown used for male monarchs as opposed to a Queen's Crown for female monarchs. The cypher design changes, as does that of the coat of arms, upon the accession of a new monarch, and the new cypher is always different from the preceding monarch's. The design change may include the adjustment of the shape of the crown to distinguish the cyphers.

One discernible trend is that sovereigns named Edward - Edward VII and Edward VIII, for example - have tended to use St. Edward's Crown in their Cyphers, by virtue of the name association.

During Victoria's reign, the design of the cypher was not standardised and so there were variations in the shape of the crown featured in different media during her long reign.

A private collection of Crowns as used on Aussie uniforms

Click to enlarge
  • Click the image to enlarge it. If it auto-reduces, Click the ICON.

(Above) AIF Volunteer badge

It was a red crown on khaki and was worn by members of the Forces, regardless of rank, that had volunteered for Active Service but who had been retained for service in Australia as "essential personnel".


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