As Queen Elizabeth II approached Westminster Abbey in 1953 to participate in her official coronation ceremony as the next queen of England, she was greeted just outside by 10 statues depicting the many famous, important heraldic beasts that capture the heritage and lineage of the English crown.
Already popular in a bullion coin series from the Royal Mint, there is another option available specifically for collectors who want a piece of British royal history in their own homes. The specialty silver produced by Hotco includes a wide range of silver statues. Most notable of late is the release of a stunning 100 oz Silver Antique Finish Queen’s Beast 10-Statue Set. Now, you have the opportunity to find out more about the background of these beasts, their significance in British history, and their status in the Queen’s Beast Set in the weekly blog post from Provident Metals.
10-Statue Silver Set
Hotco recreated each of the beautiful statues from James Woodford in 1952 using sterling silver content, or 92.5% silver per statue.
Each individual statue weighs 10 Troy oz, with a total set weight of 100 Troy oz. The statues come with laser-etched markings on the base that identify the weight, purity, and serial number of each specimen. All 10 statues are packaged together inside of a cardboard box for shipping with protective packaging materials around each statue to secure it during delivery. The set comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and an antique polish on each piece. These silver statues are true heirloom-quality pieces and the polish helps to highlight all the little details that make each design special.
The 100 oz Silver Antique Finish Queen’s Beast 10-Statue Set is limited in available to just 100 silver sets in all. Each beast is represented on its own in support of a shield or badge used by monarchs from across the centuries dating as far back as the early Plantagenet kings in the 12th century CE. For more on the design of each set, see below.
Royal Sculptor James Woodford was commissioned to create the original Queen’s Beasts statues in 1952 for use in the Queen’s coronation ceremony. Each one depicts a different, pivotal creature used throughout the history of the Royal Arms and the various houses to rule the throne of England. Included in this set are beasts representing the House of Plantagenet, House of Lancaster, House of York, House of Tudor, House of Stewart, and the House of Hanover. Each one has its own backstory and its own connection to the crown that descends down to the modern and longest-reigning monarch in English history, Queen Elizabeth II. Details on each design include:
- Lion of England – lions have long featured in heraldry across Europe and even in England prior to the establishment of the modern kingdom. It was King Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart, who made the Lion of England and his Three Lions badge the first official Royal Arms in 1198. The Lion of England design shows a powerful lion with the Imperial State Crown on its head supporting the Royal Arms of England shield with the Three Lions in two quadrants, the Lion of Scotland in the second quadrant, and the Harp of Ireland in the third quadrant.
- Griffin of Edward III – the most famous “beast” of English heraldry, the Griffin of Edward III came to the throne with the longest-reigning Medieval king. Edward III adopted the Griffin, a mythical half lion-half eagle creature, as part of his private seal. During his reign, the Lion of England and Falcon of the Plantagenets supported the Royal Arms, but the Griffin played a part in his private seal with the use of a badge featuring the Round Tower at Windsor Castle where he was born.
- Red Dragon of Wales – the Red Dragon of Wales is, by far, the oldest heraldic beast in the Royal Arms. It predates the modern kingdom and was first used by Welsh kings in the fifth century CE. By the seventh century, the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, was famous in Wales. Claiming his own descent from Welsh kings, King Henry VII ascended the throne of England at the end of the Wars of the Roses in 1485 and brought the Red Dragon in as a supporter of his Royal Arms alongside the White Greyhound of Richmond. In this design, the Red Dragon supports a shield with a quartered shield bearing lions in each quadrant, the same image used by the coat of arms of the last native Prince of Wales.
- Unicorn of Scotland – with the passing of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 with no heir, her cousin King James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne as King James I. The first person to unify the crowns in a single being, James I brought the famed Unicorn of Scotland to the Royal Arms of England. Throughout the reign of the Stewart monarchs, the Unicorn of Scotland would support the arms alongside the Lion of England, as is done today as of 1837. This Unicorn of Scotland supports a shield with the Scottish coat of arms, a single rampant lion.
- Falcon of the Plantagenets – the Falcon of the Plantagenets is linked to the lineage of the early Plantagenet kings, particularly Kings Edward III and Edward IV. Reigning nearly a century apart, Edward III used the falcon in his personal badge. Edward IV, the first monarch of the House of York, used it in his own personal badge with the addition of an open fetterlock. This design captures the powerful falcon with the inclusion of the open fetterlock on the shield in front of the beast.
- Black Bull of Clarence – another beast linked with the Plantagenets and the cadet House of York, the Black Bull of Clarence comes from King Edward IV. Both Edward IV and his brother, King Richard III, used the Black Bull of Clarence. The beast descends to the brothers through Edward III’s son Lionel of Antwerp, first Duke of Clarence. The Black Bull supports the Royal Arms shield often used by monarchs before and after the Wars of the Roses, a quartered shield with the fleur de lis of France in two quadrants and Three Lions of England in the other two quadrants.
- Yale of Beaufort – one of the most powerful women in England during the Wars of the Roses was Lady Margaret Beaufort. Her only child, Henry Tudor, would go on to become King Henry VII, first monarch of the House of Tudor. The Yale of Beaufort comes from Lady Margaret’s paternal lineage and showcases the common English depiction of the mythical beast, that of a creature with the body of a goat, boar’s tusks, and horns on its head. The Yale of Beaufort supports a shield with the Beaufort badge and a portcullis at the center that is surmounted by a royal crown.
- White Lion of Mortimer – descended to King Edward IV through Anne de Mortimer, the White Lion of Mortimer was often used by Yorkist monarchs in place of the Lion of England in the Royal Arms. Notably, however, the White Lion of Mortimer is never crowned in heraldic depictions. The White Lion supports the shield of the Mortimer Family Coat of Arms, a design that would become central to the House of York. Known as the “white rose en soleil”, it showcases a white rose with golden rays of sunshine surrounding it in original artwork.
- White Horse of Hanover – known officially as the Saxon Steed, the White Horse of Hanover came to the Royal Arms with the ascension of Elector George of Hanover. Ruling as King George I of England, the White Horse was used in the Royal Arms throughout the House of Hanover’s reign from King George I’s rise in 1714 to the death of King William IV in 1837. The White Horse is depicted in this statue in support of the Royal Arms of England under the Hanovers, a quartered shield with the Lion of Scotland and Three Lions of England in the first quadrant, fleur des lis of France in the second quadrant, Harp of Ireland in the third quadrant, and the arms of the House of Hanover in the fourth quadrant.
- White Greyhound of Richmond – finally, yet another beast from the lineage of Edward III features with the White Greyhound of Richmond. This beast comes from John of Gaunt, first Duke of Lancaster and father of the future King Henry IV from the House of Lancaster. John of Gaunt was a son of King Edward III and it was King Henry VII who would prominently use the White Greyhound in his Royal Arms. The shield the beast supports is that of the House of Tudor, a double rose topped by a crown, a symbol of the union of the House of Lancaster and House of York following the Wars of the Roses.
Background on the Queen’s Beasts
James Woodford was commissioned by the British Ministry of Works to create the original 10 statues that were present during the official coronation ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II. He modeled the beasts on the King’s Beasts, a set of 10 stone statues erected at Hampton Court Palace during the reign of King Henry VIII. Woodford’s beasts are now on display at the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec.
Own Them All with Provident Metals
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