The Royal Mint has issued an official range of commemorative £5 coins to mark the centenary of the House of Windsor. The coins feature a depiction of Windsor Castle based on the badge of the House of Windsor – a design originally approved by George VI.
The House of Windsor came into being in July 1917 by proclamation of George V, heralding the birth of a new royal dynasty. The German name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had come to the Royal Family in 1840 with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, but after some anti-German feeling during the First World War, the decision was made to be known as the House and family of Windsor.
The focus of the badge of the House of Windsor is Windsor Castle’s Round Tower. The castle, built in the 11th century, is the oldest and largest continually occupied castle in Europe. The Queen herself spent much of her childhood there during the Second World War, when German bombing raids on London made it too dangerous for the Royal Family to sleep at Buckingham Palace. Windsor remains one of The Queen’s favoured retreats, and the place she chose to celebrate her 90th birthday in 2016, with a public walkabout to meet the crowds of well-wishers.
On 20 November 1992 a major fire, lasting 15 hours, caused widespread damage but careful restoration has now returned the ancient building to its former glory.
Garter King of Arms, Thomas Woodcock, principal adviser to The Queen on matters of ceremony and heraldry said:
“The Royal Badge of the House of Windsor was approved by George VI in 1938. It was the king’s suggestion to include the Round Tower of Windsor Castle flying the Royal Standard (flown when the sovereign is in residence) and he particularly wanted the flag to look as though it was blowing in the wind.
“The sprigs of oak in the badge are a reference to Windsor Forest. They define the base of the mount on which the castle stands and also support the Royal Crown. The badge was originally approved with the older version of the Royal Crown but altered to the version currently used when the present queen ascended the throne.”
Timothy Noad has worked extensively in the fields of calligraphy and heraldry and is a Herald Painter at HM College of Arms in London. He specializes in work on vellum, using traditional gilding and painting techniques. His previous designs for The Royal Mint have included a Sovereign for The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and a series of £1 coin designs based on the floral emblems of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
“I am often asked to draw and paint the Royal Arms and badges and, while their design is strictly established, it is possible to make some minor adjustments in the layout. I always try go back to original sources rather than copying someone else’s heraldic painting, so looked at photographs of the Round Tower at Windsor Castle, St Edward’s Crown and natural oak leaves. I was working within a circle but the original badge was oval so I re-drew the oak branches and the Round Tower to fit in.
“The crown was enlarged slightly to sit nicely with the lettering of the inscription. I wanted a clean, stylised and traditional look, which I felt was appropriate for the history and continuity of the House of Windsor.”
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