Symbols

Parliament of Victoria Crest

The central part of the insignia consisting of shield, garter and crown is taken from Queen Victoria's royal coat of arms : as Victoria was a Crown colony, the coat of arms was used on documents issued with the authority of the crown. All government departments are entitled to use this coat of arms.

 The shield is quartered. The three lions in the first and fourth quarters represent England, the lion in the second quarter represents Scotland and the harp in the third quarter represents Ireland. These designs appear on the royal coat of arms in different forms well before the reign of Victoria.

The motto on the garter reads "HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE". This is the motto of the Order of the Garter, translated as "Shamed be he who thinks evil of it" (Webster's New International Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1938), more loosely translated as "Evil to him whom evil thinks".

The crown is known as "St Edwards Crown", though it was made during the reign of Charles II to replace the coronation crown destroyed during the Commonwealth. It was the crown worn by Elizabeth II at her coronation and, at her request, is the crown used on all official designs.

Variations of the parliamentary shield are or have been used not only by the Parliament of Victoria, but also its departments, e.g. the Library and the Legislative Council. The precise origins of this usage are unknown but probably stem from the House of Commons.

Mace

The Mace is the symbol of office of the Speaker, the Presiding Officer of the Legislative Assembly. It also signifies the authority of the Legislative Assembly.

The Mace is carried by the Speaker's executive assistant, the Serjeant-at-Arms. The Serjeant-at-Arms is a parliamentary officer who supports the Speaker in official and ceremonial duties and helps to maintain order in the Chamber.

The position of Serjeant-at-Arms was created in England in the late 14th century as a bodyguard for the Speaker. Together with the Usher of the Black Rod, the Serjeant-at-Arms is also responsible for the security of Parliament House. The Serjeant, carrying the Mace, precedes the Speaker into the Chamber at the start of a sitting day.

The Mace remains in the Legislative Assembly as long as the House is sitting. When the Speaker is in the chair, it is placed on the central table, with the head of the Mace pointing to the Government side of the Chamber. When the Speaker departs the chair and is replaced by the Chairman of Committees the Mace is placed on brackets below the table.

The current Mace dates from 1901. It is modelled on the Mace from the House of Commons and is made of silver with gold plating. It weighs over 8 kilograms and is 1.52 metres long. Engraved on the staff are the names of the previous Speakers. It is the Parliament of Victoria's third Mace. The original Mace is on display in the Parliamentary Library. The second mace disappeared mysteriously in 1891 and was never recovered.

Black Rod

The Black Rod is the symbol of office of the Usher of the Black Rod, the executive assistant to the President of the Legislative Council.

The Usher of the Black Rod is a parliamentary officer who supports the President in official and ceremonial duties and helps to maintain order in the Chamber. Although the position of Usher of the Black Rod in the House of Lords can be traced back to 1361, Victoria has only used a Black Rod since 1951. Before that time, the President's executive officer was referred to simply as the Gentleman Usher. Until 2003, the Usher of the Black Rod wore full Windsor Court Uniform on ceremonial occasions. This consisted of a black cut-away tunic, lace cuffs and jabot (a cascade of lace frills worn around the neck), knee-breeches, silk stockings and silver-buckled shoes.

The Black Rod is made of fiddleback blackwood, with the head, foot and joint made of gilded sterling silver. It is carried by the Usher on ceremonial occasions and placed at the table of the Legislative Council in all its meetings.

The most dramatic use of the Black Rod is during the Opening of Parliament ceremony, when the Usher is sent to the Legislative Assembly Chamber to summon its Members to the Legislative Council Chamber. The Usher uses the foot of the Black Rod to bang loudly on the closed door of the Assembly Chamber. The Usher, when admitted to the Assembly Chamber, conveys the message from the Governor, demanding the immediate presence of Members of the Legislative Assembly in the Legislative Council Chamber. After a brief delay (designed to demonstrate the Assembly's independence) the Usher, carrying the Black Rod and the Serjeant-at-Arms, carrying the Mace, lead the Members of the Legislative Assembly across to the Council Chamber for the official ceremony.

Victorian Coat of Arms

The Victorian Coat of Arms can be found in Queen's Hall in Parliament House, above the statue of the Queen.

Victoria was the second State of Australia to achieve Arms, following the creation of the Commonwealth in 1901. A request from the Victorian Government for the laying down of Ensigns of Public Authority for the new State was forwarded through the Colonial Office by a letter of late 1909 to the principal advisor of the Crown in such matters, Garter Principal King of Arms.

The request was put forward that the Arms should incorporate, in one way or another, the elements of the State Badge used in Victoria since 1877. It was hoped that Victoria's distinctive representation of the constellation of the Southern Cross could figure in the Arms and that the Crown could appear in the crest.

There would appear to have been little difficulty of incorporating these ideas in the total design for, by February of the next year, the State Premier, the Honourable John Murray, gave his approval to a design which had been forwarded by Garter. It is of interest to note that at the same time as indicating agreement on behalf of the Government of Victoria, Premier Murray especially asked that the Crown in the Crest be depicted in it's Imperial form.

The term 'Imperial' has, in heraldic terms, nothing to do with the Empire, although the Premier may well have thought that it did. It has been so called from the Tudor period. An 'Imperial' crown simply means a Crown, the arches of which rise in a dome-like manner to that point where they cross and are surmounted by a small orb and cross. This is in contradistinction to that form of Crown known as 'St. Edward's Crown' where the arches rise to a certain height and then descend again before receiving the small orb and cross at that point where the arches cross. The Imperial form of Crown was popular during the latter part of the reign of Victoria and continued so right down to the accession of Queen Elizabeth II who decided to revert to the St. Edward's Crown.

By June, 1910 the Royal Warrant assigning the Armorial Bearings was ready and on the 6th of that month, King George V - who had just succeeded to the throne - signed the Warrant and so established the armorial identification of his authority in right of the State of Victoria.

The blazon or technical description was as follows:

  • Arms: Azure, five Stars Argent representing the Constellation of the Southern Cross.
  • Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours, Argent and Azure, a demi-Kangaroo proper holding in the paws an Imperial Crown Or.
  • Supporters: Dexter, a Female Figure (representing Peace) proper vested Argent cloaked Azure wreathed round the temples with a Chaplet and holding in the exterior hand a branch of Olive also proper; and Sinister, a like figure (representing Prosperity) vested Argent cloaked Gules wreathed round the temples with a Chaplet of Corn and supporting with the exterior hand a Cornucopia proper.
  • Motto: Peace and Prosperity

In other words, the Shield was blue with five silver stars thereof arranged so as to represent the Crux Australis. Although now met with frequently in Australian heraldry, this is an early example of this particular heraldic charge.

Rising from a Crest Wreath comprising silver and blue alternate twists (the official colours of the State), the Crest is made up of the upper part of a kangaroo shown in it's natural colours. The beast supports with it's claws a Royal Crown, in its Imperial interpretation, which is shown gold throughout.

The Supporters, so called from their function of 'supporting' the Shield on either side, are human figures. They are both classical in conception. That to the viewer's left wears a laurel wreath crown and representing, as she does, 'Peace' carries a sprig of olive in her hand. The corresponding figure on the viewer's right is a personification of 'Prosperity'. She has upon her head a circlet of golden cereal, and with her exterior hand supports a Cornucopia, symbolic of the result of peace.

The image which inspired the Supporters is again expressed in the motto: Peace and Prosperity - interestingly enough, the first motto to be in English among the Arms of Public Authority in the country.

There were no changes for the next half century. However, in 1958 the Pink Heath (Epacris impressa Labill.) was formally proclaimed as the floral emblem of Victoria. This in turn led to a desire that it be included somewhere in the Armorial Ensigns of the State. To this end, correspondence was entered into with Garter King of Arms. The obvious solution was to have the plant shown growing from a grassy mound which would in turn supply a firm base for the two Supporters. Such a mound is called a Compartment in heraldry.

Accordingly, on the 28th March, 1973 Queen Elizabeth II signed a further Royal Warrant which added the desired component out of which the State flower was shown growing. While the remainder of the Armorial Bearings remained essentially the same as in the 1910 Royal Warrant, the opportunity was taken to reinterpret certain of the elements. For example, the Crest Kangaroo now holds a St. Edward's Crown. Yet again, the interpretation of the female Supporters was more in accord with the current 'conception of Australian womanhood' to quote the suggestion put forward at the time by the Premier's Department.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 March 2010