Queensland Coat of Arms
Guest blogger: Niles Elvery - Manager, Public Access, Queensland State Archives
Queensland’s Coat of Arms is the oldest State Arms in Australia. The Coat of Arms is a heraldic device, symbolising the Crown’s constitutional authority in the Colony (later the State) of Queensland. The motto, Audux at Fidelis, means Bold but Faithful.
Correspondence on the proposed designs and selection of the original Queensland Coat of Arms is held at the Queensland State Archives.
Sir Albert Woods, Garter King of Arms from the Heralds College in London, produced four designs for the proposed Queensland Coat of Arms to be submitted to the Chief Secretary for Queensland, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, for final selection. In a letter dated 2 December 1892 addressed to Sir Samuel Walker Griffith from Sir James Garrick (Agent-General for Queensland), the four proposed designs were enclosed as well as the following direction to ensure complete secrecy around the selection process:
"In consequence of the shortness of time for the preparation of the panel for the Conference Room in the Imperial Institute, I suggest that your decision should be communicated by telegraph, either of the following code words will accordingly be understood to convey your approval of the particular drawing indicated vizt.
“Halfpay” Drawing A
“Halfprice” ” ” B
“Iceblink” ” ” C
“Icebound” ” ” D
I am personally in favour of Drawing B."
Queensland State Archives Item ID 860855 (letter number 12429/1893)
Drawing B was the design chosen by Sir Samuel Walker Griffith for the Queensland Coat of Arms. The Queensland Coat of Arms, also known as the Armorial Ensign of Queensland, was granted to the Colony of Queensland by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria in 1893.
In line with the economic priorities of the 19th century, symbols of primary industries and mining are featured on the chosen Coat of Arms design. The heads of a bull and a ram, a sheaf of wheat and two stalks of sugar cane represent the major rural industries. The badge of the Maltese Cross with crown has altered over time to represent the changes in the English monarchy.
The Queensland Coat of Arms – with the red deer and brolga added as supporters to the design – was granted in 1977 during the Silver Jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth II. In heraldry, supporters are figures usually placed on either side of the shield. For Queensland’s Coat of Arms, the red deer represents the old world – and is a classic animal of heraldry – whereas the Brolga, Australia’s only native crane, represents the native population of Queensland.
Queensland State Archives’ collection includes many treasures which document Queensland’s history, and researchers can visit the Public Search Room at Runcorn to discover their own treasures.