Meghan Markle may be a member of the British royal family, but she’ll always be a California girl. Less than one week after she married Prince Harry, the newly crowned Duchess of Sussex has received a very special honor with her own coat of arms, according to People. But in another non-traditional twist, the design was not given to the father of the bride.
The coat of arms design is customized with colors and symbols and is usually presented to the father of the bride shortly before the royal wedding. But Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, was unable to travel to his daughter’s wedding due to his medical issues, so the decision was made to give the coat of arms directly to the Duchess. People notes that this is a “total” break in royal tradition, as is the decision not to have bride’s family name represented in the design.
A statement posted by Kensington Palace revealed that the design of the coat of arms created for Duchess Meghan was approved by Queen Elizabeth and Mr. Thomas Woodcock, who is Garter King of Arms and Senior Herald based at the College of Arms in London.
The Palace revealed that Meghan worked closely with the College of Arms throughout the entire design process to create a Coat of Arms that was ” both personal and representative.”
“The Duchess of Sussex took a great interest in the design,” Woodcock said in the statement.
The design for Duchess Meghan’s of arms was heavily inspired by the U.S. state of California, where Meghan was born in 1981. The Palace explained that blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean and the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine in Meghan’s home state.
Three quills included in the design represent communication and the power of words, an appropriate nod to Duchess Meghan’s former careers as an actress and blogger as well as her ongoing work as an activist. According to People, Meghan used to work as a calligrapher, so the quills are especially meaningful to her. The coat of arms design also includes a collection of golden poppies, which is California’s state flower, as well as wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace.
The Supporter relating to The Duchess of Sussex is a songbird in mid-flight with an open beak, another representation of communication as well as a symbol of Meghan’s independent nature.
In addition to her coat of arms, Duchess Meghan has been assigned a coronet which is comprised of “two crosses patée, four fleurs-de-lys, and two strawberry leaves.”
Unlike Thomas Markle, Kate Middleton’s father, Michael Middleton, received his coat of arms one week ahead of her 2011 wedding to Prince William, and it included a reference to his wife’s maiden name, Goldsmith.
While Thomas Markle has not spoken out about his daughter’s special royal coat of arms, Meghan’s outspoken half-sister Samantha has already said it is a “huge insult” that their father was not given a coat of arms in the same way Michael Middleton was.
“On what grounds could the royals feel that the Markles are somehow not worthy?” Samantha told The Sun. “To exclude him off a coat of arms is really stripping him of an honor and it’s a huge insult.”