April 22, 2017

Finest Hour 175, Winter 2017

Getting the Bearings

HAMPSHIRE—The description of the armorial bearings of the Royal College of Defence Studies on page 21 [image on page 18] is unspecific about which elements represent the branches of the armed forces. Could you please elucidate?
—Paul H. Courtenay

Dr. Stewart obliges:

OXFORD—I am happy to provide the expanded version of the text describing the “Beast” or “the Great Beast,” as the bearings are affectionately known, which features in the College’s updated history that I completed last month:

The trident represents the Royal Navy, the lion the Army, and the wings of the lion the Royal Air Force. In 1955 a silver chain was added around the neck to denote the civilian members in attendance at Seaford House; the laurel wreath replaced this after consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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In 1974 it was finally agreed that formal armorial bearings would be acquired, and the funding for this was shared between the three services. These incorporated the Beast and existing motto with the basic feature of a shield showing the Royal Crown—a special privilege—above which is a book referencing the College’s instructional activities with a green background representing the distinctive onyx decoration within the building. The supporters are also particularly noteworthy, with the inclusion of the wolf from [Sir Maurice] Hankey’s personal arms and the lion from those of Churchill in recognition of their role in the original establishment.
—Andrew Stewart

The General Speaks

WASHINGTON, D.C.—It was a special privilege “to walk point” as the first speaker [at the new National Churchill Library and Museum] and as a huge admirer of the man rightly described as the Last Lion and to be in a place inspired by him. Congratulations on all you have done.
—Gen. David Petraeus

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