Armorial Bearings (1959)

Armorial Bearings (1959)

While in Stanley Internment Camp in Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation, Mr. E. I. Wynne-Jones (then a Cadet and subsequently Postmaster General) designed formal armorial bearings which he submitted to the Governor, Sir Mark Young, G.C.M.G., after the war with a proposal that these arms replace the flag badge. But the Governor said in March 1947 in respect of the flag badge that he did "not find its quaintness particularly repulsive" and he was not prepared to take any active steps for scrapping it.

There matters rested until May 1958 when the Governor, Sir Robert Black, G.C.M.G., O.B.E., directed that the question of devising formal armorial bearings should be re-examined. The Secretary of State gave advice on the proper procedure and asked for a rough sketch for the College of Arms. A heraldic design was prepared by Mr. G. C. Hamilton and painted by Mr. W. E. Jones, Chief Draughtsman of the Crown Lands and Survey Office.

The design was intended to symbolize the Colony's British connexion and to be indicative of its dependence upon sea communications and trade. Taking the constituent parts of the design separately (a) the Crest, which can be used by itself, consists of a Royal Lion with the Imperial Crown holding a pearl, indicating the small but precious nature of the Colony. It may also be taken as representing the description sometimes applied to Hong Kong of "Pearl of the Orient". (b) the Supporters are the Royal Lion, and a Chinese Dragon, indicating the British and Chinese aspects of the Colony; (c) the Shield contains a Naval Crown symbolizing the Colony's link with the Navy and the Merchant Navy. Next comes embattling to indicate the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941. Then follow two stylized junks, to indicate Eastern-type trade, on the seas surrounding the Colony.

The design was approved by Executive Council on 23rd September 1958 and was forwarded to the Secretary of State on 11th October 1958. The College of Arms accepted the design apart from minor differences: the golden lion gardant, being the dexter supporter in the Royal Arms, was disallowed and a lion in profile was substituted. The lion in the crest was also altered and a compartment was added. The College of Heralds prepared a final painting and H.M. the Queen, on 21st January 1959, granted and assigned the new Armorial Bearings "to be borne on seals, shields, banners, flags or otherwise according to the Laws of Arms". They were formally presented to the Governor by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh during his visit on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 7th March 1959 and were published in the Government Gazette on the same day. A reproduction of the Arms is on Plate XIII and the Warrant is reproduced in Appendix I.

The original copy and warrant were lodged in the Supreme Court library.

On 27th November 1959 the Colony Armorial Bearings (Protection) Ordinance, 1959 was enacted to prohibit the unauthorized making, displaying in public, sale or exposing for sale, or use of copies of the Colony Armorial Bearings. In moving the First Reading, Mr. E. B. Teesdale, M.C., the Acting Colonial Secretary said : "We are proud of the distinction which has been conferred on Hong Kong, and no one, I am sure, would wish to see the Colony's emblem debased by misuse.... The Armorial Bearings are the symbol of all of us collectively."

The new Arms proved to be popular and several departments and organizations sought approval to use them. Principles were gradually established and the Arms came to be used officially by Government or Government departments for the embellishment of Government property, buildings, documents, reports and so forth. Permission was also granted to reputable organizations to use the Arms or the Crest for decorative purposes on buildings or souvenirs of the Colony, or for insignia to be used on special occasions, or on badges where there was a close association between the organization and the Colony as a whole. Care was taken to ensure that the Arms were not defaced, or used in circumstances inconsistent with their dignity, or in any manner which would give an erroneous impression that the bearer had official standing. The Crest, the demi-lion holding the pearl, may be displayed by itself, and may be seen on the dollar coins which were introduced in 1960 to supplement the dollar notes issued by the Treasury.

Plate XIII - Armorial Bearings (1959)