The George VI Seals

The Georve VI Seals

The King George VI seal had a rather peculiar history. On the accession of King George VI the Royal Mint provided a new seal in 1939. The Seal incorporated the Royal Arms, a version of the harbour scene and the Royal Style & Title in the form: "George VI by the Grace of God, Of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions Beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India". It was the first time that the Royal Style and Title had been inscribed on the Seal in English and not in Latin. The version of the picture was similar to the 1876 version, but with much of the detail omitted. In particular the buildings at the bottom of the Peak, the hills to the West of the Peak and much of the rigging of the ships were omitted, giving the seal an unfinished appearance. It is perhaps the worst of all the various versions of the famous harbour picture. This Seal, surprisingly, survived the Japanese occupation, was taken into use again after the War, and is shown in Plate IX.

Plate IX - The First George VI Seal

On 15th August 1947, the Secretary of State informed the Governor that H.M. King George VI had been pleased to approve that on and after 15th August 1947, the words INDIAE IMPERATOR and EMPEROR OF INDIA would be omitted from the Royal Style & Title, as a result of the Indian Independence Act of 1947, but the Proclamation to this effect was not issued until 22nd April 1948.

Most records having been destroyed during the War, there was no information in the Colony on how the King George VI seal had been obtained, so on 5th February 1948, the Government wrote to the Crown Agents for the Colonies for advice. The Crown Agents replied on 11th March 1948, that a 3" seal was made for the Hong Kong Government in the early 1930s by Messrs. W aterlow & Sons and that they would be able to provide alternative designs for a new seal omitting the words "Emperor of India". The Company provided alternative designs of which one was selected very similar to the 1939 version. The new Seal was produced and was Gazetted and taken into use on 8th October 1948. This Seal is shown in Plate X.

Plate X - The Second George VI Seal (1948)

It was not until September 1953 that it was learned, in correspondence with the Colonial Office, that the Deputy Master of the Royal Mint is ex officio Engraver of Her Majesty's Seals, and as such is responsible for providing the Public Seals of Colonial territories; that the Royal Mint, and not Waterlows, had made the pre-war King George VI seal; and that the 1948 King George VI Seal was accordingly obtained without authority.

On 3rd March 1952, H.M. Queen Elizabeth, having ascended to the Throne, by Proclamation authorized and empowered the Governor to "make use of the Public Seal lately in use within Our Colony of Hong Kong for sealing all things whatsoever that are used to be sealed therewith until another Seal shall be prepared and transmitted to you duly authorized by Us". The wording of this Proclamation, oddly enough, presumably validated the use of the unauthorized seal.