Exclusive – Cameron’s royal coat of arms lectern gaffe

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By a Newsnet reporter

Prime Minister David Cameron has come under criticism for a presentational gaffe made during his recent visit to Scotland. 

The Scottish court of the Lord Lyon has confirmed that Mr Cameron gave his speech in Edinburgh behind a lectern bearing the version of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom for use in England and Wales.

Mr Cameron ought to have used the distinct Scottish version of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdon, which bears the crown of the Scottish monarch.

When in Scotland, the UK government should correctly use the Scottish version of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom.  This version is surmounted by the crown of Scotland, and bears the motto of the Scottish monarch, “nemo me impune lacessit” translated as “no one attacks me with impunity.”

Some will view the coat of arms gaffe as yet another illustration of the lack of attention Westminster officials pay to Scotland, the Court of the Lord Lyon has confirmed that Mr Cameron made his speech standing behind a lectern bearing the coat of arms of the English monarch and surmounted by the English crown.  The implication of the use of this coat of arms in Scotland is that Mr Cameron’s authority derives from the English crown.

The Court of the Lord Lyon is the official body in Scotland which regulates the granting and use of coats of arms and insignia.  In an email to a Newsnet Scotland reader, Mr Bruce Gorie, secretary to the Lyon Office said:

“… the Scottish version of the Royal Arms should have been displayed but it may be that the lectern used was one that travels with him and his aides had omitted to take in to account that a different version of the Royal Arms is used in Scotland.  While it is unfortunate, as a ‘one off’ incident it is not a matter that would concern us unduly but we trust that it will not be repeated.”

The Scottish version of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is shown in the image to the right.  The presentational gaffe was the second in the same week from Mr Cameron’s government.

Last week the UK Foreign Office snubbed Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland and the highest ranking Catholic clergyman in the United Kingdom.

A visit headed by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, minister without portfolio in the Coalition cabinet, to meet with Pope Benedict and Vatican officials, included the head of the Catholic Church in England as a part of the delegation.  However no invite was sent to Cardinal O’Brien.

There has been speculation that no one in the UK Foreign Office realised that the head of the English Catholic Church was outranked by his Scottish counterpart.