Costing £3,500, the coat of arms was presented on an ornate scroll inside a red box with gold trimmings. McCartney had originally applied for the coat of arms in 1997, the year he was knighted, but the death of his first wife Linda from cancer in 1998 delayed its design and approval.
The coat depicts a guitar held by a Liver bird, a reference to his musical career and his Liverpool roots. The left-facing helmet has an open visor, as is customary for knights. It was officially granted by Hubert Chesshyre, LVO, Clarenceux King of Arms.
Here is the official description:
Arms: Or between two Flaunches fracted fesswise two Roundels Sable over all six Guitar Strings palewise throughout counterchanged.
Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours A Liver Bird calling Sable supporting with the dexter claws a Guitar Or stringed Sable.
Motto: ECCE COR MEUM (Behold my heart)
The design of these arms (granted on Sir Paul’s 59th birthday) clearly recalls Sir Paul’s principal instrument, the guitar. In addition the cormorant or ‘liver bird’ in the crest is a reference to his native city, Liverpool. The helmet is left-facing and has an open visor as is customary for knights; Sir Paul was made a knight bachelor in 1997.
The result is a simple and distinct design that makes a clear reference to the grantee’s career without departing from the standard vocabulary of the English heraldic tradition.
The shield, featuring two black curved emblems, is divided in two. The resulting four shapes, resembling beetles’ backs, symbolise McCartney and his fellow Beatles John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The two black circles above are representative of records and compact discs, with guitar strings overlaid.
The motto Ecce Cor Meum is Latin for Behold My Heart. It is also the title of an oratorio released by McCartney in 2006.
Also on this day...
- 1970: Paul McCartney files a lawsuit to dissolve The Beatles’ partnership
- 1966: George Harrison is refused entry to Annabel’s nightclub in London
- 1965: The Beatles attend New Year’s Eve parties
- 1964: Live: Another Beatles Christmas Show
- 1963: Live: The Beatles’ Christmas Show
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1960: Live: Casbah Coffee Club, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.