Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Heraldry in Africa
Jonathan Webster
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Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 20 Sep 2012, 13:16

Well; we hear about Royal heraldry all the time; but what about the heads of state of countries that are not monarchies?

A perusal over the database of the South African Bureau of Heraldry shows that the first Presidents of South Africa-Swart, Fouche, Diedrichs, Vorster, and Viljoen did not register arms with the Bureau.

However President Botha registered arms with the Bureau of Heraldry, namely; Argent a Seventeenth Century three master Sailing Ship, pennants flotant Gules, the masthead pennant tierc ed Orange, White and Blue, the Mainsail charged with a Maltese Cross Or, a Chief Nowy Gably Azure. The crest was: On a grassy Mount Or, in front of a Ship's wheel Gules, a Sword erect Or, hil ted and pomelled Azure. The motto was: WAAGMOED EN GELOOF.

His successor, President de Klerk, registered these arms with the Bureau: Azure a Fess the upper ed edge per chevron embowed and the lower edge embowed Or issuant from the peak a Protea Flower also Or, seeded and leaved Argent, in base a Hugenot Cross of the last. The crest was: On a mount Gules, in front of the Upper part of a Ship's Wheel Azure, a Quill erect with a demi-fleur ce,de lys issuant Argent, penned Gules. The motto is: SOLI DEO GLORIA.

President Mandela; whilst not as far as I know having registered arms with the Bureau, adopted arms upon being made a Knight of the Swedish Order of the Seraphim, namely: tierced per pall sable, azure and Gules, a pall Vert fimbriated in chief Or and dexter and sinister Argent. That is, the Flag of South Africa borne on a shield. He has adopted as a motto: !KE XARRA KE; the same as the Republic of South Africa itself, and also uses these arms as a Knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant.

As far as I can tell, no subsequent Presidents have registered or adopted arms, which I must say is a pity IMHO.

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 20 Sep 2012, 15:14

An interesting topic.

Jonathan Webster wrote:A perusal over the database of the South African Bureau of Heraldry shows that the first Presidents of South Africa-Swart, Fouche, Diedrichs, Vorster, and Viljoen did not register arms with the Bureau.

They probably didn't have arms. There do not appear to be historical arms in any of those families. Bogus Swart, Fouche, Vorster and Viljoen arms were published in a notorious series of magazine articles during World War II, but I don't know if any of those presidents used them.

However President Botha registered arms with the Bureau of Heraldry, namely; Argent a Seventeenth Century three master Sailing Ship, pennants flotant Gules, the masthead pennant tierced Orange, White and Blue, the Mainsail charged with a Maltese Cross Or, a Chief Nowy Gably Azure. The crest was: On a grassy Mount Or, in front of a Ship's wheel Gules, a Sword erect Or, hilted and pomelled Azure. The motto was: WAAGMOED EN GELOOF.

Interestingly, the registration certificate was presented to Botha by F.W. de Klerk, who was the education minister at the time. The State Archives, including the Bureau of Heraldry, fell under his ministry.

From an article published at the time : the ship ('boot' in Afrikaans) alluded to Botha's surname and commemorated the arrival of his ancestors in SA three centuries earlier; the "yellow grass field" symbolised the Orange Free State where Botha was born; the sword alluded to "many years striving" to assure the safety of SA [he was defence minister for fourteen years]; and the ship's wheel was "a direct reference to the years as leader". The motto was his favourite saying : "[Forward with] daring and faith".

President Mandela; whilst not as far as I know having registered arms with the Bureau, adopted arms upon being made a Knight of the Swedish Order of the Seraphim, namely: tierced per pall sable, azure and Gules, a pall Vert fimbriated in chief Or and dexter and sinister Argent. That is, the Flag of South Africa borne on a shield. He has adopted as a motto: !KE XARRA KE; the same as the Republic of South Africa itself, and also uses these arms as a Knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant.

As far as I can tell, no subsequent Presidents have registered or adopted arms, which I must say is a pity IMHO.

I wonder whether President Mandela actually 'adopted' these arms, or whether they were simply used to represent him in the galleries of the orders concerned.
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Arthur Radburn
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Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 22 Sep 2012, 09:52

http://imageshack.us/f/65/mandeladv6.png/

I don't know; but I suppose that depends what one means by 'adopted'; he certainly used/s them on more than one occasion; as a Knight of two different orders and in two different jurisdictions, as can be seen here:

Image

-so I suppose he has 'adopted' them to an extent. But whether he uses them on a day-to-day basis (bookplates, signet rings, etc. etc.) I have no idea.

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Claus K Berntsen
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Claus K Berntsen » 22 Sep 2012, 11:26

It should be noted that the Danish and Swedish chapters of the Orders do exchange information, so it's quite possible that a knight of both will bear the same arms in both.

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JMcMillan
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby JMcMillan » 22 Sep 2012, 12:37

It seems to me that there are enough instances in the Swedish and Danish order plates of presidents of republics being represented by the arms of the republics over which they preside to conclude that these should not be taken as personal arms. I suspect the situation is analogous to the use of the so-called presidential coat of arms (which is actually merely a distinctive emblazonment of the U.S. coat of arms) by the President of the United States.
Joseph McMillan
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Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 22 Sep 2012, 13:12

Confusingly enough, the arms of President Meri of Estonia has for the Danish order has an 'original' that feature a mullet of eight points on an Azure field with a base wavy Argent. But in right of the Swedish order, he uses simply the arms of Estonia itself.

I understand what you mean about some of the Presidents using arms that are the same as the state they are President of; as they are not sovereign, that makes little sense. But I suppose it should also be considered that they are bearing those arms in a foreign jurisdiction where these arms are not arms that denote public authority.

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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Marcus Karlsson » 10 Jun 2013, 17:05

As knight of the Order of the Seraphim President Mandela had a different Motto (from the old South African Arms translated: From unity strength). As Mr Mandela's health is currently detoriating, I guess this shield will in a not so distant future be moved to the Riddarholmskyrkan.

Image

Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 20 Aug 2013, 22:41

Arthur Radburn wrote:
Bogus Swart, Fouche, Vorster and Viljoen arms were published in a notorious series of magazine articles during World War II, but I don't know if any of those presidents used them.


-Do you have any information on these Arms?

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 21 Aug 2013, 15:23

Jonathan Webster wrote:
Arthur Radburn wrote:Bogus Swart, Fouche, Vorster and Viljoen arms were published in a notorious series of magazine articles during World War II, but I don't know if any of those presidents used them.

-Do you have any information on these Arms?

There were two 'Fouche' arms. The first, published in a book by A.J. Kannemeyer in 1940, was Azure, a column Argent entwined of a serpent Or; on a chief Gules an estoile issuant Argent. This appears to be a simplified version of the arms granted to the Duke of Otranto (surname Fouche) in 1808. The SA Fouches are not descended from him - they had already been in SA for 120 years by that time.

The second arms come from a long series of articles by Nicolaas Theunissen, which was published in a consumer magazine between 1944 and 1947. The arms which he attributed to Fouche in 1946, were Argent, a lion rampant Sable; on a chief Gules three mullets Or. They appears to have been cobbled together from elements of the arms of a French family named Fouchier and another named Fouche.

The 'Swart' arms, which Theunissen published in 1945, were Sable, two bars Argent; on an inescutcheon Gules a chevron Or. These are based on the arms of two Dutch families named Swart.

The 'Vorster' arms, also published in 1945, were Per fess the chief per pale, I Or a sprig of oak bendwise proper; II Gules a fleur de lis Or; III Argent on a base Vert a buck courant Gules in front of three trees proper. These arms may have been fabricated by Theunissen.

The 'Viljoen' arms, also published in 1945, were Gules a saltire Or. They are the arms of a French family named Villon, of which 'Viljoen' is a corruption.

Unfortunately, these arms were resurrected in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in various books and articles published by Cornelis Pama, who was SA's leading heraldry writer at the time. They were no doubt also marketed by bucket shops, until legal restrictions were placed on them. The Heraldry Council ruled in 1977 that the arms published by Theunissen were "worthless" and would not be accepted for registration or as the basis for new arms.
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Arthur Radburn
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Mike_Oettle
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Re: Arms of the Presidents of South Africa

Postby Mike_Oettle » 15 Feb 2015, 20:21

Despite this ruling by the Heraldry Council, when the Viljoen Familiebond (family association) applied to register arms, it was permitted to bear gules a saltire or; a chief argent.
While these arms were not in fact registered, the precedent was recognised, and the Rev Roy Snyman registered arms based on it. His arms can be found at http://www.reocities.com/skildsoom/RoyE.html
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Mike
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