Ryan Shuflin wrote:I suspect that since the Red Cross was established by international law, that there is some extra protection given the red cross symbol, but it's scope, I do not know.
Iain Boyd wrote:Dear Charles,
The red cross symbol may 'belong' to the International Committee of the Red Cross, BUT, I would be very surprised if they could stop any individual (let alone a national organisation) from using the same cross in their coat of arms - whatever it's symbolism in those arms.
Ryan is quite right. The various Geneva Conventions govern the use of the symbol.
The overwhelming vast majority of members internationally are not armigerous. Apart from a few County and National Officers (who were appointed for their connections), I know of only one armigerous member in the UK - me.
As a member and officer of almost 20 years standing, I used to train members in the history of the Red Cross and its use. I know for a fact that National Societies do NOT abuse the privilege. For a while, senior officers of the BRCS wore the symbol on a white shield-shaped badge on their collars in full dress uniform. This was discontinued and replaced with a roundel instead. The point being that it was just shield-shaped and not in any way heraldic.
Individual members, as part of their training, learn about the origins of the Societies and the protection afforded by the symbol. I would be very surprised if one of them assumed arms and flouted the conventions. I really can't see either the College or Lord Lyon granting arms with the symbol without consulting the Society first. The same would go for the St John symbol or any other publicly known symbol.
Surprisingly it is the armed forces of the various countries which abuse the symbol the most. When forces are "under arms", they just can't get their heads round the idea of "You can't bring your gun into the first aid post".