Before the French Revolution the symbol of the Kingdom of France was the fleur-de-lis. In the 20th century the French Republic adopted a coat of arms which appears on the French passports. However if the design is part of the National symbols of France, it is not considered an official coat of arms by the French Republic.
The origins of the Coat of Arms of the French Republic
Before the French Revolution the fleur-de-lis was the royal emblem:
The existence of a coat of arms in France is due to a request from the United Nations for a national copy from all member states to adorn the assembly hall. The design is not recognised by the Constitution and does not have legal status. The coat of arms appears on the cover of French passports alongside the words ‘Union Européenne’ and ‘République Française’.
The French coat of arms is made up of:
- A wide shield with surrounded by a lion-head and an eagle-head.
- The shield bears the monogram “RF” (République Française).
- An olive branch symbolising peace.
- An oak branch symbolising everlastingness or wisdom.
- The fasces, which is a symbol associated with the exercise of justice.
The Fasces (in French: faisceaux du licteur) is a tribute to the ancient Roman Republic (509-27 BC) and were used as a decorative feature as early as the 17th century under the reign of Louis XIII. They represent a bound bundle of wooden rods. An axe with its blade emerges from the rods.
This fasces is an image that power belongs to the people. According to the French Constitution it symbolises the “unity and indivisibility of the Republic“.
During the First Republic (1792-1804), it was topped by the Phrygian cap.
The fasces also appears on the Great Seal of France where it is held by Liberty.