Just days after Meghan Markle‘s royal wedding to Prince Harry, the newly minted Duchess of Sussex has received a very special gift: a coat of arms.
The traditional design, customized with colors and symbols, is typically given to the father of the bride just ahead of a royal wedding, but amid the drama surrounding Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, in the lead-up to the royal wedding, the decision has been made to give the coat of arms directly to Meghan herself, which is a total break in royal tradition.
It’s also a break in tradition not to have the bride’s family name represented in the design. Kate Middleton‘s coat of arms not only reflected the Middleton family, but also her mother Carole’s maiden name.
“A Coat of Arms has been created for The Duchess of Sussex. The design of the Arms was agreed and approved by Her Majesty The Queen and Mr. Thomas Woodcock (Garter King of Arms and Senior Herald in England), who is based at the College of Arms in London,” the palace said in a statement Friday.
Meghan worked closely with the College of Arms to create a design that was both personal and representative. The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of Meghan’s hometown of Los Angeles.
The three quills represent communication and the power of words, a possible reflection of Meghan’s outspoken activism and her former lifestyle blog, The Tig.
Beneath the shield on the grass is a collection of golden poppies, California’s state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace — right outside Meghan and Harry’s cozy Nottingham cottage. Both the California Poppy and the wintersweet were also incorporated into Meghan’s wedding veil(along with embroidered flowers from each of the 53 counties in the Commonwealth).
It is also customary for Supporters of the shield to be assigned to members of the royal family, and for wives of members of the royal family to have one of their husband’s Supporters and one relating to themselves. The Supporter representing Meghan is a songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak, a further representation of the power of communication.
A Coronet has also been assigned to Meghan. It is the Coronet laid down by a Royal Warrant of 1917 for the sons and daughters of the Heir Apparent. It is composed of two crosses patée, four fleurs-de-lys and two strawberry leaves.
The arms of a married woman are also shown with those of her husband and the technical term is that they are impaled, meaning placed side by side in the same shield.
Kate Middleton‘s father, Michael Middleton, received his coat of arms just over a week before her 2011 wedding. It featured three acorns, which represented the family’s three children — Kate, Pippa and James — and a gold stripe across the middle in honor of Kate’s mother, Carole, whose maiden name is Goldsmith.
Now that Meghan has received her coat of arms, she and Harry can get their own “conjugal coat of arms,” which will likely be officially unveiled in a couple years. William and Kate’s made its debut in September 2013, just over two years after their April 2011 wedding.
“Every Coat of Arms has been designed to identify a person, school or organization, and is to last forever,” Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms at the College of Arms, told PEOPLE of the coat of arms creation process in 2011. “Heraldry is Europe’s oldest, most visual and strictly regulated form of identity and it surrounds us in Britain, giving clues to our history and surroundings.”