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National heraldry

The greater national arms (stora riksvapnet) originated in 1448 and has remained unchanged in Swedish law since 1943. The first legislation of state arms in Sweden was in 1908, and prior to that the state arms were changed by royal decree.[18] It is also the personal coat of arms of the king of Sweden; as such he can decree its use as a personal coat of arms by other members of the Royal House, with the alterations and additions decided by him.[19] Since the beginning of the reign of Gustav Vasa in 1523 it has been customary in Sweden to display the arms of the ruling dynasty as an inescutcheon in the centre of the greater arms.[20] The coat of arms of Queen Silvia of Sweden is similar to the greater arms of Sweden, but without the ermine mantling, and with the central inescutcheon exchanged for her personal arms: Per pale gules and Or, a fleur-de-lis counterchanged. The shield is encircled by an azure ribbon with dependent cross of the Order of the Seraphim.[21] The lesser coat of arms of Sweden (lilla riksvapnet) is emblazoned: Azure, with three coronets Or, ordered two above one; Crowned with a royal crown.f This is the emblem used by the government of Sweden and its agencies; it is, for example, embroidered on all Swedish police uniforms. Any representation consisting of three crowns ordered two above one is considered to be the lesser coat of arms, and its usage is therefore restricted by Swedish Law, Act 1970:498.[6][19] The three crowns have been a national symbol of Sweden for centuries; historians trace the use of the symbol back to the royal seal of Albrecht of Mecklenburg, and even earlier.[22] The three crowns have been recognized as the official arms of Sweden since the 14th century.[20][23] The earliest credible attribution of the three crowns is to Magnus Eriksson, who reigned over Norway and Sweden, and in 1330s, bought Scania from Denmark.[22] Written in 1378, Ernst

von Kirchberg's Reimchronik depicted Magnus Eriksson with a national banner of dark blue, charged with three crowns, although this banner did not ultimately become the national flag of Sweden. Swedish military heraldry made news headlines in Sweden and overseas in 2007, when a controversial change was made to the arms of the Nordic Battlegroup at the behest of a group of female soldiers who demanded that the lion's genitals be removed from the arms.[24][25] Vladimir Sagerlund, heraldic artist at the National Archives since 1994, was critical of the decision, saying, "once upon a time coats of arms containing lions without genitalia were given to those who betrayed the Crown."[24][26] The Times in London noted a recent trend toward heraldic "castration", pointing to the lions passant on the royal coat of arms of England, as well as the lions rampant on those of Norway, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Scotland, all of which have been depicted without genitals; in conclusion, The Times wrote, "some crests are ambiguous, but the message remains clear: the lions are supposed to display courage and nothing else."[25] Officials at the National Archives treat this as a change in artistic style, rather than a heraldic change, and the lion remains in its original form on the rolls of the National Archives,g while the castrated lion appears on the unit's sleeve patches.[27] The Nordic Battle Group's coat of arms was originally designed to incorporate heraldic elements and colours from all member nations, including "a lion that did not look Finnish, Norwegian, Estonian or Swedish."[28] In an unusual move, the Armed Forces Heraldry Council authorised the Nordic Battle Group commander's use of a command sign. This consisted of a bunting divided into fields of blue, gold and blue with a Roman numeral V in the gold field, since the unit would be the fifth mobilized combat unit of the European Union.