Compared with earlier versions, the current coat of arms has a reduced number of quarterings because HM The Queen no longer wished to hold some of the official titles her male predecessors had. In addition to displaying the arms of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, it retains a few historic symbols.
The shield is divided into quarters by the cross of the Dannebrog. The first and fourth quarters show the arms of Denmark, three crowned lions surrounded by nine hearts. They date back to what is known from the end of the 1100s and have been used ever since by the kings of Denmark. In the second quarter are the two lions of Southern Jutland. Created in the mid-13th century, that symbol was derived from the Danish coat of arms and became an integral part of the royal coat of arms when Christian I became Duke of Southern Jutland (Schleswig) in 1460.
The two lions are retained in special consideration of Southern Jutland, whose history differs greatly from that of the rest of the country. The third main quarter is divided into three smaller sections. The three crowns are, in fact, the arms of Sweden, but here they represent the union of the three Nordic Kingdoms (the Kalmar Union), which Danish kings have referred to in this way since 1546 and by authority of a peace treaty with Sweden since 1613. The ram is the symbol of the Faroe Islands and dates back to the 14th century.
The upright polar bear became Greenland’s symbol in the 1660s. At the centre of the Dannebrog cross is a small escutcheon with the two bars of the Oldenborg royal dynasty. They date back to the 1100s and indicate that the Royal House of Denmark is a branch of the Oldenborg line. The shield is encircled by the collars of the Order of the Elephant and the Order of Dannebrog, and it is supported by two savages, which were added to the coat of arms by Christian I. The savages stand in a pavilion topped by the Royal Crown.
The Royal Coat of Arms may be shown without the supporters and the pavilion. The crowned Coat of Arms encircled by the collars of the orders of chivalry is thus seen on The Queen’s shield in the Chapel of the Orders at Frederiksborg Palace, as well as in the Great Seal used for Royal Appointments and laws enacted by Parliament.
The Royal Coat of Arms is reserved for the Monarch, the Royal House and the Royal Household.