Three Crowns
Three Crowns is a national emblem
National emblem
A national emblem symbolically represents a nation. Most national emblems originate in the natural world, such as animals or birds, but another object may serve. National emblems may appear on many things such as the national flag, coat of arms, or other patriotic materials...

 of Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, present in the Coat of Arms of the Realm of Sweden
Coat of arms of Sweden
The greater national coat of arms and the lesser national coat of arms are the official coats of arms of Sweden.- Escutcheon :...

, and composed by three yellow or gilded coronets ordered two above and one below, placed on a blue background.

The emblem is often used as a symbol of authority by the Swedish government
Government of Sweden
The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the supreme executive authority of Sweden. It consists of the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. The Government is responsible for their actions to the Riksdag, which is the legislative assembly...

 and by Swedish embassies around the world, but also appears in other less formal contexts, such as the Swedish national men's ice hockey team
Swedish national men's ice hockey team
The Swedish men's national ice hockey team, or Tre Kronor , as it is called in Sweden, is one of the most successful ice hockey teams in the world...

, who wear the symbol on their sweaters
Hockey jersey
A hockey jersey, traditionally called a sweater , is a piece of clothing worn by hockey players to cover the upper part of their bodies. "Sweater" is the correct reference in Canada, despite the material...

 and hence are called "Three Crowns" (usually blue crowns on yellow shirt), and atop the Stockholm City Hall
Stockholm City Hall
Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm in Sweden. It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, next to Riddarfjärden's northern shore and facing the islands of Riddarholmen and Södermalm. It houses offices and conference rooms as well as...

 built 1911-1923. The Three Crowns are also used as the roundel
A roundel in heraldry is a disc; the term is also commonly used to refer to a type of national insignia used on military aircraft, generally circular in shape and usually comprising concentric rings of different colours.-Heraldry:...

 on military aircraft
Military aircraft
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:...

 of the Swedish Air Force
Swedish Air Force
The Swedish Air Force is the air force branch of the Swedish Armed Forces.-History:The Swedish Air Force was created on July 1, 1926 when the aircraft units of the Army and Navy were merged. Because of the escalating international tension during the 1930s the Air Force was reorganized and expanded...

 and as a sign on Swedish military equipment in general, and also on the uniforms and vehicles of the Swedish Police Service
Swedish Police Service
The Swedish Police Service is a collection of Government agencies concerned with police matters in Sweden. The Swedish Police Service consists of 28,500 employees of which 39 per cent are women. The staff consists of 20,000 police officers of which 25 per cent are women and 8,500 civilian staff of...


Because of their common Scandinavian origin, the Three Crowns are also featured in the royal coat of arms of Denmark
Coat of arms of Denmark
The royal coat of arms is more complex. The shield is quartered by a silver cross fimbriated in red, derived from the Danish flag, the Dannebrog. The first and fourth quarters represent Denmark by three crowned lions passant accompanied by nine hearts; the second quarter contains two lions passant...

 where they might be referred to as the "union mark".

The original Swedish coat of arms

The first coat of arms of Sweden from the 13th century featured a golden lion on a background of wavy blue and white diagonal lines. It is still part of the present greater coat of arms of Sweden which is quartered between the lion coat of arms and the three crowns. As the lion and the crowns were occasionally re-interpreted as the coat of arms of the provinces of Götaland and Svealand respectively, the lion was earlier, erroneously, called the Göta lion.

The three crowns

The origin of the Three Crowns symbol has been much debated throughout history and various more or less well-founded theories have attempted to shed some light on the matter.

One of several traditional explanations have suggested Albrekt of Mecklenburg
Albert of Sweden
Albert was King of Sweden from 1364 to 1389 and Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin from 1384 to 1412.-Background:...

 (1338–1412), who ruled Sweden 1364-1389, brought the symbol from Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 as a sign of his reign of Sweden, Finland and Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...


Apart from the fact that Finland was not regarded as a country in its own right at the time, this theory has, however, been refuted by later research, namely, the announcement in 1982 of the discovery of a frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 in Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 in southern France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, estimated to date back to 1336.

The frieze was painted for an international congress led by the Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 and contains the symbols of all participant countries, including Sweden. This discovery suggests the symbol was introduced by Albert's precursor Magnus Eriksson
Magnus IV of Sweden
Magnus Eriksson as Magnus IV was king of Sweden , including Finland, as Magnus VII King of Norway , including Iceland and Greenland, and also ruled Scania . He has also vindictively been called Magnus Smek...


Union of Magnus Eriksson

Magnus used the symbols frequently, probably to mark his three kingdoms; Sweden, Norway and Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

. At the middle of the 14th century, neighbouring Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

's severe financial problems caused most of the country to pe pawned to German princes, primarily Gerhard III
Gerhard III
Gerhard III of Holstein . Sometimes called “Gerhard the Great”. In Denmark also known as “Count Gert” or “den kullede greve” . A German prince who was the ruler of most part of Denmark during the Interregnum 1332–1340.His father was Henry I of Schauenburg and Holstein-Rendsburg...

 and John III. Since Denmark's king was forced in exile in 1332, the Danish Archbishop in Lund
-Main sights:During the 12th and 13th centuries, when the town was the seat of the archbishop, many churches and monasteries were built. At its peak, Lund had 27 churches, but most of them were demolished as result of the Reformation in 1536. Several medieval buildings remain, including Lund...

 requested that Magnus become king of the Scanian provinces of Denmark. Magnus redeemed the pawn from John III and was sworn in as king of Scania the same year. Since he had also ambitions of redeeming the rest of Denmark, the crowns marked his dignity as king of three realms.

Although Denmark was reconsolidated under King Valdemar Atterdag in 1340 and regained its territory, and Norway left the union with Sweden in 1380, the following Swedish kings continued to use the union coat of arms with the three crowns. An alternative, less well-supported theory suggests that the three crowns are the three kingdoms in the traditional title of the Swedish king, king of Swedes, Goths
King of the Goths
The title of King of the Goths was for many centuries borne by both the Kings of Sweden and the Kings of Denmark, denoting sovereignty or claimed sovereignty over the antique people of the Goths....

 and Wends
King of the Wends
The title of King of the Wends denoted sovereignty or claims over once-Slavic lands of southern coasts of the Baltic Sea, those otherwise called Mecklenburg, Holstein and Pomerania, and was used from 12th century to 1972 by Kings of Denmark and from ca 1540 to 1973 by the Kings of Sweden.The...

. (the two last of which he held in competition with the Danish king). This explanation may represent a re-interpretation from this period.

Kalmar Union

When the Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
The Kalmar Union is a historiographical term meaning a series of personal unions that united the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway , and Sweden under a single monarch, though intermittently and with a population...

, the personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 between Denmark, Norway and Sweden, was instituted by Queen Margrete I in 1397, the three crowns symbol reverted to its use as a symbol of the union of the three realms. Thus, her successor, Eric of Pomerania
Eric of Pomerania
Eric of Pomerania KG was King Eric III of Norway Norwegian Eirik, King Eric VII of Denmark , and as Eric King of Sweden...

 used a coat of arms quartered between the coats of arms of Denmark (three blue lions on a golden shield), Norway (a golden lion with an axe on a red shield) and Sweden (a golden lion on blue and white wavy stripes) plus the union mark with the three golden crowns on a blue shield, which is also the case for the following union Kings in the 15th century.

Use in Sweden

Since the three crowns had been used in Sweden between the unions, both King Karl Knutsson Bonde who periodically drew Sweden out of the Kalmar Union, and King Gustav Vasa who terminated it in 1521, used the crowns - quartered with the lion - as a symbol of Sweden, and this has been the case to the present day. Since the 15th century the crowns have been regarded as the "main" arms of Sweden and thus can be used independently as the lesser coat of arms of the country.

The symbol is known to have been placed atop the mighty central tower of the castle Tre Kronor
Tre kronor (castle)
Tre Kronor or Three Crowns was a castle located in Stockholm, Sweden, on the site where Stockholm Palace is today. It is believed to have been a citadel that Birger Jarl built into a royal castle in the middle of the 13th century...

 (Three Crowns) in Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, destroyed by fire in 1697, no later than the early 16th century.

The Three Crowns Conflict

Since the end of the Kalmar Union the Danish kings had not used the Three Crowns, but around 1550 King Christian III
Christian III of Denmark
Christian III reigned as king of Denmark and Norway. He was the eldest son of King Frederick I and Anna of Brandenburg.-Childhood:...

 revived the symbol in his coat of arms, arguing that it was originally a symbol of the now defunct union, and thus he had as much a right as the Swedish king to use it.

In Sweden, on the other hand, the Three Crowns were regarded as an exclusively Swedish symbol; this led to a long-lasting diplomatic conflict between the two countries, the so-called Three Crowns Conflict with Sweden (possibly justly) accusing Denmark of imperialism by using a Swedish symbol, and Denmark accusing Sweden of monopolizing the use of a Scandinavian union symbol.

This conflict played a role at the outbreak of the Northern Seven Years War in 1563. At the beginning of the 17th century the conflict was settled with both countries being allowed to use the Three Crowns in their coats of arms, although in Denmark it has a less prominent place in the shield.

Use in Denmark

The notion of "Tre Kroner", Three Crowns, is well-known in Denmark since, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries when naval vessels were often named after heraldic devices, the navy usually had a ship of this name. From here it passed to the naval fort of Trekroner
Trekroner Fort
Trekroner Søfort is a fortification at the entrance to the Copenhagen harbour. It was part of Copenhagen's fortifications....

 guarding the harbour of Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. It was also a common name for farms, causing a new city quarter in Roskilde
Roskilde is the main city in Roskilde Municipality, Denmark on the island of Zealand. It is an ancient city, dating from the Viking Age and is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network....

 to have taken over the name "Trekroner" from one such.

Other three crown designs

Practically identical to the three crowns of Sweden, is that of the flag and crest of the Province of Munster, a region in the south west of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. Like the Swedish model, it comprises two crowns above and one below. These represent the three great duchies
A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess.Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era . In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that unified either partially or completely during the Medieval era...

 of the province, Desmond
County Desmond
The Kingdom of Desmond was an historic kingdom located on the southwestern coast of Ireland. The name is Gaelic in origin - Deas-Mhumhain - which means South Munster...

, Ormond and Thomond
Thomond The region of Ireland associated with the name Thomond is County Clare, County Limerick and north County Tipperary; effectively most of north Munster. The name is used by a variety of establishments and organisations located in , or associated with the region...

. The design was used as the flag of the Lordship of Ireland
Lordship of Ireland
The Lordship of Ireland refers to that part of Ireland that was under the rule of the king of England, styled Lord of Ireland, between 1177 and 1541. It was created in the wake of the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71 and was succeeded by the Kingdom of Ireland...

 between 1171-1541 following the Norman invasion of Ireland
Norman Invasion of Ireland
The Norman invasion of Ireland was a two-stage process, which began on 1 May 1169 when a force of loosely associated Norman knights landed near Bannow, County Wexford...

 until being replaced by the flag of the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...


A similar three crowns design is the crest of the city of Kingston-upon-Hull, a large port in Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, England. This design sees the three crowns stacked vertically and relates back to the Royal charter of 1299. The emblem is used by the city council and the city's two rugby league
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...


The flag of St Edmund consists of three gold crown
Crown (heraldry)
A Crown is often an emblem of the monarchy, a monarch's government, or items endorsed by it; see The Crown. A specific type of crown is employed in heraldry under strict rules....

s on a field of blue (Azure, three crowns Or), and features as the three crowns of East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

, on the baptismal font
Baptismal font
A baptismal font is an article of church furniture or a fixture used for the baptism of children and adults.-Aspersion and affusion fonts:...

 (c.1400) in Saxmundham
Saxmundham is a small market town in Suffolk, England. It is set in the valley of the River Fromus, a tributary of the River Alde, approximately northeast of Ipswich and west of the coast at Sizewell. The town is bypassed by the A12 and is served by Saxmundham railway station on the East Suffolk...

's parish church in Suffolk, UK.

The first corporate coat-of-arms was granted in 1439 to the Drapers' Company in London with three triple crowns. Three crowns also form the logo of Coutts & Co
Coutts & Co. is one of the UK's private banking houses, now wholly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland . RBS acquired Coutts and all of its overseas subsidiaries when it bought NatWest. On 1 January 2008, Coutts' international businesses were renamed RBS Coutts, aligning them more closely with...

, the London based private bankers, but in this case the design comprises one crown at the top, with two below.
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