The lesser arms of Sweden

Sweden - The Three Crowns

The Three Crowns (in Swedish known as the Tre Kronor) is a national emblem of Sweden. It is in the Coat of Arms of the Realm of Sweden, specifically the small coat of arms. The emblem is composed of three yellow or gilded coronets arranged with two above and one below on a blue background. This emblem has been utilised by Sweden since at least 1336. As there are three crowns this has led to speculation about the symbolism:

•The crowns are representation of the three crowned gods of Uppsala;the city of Uppsala has been the seat of a holy place even before the times of Christianity.
•The crowns represent the three areas of Uppland (the area around Uppsala);these areas had the right to take part in the election of the king.
•The three crowns are representations of the Three Wise Men (or Holy Kings).
•The crowns are just a representation of the king's power, and the number three is without significance.
•Magnus Eriksson was once king of Sweden. Magnus inherited the crown of Norway from his grandfather Haakon V of Norway, and then gained the Swedish crown as his father was the brother of the king of Sweden. In the 1330s king Magnus bought Scania from Denmark, and consequently used the title King of Sweden, Norway and Scania. The three crowns may represent King Magnus' three kingdoms.

The Three Crowns are recorded as ringing the shield of Magnus Ladulås (a Swedish king), right back from the late 13th century.

The actual arms with three crowns have been also found in a fresco in Avignon, commemorating a meeting of cardinals, which took place in 1336.

It is known that the arms with three crowns were first used in a seal of a Swedish king Albrecht in 1364. Soon after this, the emblem became the arms of Sweden, rather than the arms of the dynasty in power.

Regardless of how the Three Crowns originated, the emblem is often used as a symbol of authority by the Swedish government and by Swedish embassies in other countries.

The three crowns on Stockholm's City Hall.

The emblem is used in less formal and formal roles:

•The Swedish national men's ice hockey team, wear the symbol on their sweaters and usually three blue crowns on a yellow shirt. Consequently this national team have been called ‘Three Crowns’.
•The emblem can be found atop the Stockholm City Hall.
• The Three Crowns are used as the roundel on Swedish Air Force military aircraft.
•This emblem is also used as a sign on Swedish military equipment in general.
•The Three Crowns also appear on the uniforms and vehicles of the Swedish Police Service.

In the 1550s, King Gustav Vasa of Sweden learnt that the Danish King Christian III had added The Three Crowns to his own coat of arms. Gustav thought this was Christian III's sign of intending to conquer Sweden and resurrect the union. Christian argued that since the monarchs of the Union had used it, the symbol belonged to both kingdoms.

In Sweden The Three Crowns were regarded as exclusively Swedish;this led to a long-lasting diplomatic conflict. From the beginning of the 17th century both countries agreed they may each use The Three Crowns in their coats of arms.

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