Royalty and St George & The Dragon – The Top 10 Facts

I’ve felt surrounded by Georges and Dragons lately! So my friends in our Museum have helped me pull together these Top 10 Facts about them, that I think you really need to know…

  1. Our flagship coin, the Sovereign, is known and recognised throughout the world. It’s our most famous coin and shows St George, the patron saint of England for more than 650 years. We are thrilled that in 2013 this is a real tribute to the new Royal baby Prince George!
  2. The legend of St George and the Dragon symbolises the triumph of good over evil. It’s been familiar for many centuries, for instance in colourful wall paintings in medieval churches and on the badges of pilgrims.
  3. The St George and the Dragon design by Benedetto Pistrucci was first used on gold Sovereigns in 1817. His neo-classical depiction is a masterpiece and has appeared on the coinage of every British monarch since George III, with the single exception of William IV (1830-1837).
  4. The Royal Birth £5 Crown is the first time in over 100 years that Pistrucci’s St George and the Dragon has appeared on a silver crown. It was last seen on a silver coin for the Coronation year of Edward VII in 1902.
  5. St George and the Dragon first appeared on the English coinage in the reign of King Henry VIII. These ‘George nobles’ are very rare and much desired by collectors.
  6. Six Kings have been named George, the first four reigning in succession from 1714 to 1830. George V was The Queen’s grandfather and George VI was her father, who died in 1952. Only Henry and Edward have featured more frequently as Kings’ names, both appearing eight times.
  7. George V was the founder of the Windsor Dynasty in 1917. He used a version of St George and the Dragon for his Silver Jubilee crown in 1935.
  8. With the personal approval of George VI (The Queen’s father) a version of Pistrucci’s design was used for the centre of the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian award for gallantry. At the same time another version of St George and the Dragon was used for the reverse of the George Medal, based on the bookplate used in the Royal Library at Windsor.
  9. St George and the Dragon also appeared in 1663 in the design on the reverse of the famous petition crown of Charles II (now on loan from our own collection to the exhibition at the Tower of London).
  10. St George and the Dragon is also familiar as the badge of the Order of the Garter, Britain’s oldest order of chivalry dating back over 650 years to the reign of Edward III. The link with the Royal Family is emphasised by the location of St George’s Chapel within the walls of Windsor Castle.

I hope you now feel much more enlightened about St George, his Dragon and how they relate to sovereigns and Sovereign coins!

To see the 2013 range of gold Sovereigns featuring the original Pistrucci design, take a look at The Royal Mint’s website

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  • jonathan morris

    Hi Joanne !
    Why has the streamer been omitted on one die but not the others in the gold series ?
    It was missing on the George IV sovereign but restored later.
    Regards,
    Jonathan.

    • THE ROYAL MINT

      Hi Jonathan

      Thanks for the great question – it’s good to know people really look at coin designs! I’m speaking to my friends in the Museum and our Chief Engraver about this and will get back to you as soon as I have all the info!

    • joanne thomas

      Hi Jonathan, I’m really sorry it’s taken so long to get a full reply to you, but actually there’s not that much to say about this – I’ve been informed that there is no particular significance to this, it is just a feature of the design. I suppose that’s design for you!

  • Talaith Gwyrdd

    Never liked the George and dragon story. For me it is a typical male brute murdering an innocent animal. Long live dragons and down with hunters! Especially religious ones.

    • http://www.royalmint.com/ JOANNE THOMAS

      Hi Talaith
      well, as one Welsh woman to another, I certainly agree with you about ‘Long live Dragons’! Thanks for your reaction to my blog, it livens things up to get alternative angles on stories. Hope to hear more from you in future, keep the interesting comments coming!

  • Simon Diggins

    You might also like to know that St.George is revered throughout the Muslim world where he goes under the name of the ‘Green Knight’. Many shrines to St.George, especially in the Northern Syria/Iraq area, are dual religion. Given that the historic St.George, and yes he did exist, was from Palestine, he is a most appropriate Patron Saint for multi-cultural England

    • http://www.royalmint.com/ JOANNE THOMAS

      Hi Simon
      thanks so much for this further information about St George – it was news to me and I’m sure to many others too. As you say, St George is clearly ever-more relevant in today’s UK. What a great choice he was!

  • http://www.anupamgoyal.com Anupam Goyal, Ph.D.

    Triumph of Good over evil signifies the eternal principle and spiritual truth that is unchanging across space and time, as symbolized by St George’s triumph.

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