The Elizabeth Sword is named after the late Queen Elizabeth. It was commissioned with the support of Scottish Government on the initiative of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Scotland's chief heraldic officer. It was formally presented to King Charles III in July 2023.  Following this it was used during the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication at St Giles Cathedral on Wednesday 5th July 2023 Here, it was presented ceremonially to King Charles III along with the Crown and Sceptre, which are part of the Honours of Scotland.

The sword takes inspiration from both thistles and the Scottish landscape. Features include a pommel of Lewisian gneiss (a type of metamorphic rock) and a scabbard of Perthshire oak. Engraved on one side of the blade is the Royal motto, “In my defens God me defend”. The motto of the Order of the Thistle, “Nemo me impune lacessit”, is engraved on the other side.

Many craftspeople contributed to creating the sword. These include Mark Dennis (designer), Paul Mcdonald and Dane Vogelpohl (sword makers), Professor Godfrey Fitton and Dr Mairghread Ellis (Scottish Mineralogy and Lapidary Society), Alan Herriot MRSS (sculptor) and Dr Colin Morrison-Ignatieff (silversmith).

The sword will be used on ceremonial occasions in place of the 16th century Scottish Sword of State. This was gifted to James IV by Pope Julius in 1507. It is no longer in use due to its fragile condition but continues to form part of the Honours of Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle has witnessed many of the defining events in Scotland’s history. Sieges were fought over the mighty stronghold. Royalty lived and died within its walls. Just the sight of the Castle Rock has terrified and inspired countless generations.

Fierce Iron Age warriors defended a hill fort here, and the nation’s oldest poetry tells of a war band feasting here for a year before riding to their deaths in battle.

The castle’s royal connections go back 1,000 years, and the city’s oldest building stands on the site. David I built St Margaret’s Chapel around 1130, as a tribute to his devout mother.

Edinburgh has been besieged more than any other castle in Europe, and the Scots and English struggled over its control during the Wars of Independence. In 1314, Thomas Randolph, a relative of Robert the Bruce, led a daring night raid to reclaim it from the English.

Over the last 200 years, Edinburgh Castle has become a national icon. Today it is Scotland’s leading tourist attraction and a chief element of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Home of royalty

Scottish monarchs commissioned grand buildings here – both as secure lodgings and to show off their wealth, power and good taste. The castle’s royal role continues today.

Monarchs who sheltered here include:

  • Queen Margaret (later St Margaret), who died here in 1093
  • Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566

Edinburgh was among Scotland’s chief royal residences during the 1400s and 1500s.

Bonnie Prince Charlie – Mary’s great-great-great grandson – captured Edinburgh but failed to take the castle during the 1745–46 Jacobite Rising.

Army headquarters

Edinburgh Castle became more important as a military base from the late 1500s onwards.

After the ‘Lang Siege’ of 1571–3, the castle’s military strength was repaired, maintained and improved. Additions included:

  • the distinctive Half Moon Battery
  • a huge garrison
  • a secure jail for prisoners of war

The military presence remains unbroken – Edinburgh Castle is still an active base today. It also houses three military museums, the Scottish National War Memorial and the Prisons of War exhibition.

Find out more about Edinburgh Castle


Date Made
1470 x 439mm
Property Information
Edinburgh Castle
Object Number
Access Status