Dear Julia,

I know Rex is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Since Rex originally selected purple, green and gold this, would be the anniversary of the colors too. What is the truth behind the colors’ origin? – Fred Jones (River Ridge) 

 

There was a time when Poydras argued that the green was in honor of the color of his feathers, but then, on a cruise, he met a wizened sage and learned the truth, something that Poydras had not been familiar with: The key word here, and a word that has been missing from attempts to solve the colors’ origin is – “heraldry.” Dating as far back as the 15th century, the rules of heraldry governed the colors of coats of arms and, hence, flags and banners. In1872, the founding men of Rex, educated and steeped in the romanticism of monarchy, would have been familiar and respectful of heraldry.

​According to heraldry, the “fields” in a heraldic device, such as a flag or banner, should consist of “metals” and “colors.” The metals are either silver, represented by white, or gold. Indeed, every national tri-color has either white or gold. So then, for one of Rex’s choices the selection was narrowed to two. Should the metal be gold? Or should it be white? The choice of gold for royalty seemed obvious.

Now with the metal settled, how about the colors? According to heraldry, there are only five acceptable choices. In the context of Rex, they are startling. The acceptable colors are: red, blue, purple, green and black. With purple being a logical choice, especially for a king, and with gold as the metal, the final choice came down to two combinations: purple, gold and green or purple, gold and black. Which would you pick?

​But now there’s a concern. According to heraldry, a metal should never touch a metal and a color should never touch a color. It would be improper, for example for, a flag to be, red, blue and white. Yet, Rex’s field is often spoken of as being purple, green and gold, a heraldic faux pas placing a color on top of a color. Does this disprove the heraldry theory? No, it supports it because . . . In the days preceding the first Rex parade when the Royal edicts were published, the field, as first mentioned in Edict XII, were stated as being, in this order, “green, gold, and purple.” Over time the order of the colors would be changed in popular verbal usage, yet when Rex first pronounced them, they were in perfect heraldic order. (The combination of colors does have the extra benefit of looking good together).

​Could there be another answer to the meaning of the colors? Perhaps, but any other answer would have to contend with the colors fitting so perfectly into heraldry. 

​What then should the simple answer be when the color’s origin is asked? The problem is that the answer is not simple, certainly not as simple as the prevailing inaccurate answer of “justice, faith and power.” But the truth only strengthens Rex’s monarchical status: Like all great sovereigns, the colors are based on the laws of heraldry.

Case closed.


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