Armorial of Governors-General and Presidents of South Africa

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Many of the governors-general and presidents of South Africa have borne arms; either through inheritance, registration with the South African Bureau of Heraldry or via membership in foreign orders of chivalry, such as the Danish Order of the Elephant and the Swedish Order of the Seraphim.

Arms of the governors-general of South Africa[edit]

Arms Name of Governor-General and Blazon
Coat of Arms of William Gladstone, 7th Baronet.svg Herbert Gladstone, 1st Viscount Gladstone, Governor-General of South Africa, 1910–1914

Argent, a savage's head affronté dripping blood and wreathed about the temples with holly proper, all within an orle flory Gules within eight martlets Sable.

Crest: Issuant from a wreath of holly proper a demi-gryphon Sable supporting between the claws a sword enfiled with a wreath of oak all proper.

Ancestral arms.

Sydney Charles Buxton, 1st Earl Buxton, Governor-General of South Africa, 1914–1920

Argent, a lion rampant tail elevated and turned over the head between two mullets in fess Sable.

Crest : A buck's head Gules attired Or gorged with a collar of the last, pendant therefrom an escutcheon Argent charged with an African negro's head proper.

Motto : Do it with thy might.

Supporters : Dexter a negro wreathed about the tenples and waist with oak, hold-ing in the exterior hand a poplar leaf proper, pendant from a gold cord about the neck an escutcheon Argent charged with a carrier pigeon volant also proper; sin-ister a buck Gules attired Or, pendant from the neck by a gold cord a shield Argent charged with a ship in full sail on the sea proper.

Ancestral arms, the supporters being modified for him.

Coat of Arms of Arthur of Connaught 1917-1938.svg Prince Arthur of Connaught, Governor-General of South Africa, 1920–1923

The Royal Arms of the United Kingdom differenced with a label of five points Argent charged with three crosses Gules alternating with two fleurs de lis Azure.

Crest : The Royal Crest with a prince's coronet substituted for the crown.

Supporters  : The Royal Supporters, each engorged with a label as in the arms, and the lion crowned with a prince's coronet instead of the crown.

Motto : Dieu et mon droit.

These arms were granted to him by King Edward VII in 1904. Until 1917 the featured an inescutcheon of the arms of Saxony, which were dropped via Royal warrant in 1917.

Coat of arms of the 1st Earl of Athlone.svg Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone, Governor-General of South Africa, 1924–1930

Quarterly I & IV the arms of King George II of Great Britain differenced with a label of three points argent charged with a cross between two hearts Gules; II & III Per pale dexter Or three stags attires in pale Sable, and sinister three lions passant in pale Sable the dexter forelegs Gules [Württemberg], over all an inscutcheon paly bendy sinister Sable and Or [Teck]; over all a crescent Sable for difference.

Crest : A dog's head and neck paly bendy sinister Sa-ble and Or, a crescent for difference.

Supporters : Dexter a lion Sable the dexter forepaw Gules, sinister a stag proper, both with a crescent for difference.

Ancestral arms.

Clarendon escutcheon.png George Villiers, 7th Earl of Clarendon, Governor-General of South Africa, 1931–1937

Argent, on a cross Gules five escallops Or.

Crest : A lion rampant Argent ducally crowned Or.

Supporters : Two eagles Sable ducally crowned or, each charged on the breast with a cross Argent.

Motto : Fidei coticula crux.

Ancestral arms.

Sir Patrick Duncan, Governor-General of South Africa, 1937–1943

No arms known.

Nicolaas Jacobus de Wet, Acting Governor-General of South Africa, 1943–1945

No arms known.

Brand van Zyl Escutcheon.png Gideon Brand van Zyl, Governor-General of South Africa, 1946–1951

He is said to have used the arms of the Van Zyl family of Utrecht (Netherlands).[1] They are :

Per pale, dexter Argent three chess-rooks Sable; sinister Or three wolfhooks Sable.

Crest : Issuant from a coronet heightened of eight pearls, a demi-swan wings elevated Argent.

Ernest George Jansen, Governor-General of South Africa, 1951–1959

No arms known

Charles Robberts Swart, Governor-General of South Africa, 1960–1961

No arms known

Arms of the presidents of South Africa[edit]

Arms Name of President and Blazon
Charles Robberts Swart, State President of South Africa, 1961–1967

No arms known

Jacobus Johannes Fouche, State President of South Africa, 1968–1975

No arms known

Nicolaas Diederichs, State President of South Africa, 1975–1978

No arms known.

B.J. Vorster, State President of South Africa, 1978–1979

No arms known

Marais Viljoen, State President of South Africa, 1979–1984

No arms known

P.W. Botha, State President of South Africa, 1984–1989

Argent a Seventeenth Century three master Sailing Ship, pennants flotant Gules, the masthead pennant tierced Orange, White and Blue, the Mainsail charged with a Maltese Cross Or, a Chief Nowy Gably Azure

Crest: On a grassy Mount Or, in front of a Ship's wheel Gules, a Sword erect Or, hil ted and pomelled Azure.

Motto: WAAGMOED EN GELOOF. ('Courage and faith')

Registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry in 1987.[2]

File:Coat of Arms of F.W. de Klerk.gif Frederik de Klerk, State President of South Africa, 1989–1994

Azure a Fess the upper edge per chevron embowed and the lower edge embowed Or issuant from the peak a Protea Flower also Or, seeded and leaved Argent, in base a Huguenot Cross of the last

Crest: On a mount Gules, in front of the Upper part of a Ship's Wheel Azure, a Quill erect with a demi-fleur de lys issuant Argent, penned Gules.


Registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry in 1992.[3]

Mandelaarms2.jpgCoat of Arms of Nelson Mandela (Order of Isabella the Catholic).svg Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, 1994–1999

He has not assumed personal arms, but the following have been used to represent him in the armorials of the Order of the Elephant and the Order of the Seraphim, to which orders he has been admitted :

Tierced per pall Sable, Gules and Azure, a pall Vert fimbriated in chief Or and dexter and sinister Argent

Motto: Ex Unitate Vires (Latin: 'Unity is Strength') – as a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim; or: ǃke e꞉ ǀxarra ǁke (ǀXam: 'Diverse Peoples Unite') – as a Knight of the Order of the Elephant:

These arms are simply the national Flag of South Africa depicted in shield form. [4] [5]

As a Knight of the Spanish Order of Isabel the Catholic; he used the crest:


Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, 1999–2008

No arms known

Kgalema Motlanthe, President of South Africa, 2008–2009

No arms known

Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, 2009–2018

No arms known


  1. Van Zijl, J.C. "Die Familie Van Zijl in Suid-Afrika" in Familia Vol 11 (1965/66)
  2. -the Arms of President Botha, from the database of the Bureau of Heraldry
  3. -the Arms of President de Klerk, from the database of the Bureau of Heraldry
  4. -the Arms of President Mandela as a Knight of the Order of the Elephant
  5.—the Arms of President Mandela as a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim

See also[edit]

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