The Queen's Beast - Red Dragon of Wales | The Royal Mint

The Red Dragon Advances

The Red Dragon of Wales is the latest release in The
Queen’s Beasts Collection. Here you can learn more
about how the dragon became a part of Her Majesty
The Queen’s heritage and discover the inspiration
behind Jody Clark’s modern design.

The Red Dragon of Wales

Dragons are one of the best known mythical beasts. They are associated with strength, wisdom and power; these intimidating traits made the dragon a popular choice in heraldry.

The dragon was mentioned in Welsh chronicles as early as the sixth century, interwoven with the legend of King Arthur and his father Uther Pendragon. But it is the Red Dragon of The Queen’s Beasts that came to represent the nation of Wales, as an emblem of Owen Tudor, Henry VII’s grandfather.

The troops of Henry VII carried a fiery red dragon standard at the Battle of Bosworth, which resulted in Henry securing the crown of England. The Tudor dynasty was born, creating a long line of British monarchs that dramatically shaped the nation’s history.

In 1953, more than four centuries later, at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, the Red Dragon of Wales took its place as one of The Queen’s Beasts. In the same year, the badge of Wales was ‘augmented’ or modified as a mark of honour, to include the motto ‘Y ddraig goch ddyry cychawyn’ or ‘The red dragon advances’, once again reinforcing Her Majesty’s connection to Wales.

Meet the Designer

Jody Clark is the youngest designer to have created a definitive coinage portrait of Her Majesty The Queen. Jody is in a rare position as a modern coin designer, as his designs can be found on both sides of several new coins, like those in The Queen’s Beasts Collection. We asked Jody about the collection and how he approached the design for the Red Dragon of Wales.

Why did the theme of heraldry appeal to you?

“I’ve always been interested in fantastic beasts, you can ask my mum! I think most children love fairy tales and stories about lions, dragons and unicorns; they’ve got a timeless appeal.”

How do you approach creating your designs?

“I start by hitting the internet and reading books to look at what has been done before and to gather reference imagery and inspiration. I think you can spend all day doing research, especially for a subject like heraldry, it’s never-ending.

What did you have to consider in your design for the Red Dragon of Wales?

“I looked at lots of heraldic influences and at how dragons have been treated in different cultures. My design is based on Western art but I also looked at Asian designs. The dragon is in profile, which is how it is often presented in heraldry, in The Queen’s Beasts statues and on the Welsh flag.

“Although the dragon isn’t a real creature, I could still take inspiration from real animals. I researched lizards, crocodiles and snakes and tried lots of different approaches until I got the look I wanted. I wanted the beasts in the collection to feel fantastical but also have realistic elements. I think the static shield at the centre of the coin gives a contrast to the beast, with the dragon’s tail and claws curling around the shield giving the design a sense of movement.

The Red Dragon of Wales 2018 UK Coin

The Red Dragon Advances


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