Kate Middleton's Coat of Arms Explained

04/19/2011 at 01:45 PM EDT

Kate Middleton, Coat of Arms
Kate Middleton's Coat of Arms
AP; Inset: REX USA
Weddings are always family affairs, and Kate Middleton's is no different.

With just over a week to go before she marries Prince William, Kate, 29, and her family have been granted a traditional coat of arms, which was unveiled Tuesday.

Three acorns, symbolizing the Middleton children, and a flash of gold to represent Kate's mother, Carole, are at the heart of the design. But there's more meaning to the choice of imagery than meets the eye.

In addition to signifying the princess-to-be and her siblings Pippa, 27, and James, 24, the acorns also hark back to the oak trees that grow near Kate's home in Bucklebury, Berkshire.





Puns are also traditional in heraldry design, so the designers at the College of Arms used gold for the thick band in the middle to represent Carole's maiden name: Goldsmith.

The two white chevrons on each side of the band are meant to denote hills and mountains and represent "outdoor pursuits that the family enjoy together," according to a statement released Tuesday. The blue ribbon above the shield-like design signifies an unmarried daughter.

This coat of arms, which will stay with the Middletons, will be merged with Prince William's when the couple is married, and a new design will be constructed for the Princess (a process that takes several months).

The Middleton family "took enormous interest in this design and, while its purpose is to provide a traditional heraldic identity for Catherine as she marries into the Royal Family, the intent was to represent the whole family together, their home and aspects of what they enjoy," says Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms at the College of Arms.

"Every Coat of Arms has been designed to identify a person, school or organization, and is to last forever," he adds. "Heraldry is Europe's oldest, most visual and strictly regulated form of identity and it surrounds us in Britain, giving clues to our history and surroundings."

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