The White Lion came to The Queen through Edward IV who inherited the creature from his grandmother, heiress of the Mortimers. Although Edward sometimes used the White Lion as a supporter of his Royal Arms, unlike the Lion of England the White Lion of Mortimer has no crown and its tongue and claws are blue rather than red. In heraldry lions are often ‘rampant’, standing with forepaws raised, but the Lion of Mortimer is often shown sitting rather like a tamed dog with its tail between its legs.
The White Lion of The Queen’s Beasts holds a Yorkist shield of blue and ‘murrey’ or mulberry colour with a ‘white rose ensoleil’, a white rose on a golden sun, combining emblems that were used by both Edward IV and Richard III. It was a badge used by George VI, The Queen’s father, when he was Duke of York.
Since 2017 The Royal Mint has reimagined a number of Her Majesty The Queen’s heraldic beasts through a series known as The Queen’s Beasts Collection. This exciting series draws its inspiration from the ten Queen’s Beasts statues that stood guard at Westminster Abbey on the day of The Queen’s coronation in 1953. The statues’ sculptor, James Woodford, is also responsible for the famous Robin Hood statues at Nottingham Castle.
The Royal Mint’s Queen’s Beasts Collection has proven to be popular, with a number of editions having sold out over the years. The White Lion of Mortimer (sometimes known as the White Lion of March) is the seventh beast in the series. It comes to The Queen through Edward IV, the first of the Yorkist kings. The beast stands proudly beside a shield bearing the white rose of the House of York imposed over a shining sun.