The College of Arms is the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of the Commonwealth including Australia and New Zealand.
As well as being responsible for the granting of new coats of arms, the College maintains registers of arms, pedigrees, genealogies, Royal Licences, changes of name, and flags. The heralds, besides having ceremonial duties, advise on all matters relating to the peerage and baronetage, precedence, honours and ceremonial as well as national and community symbols including flags.
Coats of Arms
Coats of arms belong to specific individuals and families and there is no such thing as a coat of arms for a family name. From their origins in the twelfth century to the present day arms have been borne by individuals, and by corporate bodies, as marks of identification. They have also been used to denote other characteristics, which have changed over the centuries as as society and culture have evolved. New coats of arms have since the fifteenth century been granted both to individuals and corporate bodies by the senior heralds in Royal service, the Kings of Arms.