Aristocratic Tattoos Through the Ages
Tattoos might have fallen in and out of favor with the common man over the centuries, but there is much evidence to suggest that over the centuries, our aristocratic ancestors have enjoyed a long love affair with tattoos.
One of the most amazing examples of ancient royal tattoos is the 2500-year-old mummified Siberian “Princess Ukok” who was discovered in 1993. The princess’s body is covered in intricate tattoos, which demonstrates how important the ancients regarded the inking of tattoos on their noble rulers.
Present day members of ancient African tribes, and other tribes across the world, still bestow their kingly rulers with special tattoos signifying their high royal status.
In the UK, the royal family’s association with tattoos dates back at least to the 10th and 11th centuries when the Saxon Kings held sway.
In particular, there is the well-known account of Saxon King Harold II who was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. When William the Conqueror asked for positive identification of King Harold’s body, his mistress, Edith, came forward.
She pointed to the dead king’s tattoos inked upon his chest, namely:” Edith” and “England”.
The Middle Ages
While it seems that the early Norman Kings weren’t into tattoos, in the centuries following the conquest, there are records of kings such as English King Richard the Lion Heart, (1189-99), and King Henry IV, (1367-1413), sporting body tattoos.
Then in Russia, both Peter the Great, (1689-1725), and Catherine the Great, (1729-1796), are known to have had tattoos inked on their bodies.
The Victorian era and beyond
In 1691 the British explorer, William Dampier, brought a heavily tattooed South Sea Islander to the court of William and Mary in London, but it was another century before British aristocrats renewed their love affair with Tattoos.
It occurred when Captain Cook presented “Omai”, a tattooed Polynesian warrior, to the court of King George III in 1774.
This started the ball rolling amongst the aristocracy of the day; and some ninety years later, the Prince of Wales, who was to become King Edward VII, had a Jerusalem Cross imprinted on his right arm, following a visit to Jerusalem in 1862.
Then Edward’s two sons, Prince Edward and Prince George, (later George V), followed their father’s lead. During a visit to Japan they both had dragon tattoos inked on the arms, and on their way home, they stopped off at the very same artist that their father had used, and added the Jerusalem Crosses to their dragons.
History does not record what Queen Victoria thought about it all, but we can probably guess…
By the mid to late nineteenth Century, the highest echelons of British and European Royalty were now boldly inking their skins. The number of royal personages who had their bodies tattooed over the next hundred years is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of European nobles.
King Alexander of Yugoslavia, King Alphonso of Spain, King George II of Greece, King George V of Britain, Prince Rudolph of Austria, Prince and Princess Valdemar of Denmark, Queen Olga of Greece, King Oscar of Sweden, The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the King of Romania, King Alexander of Yugoslavia, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and even his cousin Czar Nicholas of Russia, all subjected their bodies to the ink.
Many of the tattoos that were inked on these esteemed bodies were depictions of elaborate royal coats of arms or royal family crests. But a few of these royal personages went much further, such as King Alexander of Yugoslavia, who had a large eagle tattooed on his chest, or The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and his cousin Alexis of Russia both of whom had many elaborate tattoos covering most of their bodies.
Even the female aristocracy of the late 19th – early 20th-century society, such as Lady Randolph Churchill (the mother of Winston Churchill) and Queen Olga of Greece weren’t averse to having the odd tasteful tattoo inked on their bodies.
In more recent times we have Crown Frederik of Denmark and Princess Stephanie of Monaco. In the UK, many sons and daughters of present day royalty openly display their tattoos at public events. Prince Charles himself, the next King of England, has by all accounts embraced the art of tattooing.
Tattoos have become so much the norm in high society, that hardly an eye is turned when the great and good proudly parade their tattoos at events such as Royal Ascot, or Queen Elizabeth’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace.
There is no doubt that Royalty – along with the rest of society – have fully embraced the art of tattooing, an art form that is becoming ever more acceptable in all societies across the world at large.
The Crown – The Most Regal of Royal Designs
Of course, there is a world of difference between the tattoos that modern day royalty may choose to wear, and the so-called ‘royal designs’ that we ordinary folk like to ink on our bodies.
But by far and away the most common ‘Royal Tattoo’ is the crown itself. The crown, which is worn by royalty and commoners alike, can mean different things to different people.
A crown worn by a royal personage symbolizes power, wealth, and sovereignty, and even omnipotence. Indeed, in some ancient cultures, people wearing crown tattoos were often regarded as all-powerful Gods.
Other crown tattoo meanings include leadership, longevity, and good luck. When tattooed along with other tattoo designs, the crown adds strength and greater importance to the tattoo’s original meaning.
Tattooed crowns come in all shapes and sizes. Firstly, we have the traditionally shaped crown, with a number of tapered points arranged around the circular circumference.
Crowns often favored by Christians may comprise a crown of thorns, representing the crown placed on Jesus’s head at the crucifixion, or maybe a crown with a cross at its apex. It may also be a crown with a ‘halo’ above it, signifying divinity.
Those opting for religious crowns often choose them because they symbolize their struggles, their sacrifices, and their achievements.
Then there are the Roman crowns, with circlets of leaves and vines.
People who love to wear the macabre, or are into gothic tattoos, may even go as far as to ink a crown with a skull on their body.
If you were born under the zodiac sign of Leo, you may opt for a tattoo featuring a lion – the king of animals –proudly wearing his crown.
Crown tattoos, large and small can be placed just about anywhere on your body. Large crowns can be inked on your chest, or back, with smaller ones on your arms, shoulders, and legs, and very small ones tattooed on the back of your neck, or ankle.
Crown tattoos sometimes incorporate the name of a loved one or are embellished with designs such as flowers, jewels, or a heart.
Confused? No need to be. At All Day Tattoo in Bangkok, we have all the low-down on these types of designs. We can suggest a crown that will look great on you. We can also use or help develop a design that you bring to us.
All Day Tattoo makes no charge for consultations. Any advice or design work carried out by our artists is also completely free.
At All Day Tattoo’s Bangkok studios, we only charge by the hour for the time taken to ink the agreed designs onto your body.
If you would like to discuss royal tattoos or any other kind of tattoo, why don’t you click on the button below and get your tattoo show on the road?