On my first trip to Scotland, in November of 2002, I was about to enter Edinburgh Castle’s vast complex when I was told by the admission staff that certain areas would be off-limits to me as The Queen, as in Elizabeth II, was inside conducting her annual inspection of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (sadly the RSDG are no longer as the Scottish Regiments have been ‘consolidated’ in a Whitehall decision to economize – just brilliant). Personally, I have nothing against Scotland having a monarch, I am just not a believer that the Queen (or King as it may be) of England has the right to Scotland’s throne. In any case, I was plain in expressing that my limited access would be just fine. There is a lure, as anyone with an ounce of Scottish romanticism can attest, to the haunting sound of bagpipes. Imagine for an instant being within the walls of this ancient fortress - not during The Tattoo – just an ordinary cold, grey day and hearing not one, but an assembled mass with drums and feeling the power and awe of such. Wouldn’t you follow the sound? Of course you would! And that is how I found myself standing on the backside of an interior court, in an ancient arched doorway, thrilling to the sound and watching the Queen review the RSDG. With a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and gooseflesh rippling down my spine I stood transfixed with exactly one other person. (Later as the Queen left I was four feet from her car and captured the picture seen in ‘More Views’.) I also recall that the Lion Rampant was flying over Edinburgh Castle that day – according to everything I have read since, it shouldn’t have been.
Some 30,000 years ago Ice Age man in Lascaux chose to represent a pride of lions hunting on the walls of their caves. The royal symbolism of the lion was taken up repeatedly in later history, in order to claim power, many images from ancient times depict lionesses as the fierce warrior protecting their culture, a red lion on a gold or green field is also the symbol of C.S. Lewis' fictional kingdom of Narnia. Of all the historic use of lions to represent majesty I believe the most special is that of the Royal Standard of Scotland. The lion, regarded as the king of the beasts, is a common charge in heraldry, as it traditionally symbolizes bravery, valour, strength, and royalty. It has been suggested that the Lion Rampant was first devised by Malcolm III in 1061, the central lion-rampant motif also being used by Irish clans who claim a place in the Milesian genealogies in common with Malcolm III. But it’s really in the 12th century under William I of Scotland, the Lyon, and subsequently his son Alexander II, that the Lion Rampant standard came to be synonymous the King of Scots.
What Malcolm Appleby has done so brilliantly his whole life is to take the obvious, almost common, elements which surround us and infuse them with drama and a fresh interpretation in gold, in silver, using precious stones and elements not usually thought of as enhancing fine jewellery. Malcolm’s adaption of Scotland’s rearing, three paws off the ground Lion Rampant is another masterpiece of his studied hand and keen eye. The face of the diamond shaped cufflinks feature a complicated braided border to frame his snarling lion, the backs feature a full faced sun (never resting from diligence) both on the reverse as well as the ‘button’ at the end of each four link chain. Thistle & Broom is obviously delighted to add Malcolm’s Lion Rampant cufflinks to our small collection of precious metal jewellery. French cuffed dress shirts will never look more regal, perfect as groom’s gifts, wedding gifts, for a special anniversary or to mark accomplishment. To ensure the integrity of your purchase, as with all of Malcolm’s objects of desire, these bear hallmarks from Edinburgh’s Assay Office.
Because of my association with the Lion Rampant and Edinburgh Castle, and the sacrifices of Scottish warriors throughout the ages your purchase of the Lion Rampant cufflinks will serve to benefit the Scottish National War Memorial.