FAQ

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an official Office of Chief Herald of Arms in Malta?

Very much so. The Arms of The Office Of The Chief Herald, were approved by the Cabinet of the Government of Malta on 3rd June 2019; this allowed for the Office to use the National Arms of Malta as per the Emblem and Public Seal of Malta Act (Cap.253).  Use of the National Arms of Malta, which include in them the George Cross,  are severely restricted by law.

Are there any other institutions that have the power to grant arms in Malta?

No.  Only the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta has the power to grant or register Arms. The escutcheons used by local councils fall under separate legislation

Is it required that an individual or an organization wishing to use arms in the Republic of Malta, apply for a grant (or a confirmation or matriculation) of arms, or is it acceptable to use assumed arms?

Anyone in Malta can assume Arms, there is no law against that.  However only Arms granted or registered by the Chief Herald are recognized by the State.   The escutcheons used by local councils fall under separate legislation

How will the Office of Chief Herald promote and promulgate heraldry?

The office of the Chief Herald will maintain an Official archive containing each and every grant, registration, and matriculation, together with all documentation appertaining thereto.  The Chief Herald will give public lectures and contribute articles to learned journals and to the press.  He constantly deals with questions of heraldry which are put to him by various researchers working on Malta‘s cultural heritage.  He will establish contacts with other State-appointed heraldic institutions abroad.

What powers, exactly, did the Board of Directors of Heritage Malta impart on the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta?

By decision of the Board of Directors and in agreement with the Prime Minister’s recommendation, the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta has the power to devise and grant new arms, both personal and corporate, to confirm arms already in use and to register Arms already granted or registered by appropriate foreign heraldic authorities. Additionally, the Chief Herald will guide, advise, warn and consult, particularly where a modification or rehabilitation of present or past arms is required, or where arms unofficially in use may not be conducive to the harmonious rules of heraldic application.

Thus, the letter of appointment of the Chief Herald, signed by the Chief Executive Officer  on 21 March 2019 on behalf of the Board of Directors states inter alia that:

 The Chief Herald of Arms of Malta will have the power to devise and grant new Arms, both corporate and personal, to confirm Arms already in use and to register Arms already granted by appropriate foreign authorities. In order to safeguard, promote and promulgate this intrinsic part of Malta’s heritage, the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta will guide, advise, warn and consult, particularly where a modification or rehabilitation of present or past arms is required or where arms unofficially in use may not be conducive to the harmonious rules of heraldic application.

Does Heritage Malta have the power to establish a new Office and to appoint an officer to that Office?

Yes, the Act of Cultural Heritage states that the Board of Directors has the power to employ and manage the human resources required to achieve the aims of the Agency. Importantly, the Office of Chief Herald was established upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Cultural Heritage Act states that the Minister may make regulations regarding, among other things, the following:

http://www.justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lom&itemid=8911&l=1

If the Act of Cultural Heritage does not say anything about granting, confirming or matriculating arms, what is then the legal framework and basis for the activities of the Office of Chief Herald? Were does its mandate come from?

It comes from the decisions by the Board of Directors of Heritage Malta on the  recommentations of  the Prime Minister. The Cultural Heritage Act specifically and expressly states that one of the functions of the Board of Directors of Heritage Malta is to determine the Agency’s policy and strategy. The Board of Directors has, upon consultations with the Prime Minister, determined that such regulation of heraldry is necessary in order to preserve, safeguard, promote and appreciate heraldry in the best possible way.

Does the Act of Cultural Heritage say anything about regulating heraldry by means of granting, confirming or matriculating arms in Malta?

No, not directly. The Act states, in general terms, that cultural heritage has to be protected, preserved, safeguarded, cared for, promoted etc. The Act also declares that the State has the duty of establishing and maintaining administratory and regulatory structures of superintendence so as to ensure that this heritage is protected and conserved, as well as such other structures as are required for the management of the care, exposition and appreciation of this heritage.

Following presentation of detailed papers to the Prime Minister the establishment of the Office of Chief Herald of Arms of Malta, with the powers to grant and register Arms was accepted by the Cabinet, which decided that the matter be handed to the Minister for Culture. The Minister for Culture delegated the powers agreed to by Cabinet to Heritage Malta.  Heritage Malta, in turn delegated these powers to the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta and these powers were clearly specified in the latter’s letter of appointment. The Chief Herald of Arms of Malta, is, consequently, well authorized to grant and register Arms and to and regulate heraldry in Malta. He also has the right to grant Arms to foreigners, at his discretion, which Arms are fully recognized by the State of Malta.

It is a matter of International law that each Sovereign State has the right to manage things its own way.

Does Heritage Malta have the power to establish a new Office and to appoint an officer to that Office?

Yes, the Act of Cultural Heritage states that the Board of Directors has the power to employ and manage the human resources required to achieve the aims of the Agency. Importantly, the Office of Chief Herald was established upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and the final decision that the establishment of this Office should be entrusted to Heritage Malta was made by the Minister of Culture. The Cultural Heritage Act states that the Minister may make regulations regarding, among other things, the following:

What are the functions of Heritage Malta, relevant to heraldry, that are explicitly mentioned in the Cultural Heritage Act?

They are 1) to promote public knowledge, education, appreciation and enjoyment of the cultural heritage, 2) to consult with Local Councils in the preservation of the cultural heritage in their locality, and 3) to promote and carry out research in the field of cultural heritage. Recall that the term “cultural heritage” encompasses intangible assets which include heraldry:

Does the Cultural Heritage Act mention heraldry at all?

Not explicitly, however the definition of “cultural heritage” clearly encompases heraldry (cf.  the phrase “other intangible assets which have a historical, artistic or ethnographic value“):

“cultural heritage” means movable or immovable objects of artistic, architectural, historical, archaeological, ethnographic, palaeontological and geological importance and includes information or data relative to cultural heritage pertaining to Malta or to any other country. This includes archaeological, palaeontological or geological sites and deposits, human remains, landscapes, underwater and seascapes, groups of buildings, as well as scientific collections, collections of natural specimens and art objects, manuscripts, books, published material, archives, audio-visual material and reproductions of any of the preceding, or collections of historical value, as well as intangible cultural assets comprising arts, traditions, customs and skills employed in the performing arts, in applied arts and in crafts and other intangible assets which have a historical, artistic or ethnographic value

Heraldry (heraldic art, heraldic tradition, heraldic practice) as such is part of Malta‘s cultural heritage by definition. Historical arms, both Maltese and foreign, are elements of cultural heritage by definition. Recent arms (newer that fifty years) are considered to be elements of cultural heritage if they are deemed to be objects of cultural, artistic or historical value that is worth preserving, cf:

Is Heritage Malta a Government institution, or a private business company?

It is very much  a governmental agency, established by the Government as specified by the Cultural Heritage Act.

http://www.justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lom&itemid=8911&l=1

 

Is there an official Office of Chief Herald of Arms in Malta?

Yes, the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta was established by the Ministry of Culture through Heritage Malta as announced in the Malta Government Gazette on 25th June 2019.

https://www.gov.mt/en/Government/DOI/Government%20Gazette/Documents/2019/06/Government%20Gazette%20-%2025th%20June,%202019.pdf

  1. (5)  (a) For the purpose of ensuring the better conservation, restoration, management, administration, marketing, exhibition, presentation or study of any particular part of the cultural heritage, the Agency may, with the written approval of the Minister, acting in consultation with the Superintendent, either delegate any of its functions to any existing entity or to any entity to be established, whether public or private, or a partnership thereof, as may be necessary, and in every case under such conditions as established by the superintendent and approved and published by the Minister in the Gazette, provided that whenever the delegation above-mentioned consists in an act of guardianship there shall be followed the provisions of article 48.

The Office of Chief Herald was established, by the Ministry of Culture, on the recommendation of both the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary, its creation  having been decided at Cabinet level.  The creation of the office was published in the Malta Government Gazette by Heritage Malta on behalf of the Ministry of Culture. The relevant notice (seen above) appeared in the batch published by the Ministry of Culture.  Only official government notices are published in the Malta Government Gazette. This is the very reason the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta refers to this notice when citing his authority in grants issued from his Office. For administrative reasons, Heritage Malta has passed the day-to-day running of the office, to its subsidiary, Heritage Malta Services ltd., which manages the logistical needs of the Office.

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