Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Count Charles Anthony Gauci OLM KCHS MD FRCA FIPP FFPMRCA FSA.Scot RAMC (Retd) is the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta. His position was officially announced in the Malta Government Gazette on 25 June 2019 Notice Number 729.
Gauci graduated MD from the Royal University of Malta and after postgraduate training in anaesthesia in the UK joined the British Army, receiving his commission as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and was successively promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He saw active service in Northern Ireland for which he was awarded the Northern Ireland Campaign Medal. He also served in Belize (Central America) and in West Germany.
He resigned his commission to take up the appointment of Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine at Whipps Cross University Hospital, London. He was also Honorary Consultant in Pain Medicine at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital, London and Visiting Consultant to the Ministry of Health in Malta. He served as a British court expert in the field of pain medicine and as Secretary of the World Institute of Pain.
He is the author of several books on genealogy, heraldry, and the nobility and has also written a number of textbooks on interventional pain management.
Now semi-retired from medicine, he is Consultant in Pain Medicine at Mater Dei Hospital, Malta and at Gozo General Hospital. He is also an Assistant Lecturer in Human Anatomy at the University of Malta.
Gauci has had an interest in heraldry since his school days. He was one of the original members of the former Malta Heraldic Society and the founder of the Heraldic and Genealogical Society for Wales. (Cymdeithas Herodrol ac achyddol Cymru).
Together with Ulster and Norroy King of Arms (at the College of Arms, London), he devised the Armorial Bearings, including supporters, for the British Pain society. He has also devised the Armorial Bearings for the Association of Foreign Title-Holders (Malta) and for various other bodies.
He is the Membership Secretary of the European Branch of the Richard III Society and a regular contributor of articles about medieval English history to the European Yorkist. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
Gauci is the Hon. President of the Malta G.C. branch of the Royal British Legion.
The Chief Herald of Arms of Malta has appointed a number of Officers of Arms to assist him in his work.
These include two Deputy Chief Heralds of Arms of Malta and three Pursuivants of Arms, one of whom is also the Registrar at the Office of the Chief Herald. They work with the Chief Herald to safeguard, promote and promulgate this intrinsic part of Malta’s heritage together with the support of three Pursuivants of Arms.
Arms of the Office
Heraldry has its own language, known as ‘blazon’, originating in medieval France. The blazon describing the Arms of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta is:
Below a crest coronet of fourteen oak leaves Or issuant from a wreath of the colours and upon a hurt edged of the First bearing the motto VIRTUTE ET CONSTANTIA and debruising two herald’s maces of the First in saltire with dexter finial displaying the Cross and Arms of Aragon and sinister finial the Arms of Fortress Malta both Proper, the shield of Malta, with the whole supported by an Eight-pointed Cross of the Second.
The motto, ‘VIRTUTE ET CONSTANTIA’, alludes to a phrase which reverberates throughout the history of Malta.
Grand Master Jean ‘Parisot’ de Valette used these words in a dispatch to King Philip II of Spain when describing the victory of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.
“Characteristic of Malta is allowance for personal freedom by which I mean you can do as you like so long as you do not encroach on the rights of others. Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the use of the coats of arms of the many surnames in Malta. There is no College of Arms or Heraldry Office in Malta- nor for that matter is the use of Armorial Bearings a privilege with taxation attached to it. Everyone is allowed to use a coat of arms suitable to his surname and no one would dream of questioning his right to do so.”
Charles Gauci has been fascinated by heraldry since his early childhood in England, when, in 1953, his school took part in a pageant to celebrate the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. However, while still a medical student, many years ago, it was the above quote from E.R. Leopardi’s book (Malta’s Heritage, Progress Press 1969) which convinced him that one day, Malta should have its own independent Heraldic establishment.
His dream has now become reality with the establishment, in March 2019, of the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta, based at the historic Fort St. Elmo in Valletta.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
- (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.
It is very much a governmental agency, established by the Government as specified by the Cultural Heritage Act.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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 Drectors 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.
The office of the Chief Herald will maintain an Official archive containing each and every grant, registration and matriculation, together with all documentation appertaing 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.
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
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
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.