Britannia

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Britannia, the Roman name for the British Isles revived by Camden (1586), has become the poetic name for Britain. Personified as a seated female figure, adapting a 2nd-cent. Roman design, she appeared emblematically (modelled by Frances Stewart, later duchess of Richmond) on Charles II's 1667 peace of Breda medal and copper coinage (1672); the ‘union’ shield resting alongside bore the crosses of St George and St Andrew. The spear was replaced by a trident (1797) after naval triumphs to represent her ruling the waves. She became helmeted (1825), before appearing on the silver groat (1836), and continues on today's 50p piece.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Britannia the personification of Britain, usually depicted as a helmeted woman with shield and trident. The figure had appeared on Roman coins and was revived with the name Britannia on the coinage of Charles II (the first model being Charles's favourite Frances Stuart (1647–1702), later Duchess of Richmond).

In the 20th century, Britannia was the name of the British royal yacht, launched in 1953 and taken out of service in 1997.


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Bri·tan·ni·a / briˈtanyə; -ˈtanēə/ the personification of Britain, usually depicted as a helmeted woman with shield and trident.