Dragons are one of the best known mythical beasts, and are found in legends all over the world. In Wales it was mentioned in chronicles as early as the sixth century. The Red Dragon of The Queen’s Beasts was an emblem of Owen Tudor, a claim to Welsh heritage that was carried on by his son, who would become Henry VII.
The troops of Henry VII carried a fiery red dragon standard at the Battle of Bosworth, when Henry secured the crown of England. The dragon is red, but with a yellow underbelly and it holds a quartered red and gold shield with leopards, the arms of Llewelyn ap Griffith, the last native Prince of Wales. In Europe, the dragon was seen as a frightening creature, but strong, wise and powerful.
Thomas Lloyd, The Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary writes: “The dragon is one of the oldest and best known of all mythical beasts, drawn on as often today as in the far distant past. From Western Europe to China and Japan, it appears in different forms, lizard-like and fire-breathing in the East and in the West upstanding and muscular, its tongue like an arrow, standing for strength, speed and power beyond human ability, intended to strike terror into its enemies.
The Red Dragon has especially become the emblem of ancient Welsh pride, emerging from heroic traditions of King Arthur and his father Uther Pendragon, to become a Royal Beast of the Tudor monarchs, supporting the coat of arms of that proud Welsh dynasty. From there it has become the emblem of the modern Welsh nation, resplendent on the Welsh flag against a background of white and green, the livery colours of the Tudor sovereigns. In this form also, it is Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Badge for Wales, encircled with a riband bearing the motto: “Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn” (The Red Dragon Gives The Lead”), so that the Red Dragon today retains its significance as a Royal Beast no less than in centuries past”