Lion and Unicorn

Lion and Unicorn

Lion and unicorn might sound like they have nothing to do with each other. A feline living in the African savanna, and a magical, horse-like creature with one horn?

If you think about it, lion and unicorn do have something in common. The lion is the king of the predators, and it is considered a noble and brave animal. A unicorn is a magical creature, and while it is not a predator, it is also seen as noble and daring.

The lion and the unicorn have an old symbolic meaning. They are the symbols of the United Kingdom. The lion represents England, while the unicorn, the national animal of Scotland, symbolizes Scotland.

The History of Lion and Unicorn

Traditionally, lions and unicorns have been seen as enemies. This is reflected in the historical warfare between England and Scotland.

The history of the lion and the unicorn as symbols of the United Kingdom started in 1603. This is the year when King James I of England became the king of England and Ireland (he was already the king of Scotland).

The lion and the unicorn are heraldic supporters of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The lion and the unicorn have also been in the royal coat of arms of Canada since 1921.

Crown the Unicorn Too!

The royal coat of arms has different versions in England and Scotland. In the English version, only the lion is crowned. The unicorn does not have a crown on its head, and above all, it is chained. This is because, in history, a free unicorn was considered a dangerous animal.

Scotland has a different version of the royal coat of arms. In the Scottish version, the unicorn is still chained, but it is also wearing a crown, not just the lion.

royal coat of arms of the united kingdom
The English version of the royal coat of arms is on the left. The Scottish version is on the right. Image by Sodacan This W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Inkscape. / CC BY-SA

The Nursery Rhyme

The Lion and the Unicorn is an old nursery rhyme and folk song. It probably dates back to the 18th century. The lyrics of the song reflect the history of England and Scotland and the political situation at the time.

The Lion and the Unicorn Lyrics

The lion and the unicorn 
were fighting for the crown 
The lion beat the unicorn 
all around the town 

Some gave them white bread 
and some gave them brown 
Some gave them plum cake 
and drummed them out of town

The nursery rhyme is represented in Lewis Carroll’s novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Alice meets the Lion and the Unicorn, which are fighting over the crown of the White King. Just like in the nursery rhyme, Alice offers the rival animals plum cake.

Related: Popular songs about unicorns

The Lion and the Unicorn in the Bible

There is a verse in the King James Version of the Bible, in which both the lion and the unicorn are mentioned:

Save me from the Lion´s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

Psalms 22:21

The lion in this verse is usually interpreted as death or Satan. This verse is about how God will save you from death, and from the horns of unicorns.

But normally, lion and unicorn are not ferocious symbols in the Bible. A unicorn is usually seen as the symbol of Christ. The lion, on the other hand, is the symbol of the Lion of Judah.

In C.S. Lewis’s fantasy novel series The Chronicles of Narnia, the lion Aslan represents Christ.

The lion and the unicorn can be found in the Bible, and as confusing as it seems, they both are seen as symbols of Christ.

Lion and Unicorn – A Royal Pair

Lion and the unicorn have a long history. Traditionally seen as enemies, they are found in the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom.

The lion and the unicorn are symbols of the United Kingdom. The lion represents England, while the unicorn symbolizes Scotland. This symbolism is found in the old nursery rhyme called the Lion and the Unicorn.

The lion and the unicorn can also be found in the Bible. It may be confusing, but they are both seen as symbols of Christ.

The magical unicorn has a long history with the king of the predators, the lion. In my opinion, both parties of this royal pair deserve a crown!

What do you think of the symbolism of lion and unicorn? Do you find it confusing? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  1. My dad was described as lion like in temper and appearance. His thick mane of brown hair, bushy eyebrows, fierce hazel eyes and strong presence reminded everyone of a lion. My mom called him “her handsome lion”. My dads siblings also had the same lion like qualities. Where my parents come from there are celebrations of lions, dancing and festivities. My dad passed away at almost a 100 years old, One day daughter saw a lion shaped fierce cloud looking at us. She said “mama, look it’s grandpa!!!! It looks exactly like his face!!!!” Shortly after several more fierce lions showed up , we counted and all my dad’s siblings were with him. It was a beautiful sunset and the lions were watching over us, My dad was the largest in the middle. We walked down the same path on our way home and my daughter found a tiny golden fairy pendant with pastel rainbow streamers on it. There was no one there to have placed it. My daughter said “Fairies and angels and unicorns left it for us”.

  2. The original Bible from many years ago had no mention of unicorns whatsoever script has been subtly changed over the years and the sad thing is hardly anyone has noticed this!.. there is and never was any such thing as a unicorn it is a mythical creature!

  3. I found this to be both interesting and informative. As I toured London and kept seeing the two, I asked the significance, but was only told it was on the Coat-of-Arms; that didn’t suffice. Excellent write up!! To also include the various reference points in nursery rhymes, stories, and the Bible was a brilliant idea.