Lord of the Isles

Lordship of the Isles
Shield of Arms of the Duke of Rothesay.svg
Arms of Prince Charles, as used in Scotland. The galley in the 2nd and 3rd quarters represents the Lordship of the Isles
Creation datec. 875
Present holderCharles
Heir apparentWilliam
Charles, Prince of Wales, the current Lord of the Isles.
Finlaggan on Islay was the seat of the Lords of the Isles under Clan Donald.

The Lord of the Isles (Scottish Gaelic: Triath nan Eilean or Rìgh Innse Gall) is a title of Scottish nobility with historical roots that go back beyond the Kingdom of Scotland. It emerged from a series of hybrid Viking/Gaelic rulers of the west coast and islands of Scotland in the Middle Ages, who wielded sea-power with fleets of galleys (birlinns). Although they were, at times, nominal vassals of the Kings of Norway, Ireland, or Scotland, the island chiefs remained functionally independent for many centuries. Their territory included the Hebrides (Skye and Ross from 1438), Knoydart, Ardnamurchan, and the Kintyre peninsula. At their height they were the greatest landowners and most powerful lords in Britain after the Kings of England and Scotland.[1]

The end of the MacDonald Lords came in 1493 when MacDonald II had his ancestral homeland, estates, and titles seized by King James IV of Scotland. Since that time, the MacDonald Clan has contested the right of James IV to the Lordship of the Isles and uprisings and rebellions against the Scottish Monarch were common. More recently, the Lordship of the Isles has been held by the Duke of Rothesay, the eldest son and heir apparent of the King of Scotland, a title which, since the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain, is borne by the Prince of Wales. Thus Prince Charles is the current Lord of the Isles.

Finlaggan on Islay was the seat of the Lords of the Isles under Clan Donald.[2]


The arms adopted by the Lord of the Isles varied over time, but the blazon given and illustrated[3] in the "Armorial of Sir David Lindsay of the Mount" (1542) is: Or, an eagle displayed gules beaked and armed sable overall a lymphad sable.