Sweden - Heraldists want penis reinstated on military badge
21 Feb 08
Sweden's chief heraldists remain dissatisfied with a decision by the
Nordic Battlegroup to remove a lion's penis depicted on its coat of
But staff at the National Archives are hopeful that the Nordic
Battlegroup will reconsider its position and re-erect the lion's
member on its insignia.
"They stepped over the line when they made alterations to the badge
without consulting us. It was a clear breach of copyright," state
heraldist Henrik Klackenberg told The Local.
Although the heraldry unit is unlikely to take any legal action,
Klackenberg said he would appreciate an apology from the Armed Forces.
After an initial flurry of media reports in December last year, the
Commander of the Nordic Battlegroup, Karl Engelbrektsson, revealed
that it was he who he had ordered the alteration. This ran contrary to
initial reports suggesting that the emasculation occurred following
pressure from female soldiers.
In an interview with Sveriges Radio, the Commander said he decided to
give the lion the snip having read UN Security Council Resolution 1325
on women, peace and security.
With civilian women often falling victim to sexual abuse in the war
zones of the world, the Commander said he did not consider the male
appendage an appropriate symbol for his troops to wear into battle.
But heraldic artist Vladimir A Sagerlund was dismayed at what he
viewed as an alarming lack of historical awareness. In former times,
he said, coats of arms containing lions without genitalia were given
to those who betrayed the Swedish Crown.
And as Sagerlund's colleague points out, the heraldry unit would have
no qualms about making alterations to the original image if requested
to do so by the military.
"We could make the dimensions a bit smaller, for example. Once we were
commissioned to create a similar symbol for Swedish Customs. When they
thought it was a bit much they sent it back to us and we just shrank
the organ," said Klackenberg.
Though clearly irritated by the army's attack on the lion's virility,
Sweden's state heraldist admitted he was fascinated by the story's
"It has been everywhere, from New Zealand and Singapore to Japan and
Turkey. I think we can safely say that this is the biggest splash ever
created by Swedish heraldry. It's definitely an all-time high."
The Nordic Battlegroup is one of eighteen such military groups in the
European Union. Some 2,000 of its 2,400 soldiers come from Sweden,
with the rest coming from Finland, Norway, Ireland and Estonia.
The Local has contacted the Swedish Armed Forces but the Commander of
the Nordic Battlegroup was unavailable for comment.
Paul O'Mahony ( /08 656 6513)
© The Local Europe AB 2008
Click to view image: '155135-swedpenis.jpg'
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