The World Crest is a Scout emblem that has been worn by an estimated 250 million Scouts since the Scouting movement was founded in 1907 by Lord Baden-Powell at the experimental camp on Brownsea Island in the UK. During this camp, he issued the first from of the World Crest, a copper fleur-de-lis badge, to all participants. It is still worn by 54 million Scouts in 216 countries and territories and is one of the world’s best-known symbols.
Scouts and members of the public often ask how the emblem originated. Lord Baden-Powell himself gave the answer: “Our badge we took from the ‘North Point’ used on maps for orienteering.” Lady Baden-Powell said later, “It shows the true way to go.” The emblem’s symbolism helps to remind Scouts to be as true and reliable as a compass in keeping to their Scouting ideals and showing others the way.
The crest is designed with a center motif encircled by a rope tied with a reef or square knot, which symbolizes the unity and brotherhood of the movement throughout the world. Even as one cannot undo a reef knot no matter how hard one pulls on it, so, as it expands, the movement remains united.
The three tips of the center fleur-de-lis represent the three points of the Scout Promise. In some countries, the two decorative five-pointed stars stand for truth and knowledge.
The crest is white on a royal purple background. These colors are symbolic as well. In heraldry, white represents purity and royal purple denotes leadership and help given to other people.
The World Crest is an emblem of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and is authorized for wear on the uniform of all member associations as a symbol of membership in a world brotherhood. It is authorized by the Boy Scouts of America to be worn by all adult and youth members as a permanent patch centered horizontally over the left pocket and vertically between the left shoulder seam and the top of the pocket.
The BSA donates a small portion of the proceeds from each patch sold to the World Scout Foundation to assist with the development of Scouting’s emerging nations.