The English translation of “fleur-de-lis” (sometimes spelled “fleur-de-lys”) is “flower of the lily.” This symbol, depicting a stylized lily or lotus flower, has many meanings.
While the Fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy in a historical context, and continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and members of the House of Bourbon. It remains an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps.
According to French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed.
Traditionally, it has been used to represent French royalty, and in that sense it is said to signify perfection, light, and life.
Legend has it that an angel presented Clovis, the Merovingian King of the Franks, with a golden lily as a symbol of his purification upon his conversion to Christianity.
Others claim that Clovis adopted the symbol when waterlilies showed him how to safely cross a river and thus succeed in battle.