Happy Birthday to Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, who turns 63 today! Continuing our new Royal Orders series, we will be taking a look at the Orders of the World’s only Grand Duchy in honour of it’s sovereign’s Birthday!
But first an explanation of Orders in general- Almost every country, monarchy or not, has some form of an honours system that awards chivalry or merit, and is often used in diplomatic exchange of gifts. Each individual order has it’s own history, and in countries with multiple orders, has it’s own rank. The Head of State is usually the sovereign of the order, and has varied authority on deciding their recipients. National Orders are those which must be awarded with consultation from the government, and are official gifts, while the recipients of Dynastic Orders are at the discretion of the Sovereign, and many non-reigning families still award their Dynastic Orders, with no government authority.
Orders of their own countries are awarded to royals at birth, upon reaching the age of majority, upon marriage into the royal family, or after years of dedicated service to the country. Orders of foreign countries are usually awarded during State Visits, and are given according to rank, with the sovereigns receiving the higher order, the heirs the lower order, and the other members of the royal family participating in the visit receiving yet a lower one. However, these rules vary from country to country, and also depend on individual Sovereigns.
Orders are accompanied by a varied amount of insignia, which can include a Sash with a badge worn at the hip, a Star, ornate Collars, Badges to be worn on the shoulders, and smaller Pins, and the awarding of specific items differentiate the different grades in each individual order, and/or depend on the orders themselves. The wearing of the insignia depends on the occasion. The ornate collars of an Order are only worn very rarely at White Tie events or on Uniforms. The Sash and Star are more common and seen at White Tie State Banquets. The smaller badges may be worn when you are wearing the insignia of other orders, or at a Black Tie occasion where Orders are worn. The small pins are worn at formal occasions in the daytime, when you want to honour the occasion without making it too formal. Now that we have an explanation, lets learn about the Luxembourg Royal Orders.
Established by King William III of the Netherlands (and Grand Duke of Luxembourg) and Adolphe, Duke of Nassau in 1858, the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau is shared by the Walramian and Ottonian branches of the House of Nassau. While only a Dynastic Order in the Netherlands, the Order became the highest national order in Luxembourg, when the Duke of Nassau succeeded his cousin as the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The sovereign of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg are joint Grand Masters of the Order. The Sash is orange with a narrow blue stripe along each edge, worn from the right shoulder to the left hip, with a badge at the hip. The Badge is a white-enameled Maltese Cross, with a gold monogram ‘N’ between the arms, with a central blue enameled disc bearing the gold lion of the House of Nassau. The reverse of the disc is also blue-enameled and contains the motto ‘Je Maintiendrai’ (I Shall Maintain). The Star is an 8-point silver star, bearing the same disc as the badge, surrounded with the motto and a laurel wreath in gold on white-enamel. Princes of the House receive the Order upon Birth, while Princesses receive the Order upon reaching the age of Majority. The Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau is awarded to foreign Heads of State by the Grand Duke.
The Order of Adolphe of Nassau was originally established in 1858 as an order of the Duchy of Nassau, which was soon annexed, and it ceased to exist for a period of years, until the Duke succeeded to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and revived the Order. The Sash is blue with a small orange stripe at both edges. The Badge of the Order is a white-enameled Maltese cross, with a central disc, in white-enamel, bearing the letter ‘A’ in gold, surmounted by an imperial crown and the motto ‘Virtute’, with ‘1292’ and ‘1858’ inscribed on the reverse. The Star is an eight-pointed faceted silver star with the same central disc as the badge. The second highest national Order, it is awarded in recognition of meritorious service and loyalty to the Grand Duke, the Grand Ducal House and Luxembourg. All members of the Grand Ducal House are born members, and it is also awarded to foreign royalty, mostly Heirs and Spouses.
Established in Luxembourg by King/Grand Duke William II in 1841, the Order of the Oak Crown was originally used as a Dynastic Order in the Netherlands, but as a National Order in Luxembourg. The Sash of the Order is a yellow-orange with three dark green stripes, with the Badge, a white-enameled cross pattée, edged in gold, with a central disc, in green-enamel, bearing the letter ‘W’ topped with a grand-ducal crown, at the left hip. The Star is an eight-pointed faceted silver star, with a central disc bears the crowned monogram ‘W’ from the badge, but this is surrounded by a red-enameled ring with the motto ‘Je Maintiendrai’ (I Will Maintain), surrounded by a green-enameled wreath of oak leaves. The third highest Order, it awarded for outstanding civil and military services by Luxembourgish citizens as well as achievements of distinguished artists. The Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duke usually wear the Order of the Oak Crown at one of the events on National Day.