Happy Birthday to King Abdullah II of Jordan, who turns 57 today! Unlike many other Middle Eastern Monarchies, Jordan has a vast Honours System with which they reward citizens and honour foreign dignitaries, which are awarded by the King. To mark his birthday, we are taking a look at the Jordanian Royal Orders!
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 Jordanian Royal Orders.
The Order of all-Hussein bin Ali, the highest Jordanian, decoration, was founded by King Abdullah I of Jordan in June 1949. Originally, recipients of the order could only receive the order with one grade: Collar. However, King Hussein changed it in 1967 when he added the lower-ranking grade of Grand Cordon. The order’s sash is violet and both the badge and the star are oval discs topped with a crown. Being the highest decoration available in Jordan, the Order of all-Hussein bin Ali is usually awarded to foreign monarchs. Royal recipients in Jordan include the current King Abdullah II, Queen Rania and Prince Hassan (a former Crown Prince). Other royal recipients of the order include Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, King Philippe of the Belgians, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Harald V of Norway, King Willem-Alexander and Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands, among a few others.
The Supreme Order of Renaissance was founded by Emir Hussein bin Ali in 1917, almost 30 years before Jordan’s independence. The Order is composed of six grades, though royals usually receive its highest grade: the Special Class of the Grand Cordon. The sash is composed of three colors in the following order: black, white and green, with a narrow red stripe centring the white stripe. Both the star and the badge consist of an eight-pointed star. Most members of the Jordanian Royal Family are recipients of the Supreme Order of Renaissance. Foreign recipients include the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, Queen Sonja of Norway, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, Princesses Laurentien and Margriet of the Netherlands, Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, among many others.
The Order of the Star of Jordan was created in 1949 by King Abdullah I, who wished to honor his late father. The order is composed of 5 grades, but royals usually receive the Grand Cordon of the Order. The order’s sash is dark with narrow purple stripes near the edges. A number of members of the Jordanian Royal Family are recipients of the order, and foreign royals who received it include Princesses Märtha-Louise and Astrid of Norway, Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Infanta Elena of Spain, the Duke of Kent.
The Order of Independence was created in 1921 by Emir Hussein bin Ali and is the lowest ranking decoration awarded by the Jordanian state. The order is composed of six grades, the highest being that of Grand Cordon. The sash is purple with black stripes on the edges that are followed by white stripes on both sides. The former King Simeon II of Bulgaria and the ex-husband of Infanta Elena, Jaime de Marichalar, have received this order that is also usually awarded to Prime Ministers of Jordan.