Happy Birthday to Prince Albert II of Monaco, who turns 61 today! The half-American Sovereign of the small Mediterranean Principality, to mark his birthday, we are taking a look at the Monaco 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 Monegasque Royal Orders-
The preeminent chivalric order of Monaco, the Order of Saint-Charles was founded by Prince Charles III on March 15, 1858, after St. Charles Borromeo, and is award for merit and services to the State or Prince. Awarded in Knight-Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, Knight, the insignia consists of a badge, a red and white Maltese cross backed by a wreath of laurel leaves, featuring a pair of interlocking Cs surmounted by a golden crown , surrounded by the motto of the order, “Princeps et Patria”, which is also featured on the six-pointed star. The Sash, featuring two red and one white stripes, is worn from the right shoulder to the left hip, while the Prince wears the Collar, features two alternating motifs of Prince Charles III’s monogram and the shield from the Grimaldi coat of arms. Members of the Princely family are most frequently seen wearing the Order of Saint-Charles at the annual National Day Celebrations and Gala.
Founded by Prince Rainier III in 1954, to award people who have contributed to the prestige of the Principality with distinction, the Order of Grimaldi is awarded in the grades of Knight Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, and Knight. The insignia features a Badge, a white-enamelled Maltese Cross with obverse central disc bearing a mounted knight carrying the coat-of-arms of Monaco and the House of Grimaldi, surrounded by “Rainer Grimaldi, Prince de Monaco”, topped by a crown, a Star a modern design in silver, formed by 16 rhombs arranged in a circle, and the Ribbon of in white, with a thin red stripe near the edge. Prince Albert usually wears the star of the Order of Grimaldi on his uniform or White Tie, while Princess Stephanie is the only member pictured wearing the miniature of the order.