Happy Birthday to Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia, who turns 74 today! As the Head of the House of Karađorđević for almost 50 years, he is the Sovereign of the Dynastic Orders of the Karađorđević Family, two of which we are featuring today!
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 Yugoslavian Royal Orders-
King Peter I of Serbia founded the Royal Order of the Star of Karađorđe on the 1st of January 1904 to mark both his accession to the throne and 100th anniversary of first Serbian revolution against the Ottoman Turks. The order originally had four classes and was awarded for services to King, State and Nation. The eight-pointed star has a white-enamelled cross in its center, carrying the order’s motto: “For Faith and Freedom, 1804”. The badge has a similar white-enamelled cross and is topped by a crown. The sash is red with white stripes near the edges. Princes of the Serbian Royal House receive its highest grade, the Grand Cross, at birth and are invested at the time of their baptism. The Order’s current Grand Master is Crown Prince Alexander II, who can often be seen wearing its insignia at royal events.
The Royal Order of Saint Sava was created by King Milan I of Serbia in 1881. The King named it after Archbishop Sava, who died in the thirteenth century, and was later made a Saint. The order had five classes at the time of its creation. The eight-pointed star has a white and blue enamelled cross, and written in the central disc is the following: “Through his efforts, he achieved everything”. The badge is similar to the star’s insignia and is topped by a crown and the sash is white with blue stripes near the edges. Crown Princess Katherine is the most prominent current recipient of the order, but Crown Prince Alexander II has also given the order to other female members of the family.