Happy Birthday to Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein, who turns 74 today! Unlike most other reigning and former Monarchies, the small Alpine Principality doesn’t have a large and illustrious Honours system, but to mark their Prince’s birthday, we are taking a look at Liechtenstein’s Royal Order!
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 Liechtenstein’s Royal Order.
Founded by Prince Franz I in honour of his wedding anniversary in 1937, the Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein is awarded for services rendered to the principality, in six grades; Grand Star of the Princely Liechtenstein Order of Merit, Grand Cross With Diamonds of the Princely Liechtenstein Order of Merit, Grand Cross of the Princely Liechtenstein Order of Merit. Commander’s Cross with Star of the Princely Liechtenstein Order of Merit, Commander’s Cross of the Princely Liechtenstein Order of Merit, and Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The Sash is red, edged with blue stripes, and worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. The eight-pointed star features a cross with four arms enamelled in blue, with a blue enamelled medallion featuring a gold ‘L’, for Liechtenstein, and the FIL, for Franz I Liechtenstein, on the reverse, which is also the design of the badge. While the members of the Princely Family wear the Sash and Star for Foreign Royal events (as Liechtenstein doesn’t host any White Tie events), at home in the Principality, they usually wear the badge suspended from a miniature ribbon for the men and a bow for the ladies.