Today marks the Birthday of the Prince and Princess of Naples, the heads of the House of Savoy and the pretenders to the former Italian Throne. To mark the day, we are taking a look at the Savoy Royal Honours.
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 Savoy Royal Orders-
The highest dynastic order of knighthood, the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (Ordine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata) was founded by Count Amadeus IV of Savoy in 1362, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is celebrated as ‘Our Lady of the Annunciation.’ To commemorate the ‘fifteen joys of the Virgin,’ the Order initially had fifteen Knights and fifteen Chaplains, who said fifteen masses every day. The Order ceased to be an Italian national order after the abolition of the monarchy in 1946, but it continues as a dynastic order under the jurisdiction of the Prince of Naples, who is the Order’s hereditary Sovereign and Grand Master.
The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro) was founded by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy in 1572 through amalgamation approved by Pope Gregory XIII of the Order of Saint Maurice, founded in 1434, with the Order of Saint Lazarus, founded circa 1119. The insignia of the Order is a green cross of eight points bearing at each point a roundel or between a cross bottony argent, the Cross of Saint Maurice enamelled white and that of Saint Lazarus enamelled transparent green, suspended from a deep green ribbon. The sash is worn by men from the right shoulder to the left hip, while women usually wear the smaller bows with a badge suspended as insignia. The order was awarded by the Kingdom of Italy, restricted to subjects of noble families with proofs of at least eight noble great-grandparents, and as a dynastic Order, it currently has over 2000 members. The Grand Master is the Prince of Naples, as the Head of the House of Savoy.