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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: "Lion at the Cross Roads - Orders of Luxembourg" by Antti Ruokonen

Whenever the Luxembourg (or any) royals get glammed up for an occasion, orders are usually never far away. Thus far, however, there has always been a bit of an informational drought when it came to the Luxembourgish orders. There is the 1990 German-language book "Orden und Ehrenzeichen des GroƟherzogtums Luxemburg" by Jean Schoos but unfortunately many of the information has long been outdated. Thankfully, a new book published in November of last year provides remedy.

The English-language "Lion at the Cross Roads - Orders of Luxembourg" written by Finnish expert Antti Ruokonen, who has also published books about Belgian and Romanian orders, is the new definitive work on Luxembourgish orders. After a brief introduction into Luxembourg's general history and short biographies of the two Luxembourgish rulers most essential to the country's orders, Grand Duke Adolph and Grand Duchess Charlotte, the book gives extensive descriptions of the history, development, appearance as well as bestowal criteria and numbers of the four orders of the Grand Duchy, the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau, the Order of Civil and Military Merit of Adolph of Nassau, the Order of the Oak Crown and the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Some of the books biggest and most interesting assets are a great number of high quality pictures of the Luxembourgish orders up close, which make you immediately appreciate all the craftsmanship going into their manufacture. The visual aspect of the book is rounded up with additional pictures of recipients, award documents throughout the decades as well as pictures of the some of the orders' original establishment decrees.

In addition, there are a few biographies of recipients of Luxembourgish orders as well as an appendice featuring conferral statistics and lists of selected and Finnish recipients. The sometimes rather technical information about the orders is spiced up by anecdotes surrounding the conferral (and return) of the decorations. Having read the book ourselves, we can whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone interested in all things Luxembourgish or orders in particular.

The U.S. version of "Lion at the Cross Roads - Orders of Luxembourg", which is 206 pages long, is available via Amazon and costs around $70/€60. A more limited European version - which only differs in format - is available through specialised vendors here, here and here.

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