Sunday, March 29, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: The Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

The Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was created by Grand-Ducal decree on 23rd January 1961, which marked the 65th birthday of Grand Duchess Charlotte after five to ten years of discussion. It is the youngest of the Grand Duchy's orders. After the end of the second World War the Cour Grand Ducal as well as the Luxemburgish government saw the need to create an order to reward professional achievements or meritious services in other sectors. Before the Order of the Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was created the Order of the Oak Crown was normally awarded for these kind of things, but between 1945 and the early 1960s it was awarded quite too often and the officials thought that the value of the order was risked.

There are five grades of the order: Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight. In addition to the grades a silver-gilt medal is also annexed to the order. While the reigning Grand Duke or Grand Duchess is the Grand Master of this order, the Prime Minister serves as its chancellor.

The badge of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg consists of a cross with four white-enamelled armes with blue edges.

On the obverse, the central medallion bears the lion of the Grand Duchy. The lion is crowned, open-clawed and langued gold. It is surrounded by a laurel crown on a blue-enamelled Background.

The reverse shows two golden, interlaced and gilded "C" for Charlotte and the grand-ducal crown on a red background. It is surrounded by a blue-enamelled border.

The plaque is a silver-gilt star with twelve rays. The badge of the order is in its centre. The ribbon is red with white and blue edges. The ribbon wideness varies between 105 mm for the Grand Cross to 37 mm for the other four classes. The medal is in silver-gilt and consists of a four-armed cross angled by five rays.

The Order of Merit is awarded on National Day to deputies, state councillors, civil servants, elected representatives and personnel of municipal administrations, key players of the economic, social, cultural or sport sectors as well as volunteers. It can also be awarded to foreigners, though the foreign government has to approve. The silver-gilt medal is awarded to centenarians and acts of rescue. It is awarded by the Grand Duke with the countersignature of the Minister of State, who also nominates people for the order. It is considered to be the lowest of the Grand Duchy's orders, the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau being the highest.

When a member of the order dies or is raised into a higher class, the insignia have to be restored to the state.  

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