What's a royal without an order? Not much, at least at a fancy white-tie dinner party. And while it might not have been very important for the Liechtenstein royals to have their own order during the times of the Austro-Hungarian empire - after all, nothing could beat the Order of the Golden Fleece -, this changed after the end of the monarchy. And so the Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein (or Fürstlich Liechtensteinischer Verdienstorden in German) was founded by Prince Franz I on 22 July 1937. This date marked his 8th wedding anniversary with his wife Princess Elsa.
|Badge of the |
The Order is awarded to people from Liechtenstein as well as foreigners for outstanding services to the Principality. On the same date Prince Franz I also founded the Princely Liechtenstein Medal of Merit (Fürstlich Liechtensteinisches Verdienstzeichen in German), which is nowadays often associated with the order, although it is an independent decoration. The order and the medal are bestowed only by the Reigning Prince, though the government can nominate people to receive them.
Originally the order had five grades (Grand Star, Grand Cross, Commander's Cross with Star, Commander's Cross and Knight's Cross). In 1960, the Grand Cross With Diamonds was added as a grade between the Grand Star and the Grand Cross. The Princely Liechtenstein Medal of Merit is awarded in gold and silver.
|Plaque of the Grand Cross, obverse|
The ribbon of the order has stripes in red and blue. These colours can also be found in the country's flag. The badge consists of a cross with four arms enamelled in blue and edged in red. The centre of the badge features a blue enamelled medaillion with a golden "L" (for Liechtenstein) on the obverse and the initials FIL (Franz I Liechtenstein) on the reverse.
The plaque consists of a bediamonded gold star with eight rays for the Grand Star and a bediamond silver star with eight rays for the other grades. Its centre is the badge of the order including the elaborated "L".
The Princely Liechtenstein Medal of Merit also has a ribbon in red and blue. Their shape is a cross equivalent to the one of the order in gold or silver respectively.
The only bearer of the Grand Star is the head of state, right now Prince Hans-Adam II. He as well as the possessors of the Grand Cross with Diamonds and of the Grand Cross are so-called "holders" of their grades. The possessors of the Commander's Cross with Star are known as "Commanders of the Order of Merit of the Principality" the owners of the Commander's Cross are "Commanders" of their grade and the holders of the Knight's Cross are known as "Knights of the Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein"
There are no privileges associated with the title. After the bestowal the decorations are the possession of the honoree and of his heirs.