Monday, December 28, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Order of the Oak Crown

The Order of the Oak Crown (known as Ordre de la Couronne de Chêne in French and as Orden der Eichenkrone in German) was created by royal and grand ducal decree tomorrow 174 years ago, on December 29, 1841, by King Willem II of the Netherlands, who was also Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The Order was founded by the King-Grand Duke as Luxembourg was in need of one. Only a few months prior, he had awarded Dutch orders to Luxembourgish citizens to merit their services.

There are several stories where the Order has its name from though no one knows, one says that Willem expressed his surprise about the blooming broom against the green of the Ösling forests (a region in Luxembourg). This origin would explain the choice of the ribbon colours, which are yellow-orange and dark green. The design of the insignia itself, however, was greated influence by a foreign order, the Imperial Russian Order of St. George, which Tsar Alexander I had awarded to King Willem II after the Battle of Waterloo.

Originally the Order of the Oak Crown had only four grades, but in 1858 several changes were made so that the Order nowadays consists of five grades (Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight). In addition, three medals were added to the Order (gold, which was replaced by a silver gilt one in 1872, silver and bronze) that same year.

silver medal
The Order's badge consists of a cross with four white arms which are edged in gold. The centre of the badge has a green medallion with a golden "W" for Willem surrounded by the grand ducal crown. The cross is identical in all classes except of the officer grade in which it bears golden oak leaves between its arms.

The plaque of the Grand Cross consists of a silver star with eight rays. In its centre there is also a green medallion with a golden "W" surmounted by the grand-ducal crown. The motto "Je maintaindrai" (I will maintain) is surrounded by golden oak leaves. The ribbon is yellow-orange with green stripes. The ribbon of the Officer features a rosette in the same colour.

The medals are of octagonal shape and feature the cross of the Order on their observe while there is the oak crown on the reverse.

The Order of the Oak Crown is awarded for outstanding civil and military services by Luxembourgish citizens as well as achievements of distinguished artists. If it is awarded to foreign nationals, the approval of the proposed recipient's government is required. Like the other Luxembourgish orders, the Order of the Oak Crown is usually awarded on National Day. The Grand Duke awards it upon the recommendation and with the countersignature of the Minister of State, also known as the Prime Minister or to put it simply, the head of the government.

The Order of the Oak Crown is the third highest order of Luxembourg, only outranked by the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau and the Order of Civil and Military Merit of Adolph of Nassau.

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