Order of St. Olav

The Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav (Norwegian: Den Kongelige Norske Sankt Olavs Orden; or Sanct Olafs Orden, the old Norwegian name) is a Norwegian order of chivalry instituted by King Oscar I on 21 August 1847. It is named after King Olav II, known to posterity as St. Olav.[1]

  • Order of Saint Olav
  • Sankt Olavs Orden

St.Olavsordens kraschan - Livrustkammaren - 30274
Grand Cross set of the Order (1st type)
Awarded by
Greater royal coat of arms of Norway.svg
King of Norway
TypeChivalric order with five degrees
Established21 August 1847; 175 years ago (1847-08-21)
(Justice and Truth)
CriteriaRemarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity
StatusCurrently constituted
Grand MasterKing Harald V
  • Grand Cross with Collar
  • Grand Cross
  • Commander with Star
  • Commander
  • Knight 1st Class
  • Knight
Next (higher)None (formerly the Order of the Norwegian Lion)
Next (lower)Order of Merit
St. Olavs Orden stripe.svg
Riband of the Order of St. Olav

Just before the union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, the Order of the Norwegian Lion was instituted in 1904 by King Oscar II, but no appointments were awarded by his successor, King Haakon VII. The Order of St. Olav thus became the kingdom's only order of chivalry for the next 80 years. The Grand Master of the order is the reigning monarch of Norway. It is used to reward individuals for remarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity. Since 1985, appointments to the order has only been conferred upon Norwegian citizens, though foreign heads of state and royalty may be appointed as a matter of courtesy.

Grades and classesEdit

The reigning monarch of Norway is the order's Grand Master.[2] The order consists of three grades, of which two are divided into two classes,[1] and may be awarded for either civilian or military contributions, in descending order of distinction. The collar is awarded as a separate distinction of the Grand Cross to those recipients deemed exceptionally worthy.

  • Grand Cross (Storkors)  – awarded to heads of state as a courtesy and in rare cases to individuals for merit; wears the badge on a collar (chain), plus the star on the left chest. If the collar is not worn the badge may be worn on a sash on the right shoulder;
  • Commander, which is divided into two classes:
    • Commander with Star (Kommandør med stjerne)  – wears the badge on a necklet, plus the star on the left chest;
    • Commander (Kommandør)  – wears the badge on a necklet;
  • Knight, which is divided into two classes:
    • Knight 1st Class (Ridder av 1. klasse)  – wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;
    • Knight (Ridder)  – wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest.
Ribbon bars
Grand Cross with Collar
Grand Cross
Commander with Star
Knight 1st Class


The Star of The Order of Saint Olav
Design of the collar of the Order of St. Olav since 1906.

The collar of the Order is in gold, with five enamelled and crowned monograms "O", five enamelled and crowned coat-of-arms of Norway, and 10 gold crosses bottony each flanked by two battle axes with silver blades and golden shafts (The latter element is also featured in the coat of arms of the Church of Norway).

The badge of the Order is a white enamelled Maltese Cross, in silver for the knight class and in gilt of the higher classes; crowned monograms "O" appear between the arms of the cross. The obverse central disc is red with the golden Norwegian lion rampart bearing a battle-axe; the reverse disc bears the King Oscar's motto «Ret og Sandhed»  – "Justice and Truth" in Norwegian; both discs are surrounded by a white-blue-white ring. The cross is topped by a crown;[3] military awards have crossed swords between the crown and the cross.

The star of the Order for the Grand Cross is an eight-pointed silver star with faceted rays, bearing the obverse of the badge of the Order (minus the crown on the top).

The star for Commander with Star is a silver faceted Maltese Cross, with gilt crowned monograms "O" between the arms of the cross. The central disc is red with the golden Norwegian lion rampart bearing a battle axe, surrounded by a white-blue-white ring.[4]

The ribbon of the Order is red with white-blue-white edge stripes.[1]

In very exceptional circumstances the Order may be awarded "with diamonds", in which case a ring of diamonds replaces the white-blue-white enamel ring surrounding the central disc on the front of the badge as well as in the crown.

The insignia are expected to be returned either upon the receiver's advancement to a higher level of the order or upon his or her death. The insignia are produced in Norway by craftsmen.

Eligibility and appointmentEdit

The King makes appointments upon the recommendation of a six-member commission, none of whom may be a member of the government, consisting of a chancellor, vice chancellor, the Lord Chamberlain (acting as treasurer), and three other representatives. The Lord Chamberlain nominates the members of the commission, and the monarch approves them.[5] Nominations to the order are directed at the commission through the county governor.

Princes and Princesses with succession rights to the throne are appointed to the highest degree upon reaching their age of majority.[6]


The Order of St. Olav is the highest civilian honour currently conferred by Norway and only ranks after the military War Cross among all Norwegian decorations still awarded in the general ranking.

In the order of precedence used at the royal court of Norway, bearers of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav with collar are ranked 15th in the order of precedence, directly after the Mistress of the Robes and generals and directly before recipients of the War Cross with Sword. Bearers of the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav are ranked 16th.

Current holders of the Grand CrossEdit

This list contains holders of the Grand Cross, some of whom have also been awarded the Collar and gives the year of their appointment. The list is collated alphabetically by the last name; those recipients not possessing the last name, such as royalty and most Icelanders are collated by the first name. Six of the listed are not heads of states or royals; these are marked by names in bold. Before the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit was created in 1985, appointments to the Order of St Olav was awarded to members of a foreign delegation during state visits. Many holders of the Grand Cross who are not heads of state are not listed here.

Country Name Charge Grand Cross
with Collar
Grand Cross Year
  Argentina Mauricio Macri Former President  Y 2018
  Austria Heinz Fischer 2007
  Belgium Albert II Former King  Y 1964
Mathilde Queen  Y 2003
Paola Former Queen 1997
Philippe King 2003
  Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva President 2003
  Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov Former President 2006
  Chile Sebastián Piñera Former President 2019
  Croatia Ivo Josipović Former president 2011
  Denmark Benedikte Princess 1974
Frederik Crown Prince 1990
Joachim Prince 1991
Margrethe II Queen  Y 1958
Marie Princess  Y 2014
Mary Crown Princess 2005
  Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves Former President 2014
Arnold Rüütel 2002
  Finland Martti Ahtisaari 1994
Tellervo Koivisto Former President's wife 1983
Sauli Niinistö President 2012
Tarja Halonen Former President 2000
  Germany Joachim Gauck Former President 2014
Horst Köhler 2007
Marianne von Weizsäcker Former first lady 1986
  Iran Farah Pahlavi Former Empress 1965
  Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson President 2017
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson Former President 1998
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir  Y 1982
  Italy Sergio Mattarella President  Y 2016
  Japan Akihito Emperor Emeritus  Y 2001, 1953
Masako Empress (when Crown Princess) 2001
Michiko Empress Emerita 2001
Naruhito Emperor (when Crown Prince) 2001
Nobuko Princess 2001
  Jordan Abdullah II King 2000
Hussein Crown Prince 2020
Hassan Prince (when Crown Prince) 1980
Rania Queen 2000
  Latvia Guntis Ulmanis Former President 1998
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga 2000
Andris Bērziņš 2015
  Lithuania Valdas Adamkus 1998
Dalia Grybauskaitė 2011
  Luxembourg Henri Grand Duke  Y 2011
Maria Teresa Grand Duchess  Y 1996
  Netherlands Beatrix Former Queen (when Princess)  Y 1964
Margriet Princess  Y 1964
Willem-Alexander King  Y 2021, 1996
Máxima Queen 2013
  Norway Astrid Princess  Y 1956
Kjell Magne Bondevik Former Prime Minister  Y 2004
Lars Petter Forberg Former Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household 2004
Åge Bernhard Grutle 2015
Haakon Crown Prince  Y 1991
Magne Hagen Former Cabinet Secretary to the King  Y 2000
Harald V King  Y
Grand Master
1955, 1991
Ingrid Alexandra Princess  Y 2022
Märtha Louise Princess  Y 1989
Mette-Marit Crown Princess  Y 2016, 2001
Edvard Moser Professor, psychologist and neuroscientist, Nobel laureat 2018
May-Britt Moser Professor, psychologist and neuroscientist, Nobel laureat 2018
Gry Mølleskog Former Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household 2022
Arne Omholt Former Marshal of the Court 2016
Carsten Smith Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway 2003
Sonja Queen  Y 1972
Berit Tversland Former Cabinet Secretary to the King  Y 2012
  Poland Andrzej Duda President 2016
Bronislaw Komorowski Former President 2012
Aleksander Kwaśniewski Former President 1996
Lech Wałęsa Former President 1995
  Portugal António Ramalho Eanes Former President  Y 1978
Aníbal Cavaco Silva Former President  Y 2008
  Romania Emil Constantinescu Former President 1999
  South Korea Moon Jae-in Former President 2019
  Slovakia Andrej Kiska Former President  Y 2018
Ivan Gašparovič 2010
  Slovenia Borut Pahor Former President 2019
Danilo Türk Former President 2011
  Spain Cristina Princess 1995
Elena 1995
Felipe King 1995
Juan Carlos I Former King  Y 1982
Sofía Former Queen  Y 1982
  Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf King  Y 1974
Carl Philip Prince  Y 2005
Christina Princess 1992
Daniel Prince 2022
Désirée Princess 1992
Madeleine 2005
Silvia Queen 1982
Victoria Crown Princess 1995
  Thailand Sirikit Former Queen  Y 1965
  Turkey Abdullah Gül Former president  Y 2013
  United Kingdom Charles III King  Y 1978
Andrew Prince and Duke of York  Y 1988
Edward Prince and Duke of Kent  Y 1988
Richard Prince and Duke of Gloucester 1973

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Hieronymussen & Lundø 1968, p. 102.
  2. ^ Statutes, §2
  3. ^ Hieronymussen & Lundø 1968, fig. 8, p. 102.
  4. ^ "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  5. ^ section 5, Statues of the Order of St. Olav
  6. ^ section 3, Statues of the Order of St. Olav

Works citedEdit

  • Hieronymussen, Poul Ohm; Lundø, Jørgen, eds. (1968). Eurooppalaiset kunniamerkit värikuvina [Europæiske ordner i farver] (in Finnish). Translated by Karnila, Christer. Porvoo: WSOY. OCLC 466954328.

External linksEdit