The Order of the Elephant (Danish: Elefantordenen) is a Danish order of chivalry and is Denmark's highest-ranked honour. It has origins in the 15th century, but has officially existed since 1693, and since the establishment of constitutional monarchy in 1849, is now almost exclusively used to honour royalty and heads of state.
|Order of the Elephant|
|Awarded by |
Sovereign of Denmark
|Type||Chivalric order in one class|
(Latin: The prize of greatness)
|Awarded for||At the Monarch's pleasure|
(Danish: Ridder, abbr.: R.E.)
|First induction||1693 Christian V of Denmark|
|Last induction||2023 Queen Letizia of Spain|
|Next (higher)||None (Highest)|
|Next (lower)||Order of the Dannebrog|
Order of the Elephant ribbon
A Danish religious confraternity called the Fellowship of the Mother of God, limited to about fifty members of the Danish aristocracy, was founded during the reign of Christian I during the 15th century. The badge of the confraternity showed the Virgin Mary holding her Son within a crescent moon and surrounded with the rays of the sun, and was hung from a collar of links in the form of elephants much like the present collar of the Order. After the Reformation in 1536 the confraternity died out, but a badge in the form of an elephant with his profile on its right side was still awarded by Frederick II. This latter badge may have been inspired by the badge of office of the chaplain of the confraternity which is known to have been in the form of an elephant. The order was instituted in its current form on 1 December 1693 by King Christian V as having only one class consisting of only 30 noble knights in addition to the Grand Master (i.e., the king) and his sons. The statutes of the order were amended in 1958 by a Royal Ordinance so that both men and women could be members of the order.
The elephant and castle design derives from the howdah, a carriage that is mounted in the back of an elephant. This type of carriage was mostly utilized in the Indian subcontinent, and the Danish knew about and thus had the ability to adopt this design since they ruled certain parts of India as part of their small colonial empire. The unfamiliar Indian howdah has been replaced in this instance by a familiar European castle, although the Indian rider has been kept on the elephant.
The Danish monarch is the head of the order. The members of the royal family are members of the order, and foreign heads of state are also inducted. In very exceptional circumstances a commoner may also be admitted. The most recent member of the order who was neither a current nor former head of state nor royal was Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, a leading industrialist and philanthropist.
The order of the Elephant has one class: Knight of the Order of the Elephant (Ridder af Elefantordenen, usually abbreviated as R.E. in letters et cetera). Knights of the order are granted a place in the 1st Class of the Danish order of precedence.
Insignia and habits edit
- The collar of the order is of gold. It consists of alternating elephants and towers. On the cover of the elephants there is a D which stands for Dania, mediaeval Latin for Denmark. According to the statutes of the order, the collar is usually only worn on New Years Day (during the Danish monarch's New Years Court) and on major occasions (coronations or jubilees).
- The badge of the order is an elephant made of white-enamelled gold with blue housings. It is about 5 cm high. On its back the elephant is bearing a watch tower of pink enameled masonry encircled by a row of small table cut diamonds at the bottom with another row just below the crenellation at the top. In front of the tower and behind the elephant's head (which has a diamond set in its forehead and smaller diamonds for its eyes) a colorfully attired and turbaned Moor mahout is sitting, holding a golden rod; on the right side of the elephant there is a cross of five large table cut diamonds and on the left side the elephant bears the crowned monogram of the monarch reigning when it was made. At the top of the tower is a large enameled gold ring from which the badge can be hung from the collar or tied to the sash of the Order. There are about 72 elephants at the chancery of the Order or in circulation. It is estimated that together with an unknown number of elephants in museums around the world, the total number of the elephants is about a hundred.
- The star of the order is an eight-pointed silver star with smooth rays. At its center there is a red enameled disc with a white cross, surrounded by a laurel wreath in silver. It is worn on the left side of the chest.
- The sash of the order is of light-blue silk moiré and 10 cm wide for men 6 cm wide for women. It is placed on the left shoulder with the elephant resting against the right hip. The collar is not worn when the sash is used.
- The order originally had a distinctive habit worn by the knights on very solemn occasions consisting of a white doublet, white breeches, white stockings and white shoes, over which was worn a red mantle with a white lining and with the star of the order embroidered in silver on left side. Over this red mantle was worn a short white shoulder cape with a standing collar, embroidered with scattering of numerous gold flames, upon which was worn the collar of the order (the habit was always worn with the collar of the order, never its ribbon). The habit also had a black hat with a plume of white and red ostrich feathers. This habit was almost identical to that worn by the knights of the Order of the Dannebrog.
Upon the death of a Knight of the Order of the Elephant, the insignia of the order must be returned. There are a few exceptions known.
Current knights and officers edit
Sovereign of the Royal Danish Orders of Chivalry edit
- The Queen of Denmark
Current Knights of the Elephant listed by date of appointment edit
|The Dowager Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg||20 April 1947||Royal family|
Then Princess Benedikte of Denmark
|/ Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes||20 April 1947||Royal family|
Then Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark
|The Emperor Emeritus of Japan||8 August 1953||Then Crown Prince|
|The King of Norway||21 February 1958||Then Crown Prince|
|The Queen Mother of Thailand||6 September 1960||Then Queen consort|
|Count Ingolf of Rosenborg||17 February 1961||Royal family|
Then Prince Ingolf of Denmark
|Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran||3 May 1963||Then Empress consort|
|Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark||11 September 1964|
|Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark||11 September 1964|
|The King of Sweden||12 January 1965||Then Crown Prince|
|The Prince Hitachi||28 September 1965|
|King Albert II of Belgium||18 June 1968||Then Prince of Liège|
|The Crown Prince of Denmark||14 January 1972||Royal family|
|Prince Joachim of Denmark||14 January 1972||Royal family|
|Princess Christina, Mrs. Magnuson||6 January 1973||Then Princess Christina of Sweden|
|The Queen of Norway||12 February 1973||Then Crown Princess|
|The King of the United Kingdom||30 April 1974||Then Prince of Wales|
|Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands||29 October 1975||Former Queen|
|King Juan Carlos I of Spain||17 March 1980||Then King|
|/ Queen Sofía of Spain||17 March 1980||Then Queen consort|
Born Princess of Greece and Denmark
|Vigdís Finnbogadóttir||25 February 1981||Former President of Iceland|
|António Ramalho Eanes||25 June 1984||Former President of the Portuguese Republic|
|The Queen of Sweden||3 September 1985|
|The Crown Prince of Norway||20 July 1991||Then Prince Haakon of Norway|
|Princess Märtha Louise of Norway||13 October 1992|
|Lech Wałęsa||5 July 1993||Former President of the Republic of Poland|
|Queen Paola of Belgium||16 May 1995||Then Queen consort|
|The Crown Princess of Sweden||14 July 1995|
|The Countess of Frederiksborg||17 November 1995||Formerly Princess Alexandra of Denmark|
|Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson||18 November 1996||Former President of Iceland|
|Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece||14 January 1997||Also Prince of Denmark|
|Guntis Ulmanis||18 March 1997||Former President of the Republic of Latvia|
|The King of the Netherlands||31 January 1998||Then Prince of Orange|
|Queen Noor Al Hussein of Jordan||27 April 1998||Then Queen consort|
|The Empress Emerita of Japan||2 June 1998||Then Empress consort|
|Fernando Henrique Cardoso||3 May 1999||Former President of the Federative Republic of Brazil|
|Emil Constantinescu||23 May 2000||Former President of Romania|
|Petar Stoyanov||17 October 2000||Former President of the Republic of Bulgaria|
|The King of Thailand||7 February 2001||Then Crown Prince|
|Tarja Halonen||3 April 2001||Former President of the Republic of Finland|
|Milan Kučan||10 October 2001||Former President of the Republic of Slovenia|
|The King of the Belgians||28 May 2002||Then Duke of Brabant|
|The Grand Duke of Luxembourg||20 October 2003|
|The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg||20 October 2003|
|Ion Iliescu||16 March 2004||Former President of Romania|
|The Crown Princess of Denmark||9 May 2004||Royal family|
|The Emperor of Japan||16 November 2004||Then Crown Prince|
|Georgi Parvanov||29 March 2006||Former President of the Republic of Bulgaria|
|Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva||12 September 2007||President of the Federative Republic of Brazil|
|Felipe Calderón Hinojosa||18 February 2008||Former President of the United Mexican States|
|Princess Marie of Denmark||24 May 2008||Royal family|
|Lee Myung-bak||11 May 2011||Former President of the Republic of Korea|
|Ivan Gašparovič||23 October 2012||Former President of the Slovak Republic|
|Sauli Niinistö||4 April 2013||President of the Republic of Finland|
|The Crown Princess of Norway||17 May 2014|
|Ivo Josipović||21 October 2014||Former President of the Republic of Croatia|
|The Queen of the Netherlands||17 March 2015|
|Enrique Peña Nieto||13 April 2016||Former President of the United Mexican States|
|Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson||24 January 2017||President of Iceland|
|The Queen of the Belgians||28 March 2017|
|Emmanuel Macron||28 August 2018||President of the French Republic|
|Frank-Walter Steinmeier||10 November 2021||Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany|
|Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway||21 January 2022|
|Prince Christian of Denmark||15 October 2023||Royal family|
|The King of Spain||6 November 2023|
|The Queen of Spain||6 November 2023|
Officers of the Chapter of the Royal Danish Orders of Chivalry edit
Chancellor of the Chapter edit
- (1808-1818): Joachim Godske Moltke, S.K., Privy Councillor of Denmark, Chamberlain
- (1824-1827): Frederik Julius Kaas, S.K., Privy Councillor of Denmark, Chamberlain
- (1828-1843): Johan Sigismund von Møsting, Minister of Finance
- (1843-1855): Poul Christian Stemann, Privy Councillor of Denmark
- (1856-1864): Adam Wilhelm Moltke, S.K., Prime Minister of Denmark
- (1864-1866): Count Carl Moltke, Privy Councillor of Denmark
- (1874-1889): F.F. Tillisch, Minister of the Interior
- (1889-1894): Sophus Danneskiold-Samsøe, S.K.
- (1894-1911): Prince Hans of Glücksburg, S.Kmd.
- (1911-1914): Christian Danneskiold-Samsøe, S.K.
- (1914-1949): Prince Harald of Denmark, S.Kmd.
- (1949-1968): Prince Viggo, Count of Rosenborg, S.Kmd.
- (1968-2009): Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark, S.Kmd.
- (2009–): Prince Joachim of Denmark, S.Kmd.
Historiographer of the Chapter edit
- (1808-1821): Abraham Kall, historian
- (1827-1851): Laurids Engelstoft, S.K., historian
- (1852-1893): C.F. Wegener, S.K., historian
- (1897-1921): Troels Troels-Lund, S.K., historian
- (1921-1951): Louis Bobé, K.1., historian
- (1951-1957): Bjørn Kornerup, K.1., historian
- (1958-1976): Albert Fabritius, K., historian
- (1976-1994): Tage Kaarsted, K., historian
- (1994-2018): Knud J.V. Jespersen, K.1., historian
- (2018–): Jes Fabricius-Møller, historian
Secretary of the Chapter edit
- (1671-1690): Bolle Luxdorph
- (1690-1742): Vincents Lerche, Master of Ceremonies
- (1742-1748): Niels Gersdorff, Chamberlain
- (1749-1771): Victor Christian von Plessen
- (1771-1778): Volrad August von der Lühe, Chamberlain
- (1778-1784): Engel Schack, Lord Chamberlain
- (1790-1791): Joachim Ulrich von Sperling
- (1792-1793): Johan Bülow, S.K., Lord Chamberlain
- (1793-1794): Ferdinand Ahlefeldt
- (1794-1808): Adam Wilhelm Hauch, Lord Chamberlain
- (1808-1836): Frederik Moltke, Prime Minister of Denmark
- (1840-1858): Carl Emil Moltke, Chamberlain
- (1860-1871): E.C. Werlauff, S.K., historian
- (1874-1885): J.P. Trap, private secretary to Frederik VII and Christian IX of Denmark
- (1888-1910): F.V.F. Rosenstand, private secretary to Christian IX of Denmark
- (1912-1936): Anthonius Krieger, Chamberlain and private secretary to Christian X of Denmark
- (1936-1957): Gunnar Bardenfleth, private secretary to Christian X and Frederik IX of Denmark
- (1957-1972): Morten Olufsen, Chamberlain and private secretary to Frederik IX of Denmark
- (1972-1987): Mogens Wahl, Chamberlain and private secretary to Margrethe II of Denmark
- (1987-2007): Niels Eilschou Holm, private secretary to Margrethe II of Denmark
- (2007–) Henning Fode, Chamberlain and private secretary to Margrethe II of Denmark
Treasurer of the Chapter edit
- (1808-1826): Johan Sigismund von Møsting, Minister of Finance
- (1826-1828): Ove Ramel Sehested, Minister of the Privy Council
- (1828-1831): Frantz Bülow
- (1831-1833): Johan Frederik Bardenfleth
- (1834-1840): Christian Ove Haxthausen, Chamberlain
- (1840-1852): Frederik Bardenfleth
- (1852-?): Sophus Danneskiold-Samsøe, S.K.
- (1876-1888): C.G.W. Johannsen, LL.D.
- (1888-1898): Carl Løvenskiold, Chamberlain
- (1898-1905): Ludvig Castenskiold
- (1905-1909): Hugo Egmont Hørring
- (1909-1918): Christian Moltke
- (1918-1933): Frederik Raben-Levetzau, Minister of Foreign Affairs
- (1944-1954): Johannes Hørring, LL.D.
- (1955-?): Rudolf Lassen
- (1991-2010): Paul Henning Fischer, LL.D., Ambassador, Chamberlain
- (2010–): Per Thornit, Chamberlain
Other notable knights edit
Previous knights have included:
- James III, King of Scots and son-in-law of Christian I of Denmark (1469)
- Tycho Brahe, astronomer (1578)
- Heinrich Rantzau, German-Danish humanist, writer, astrologer and statesman (1580)
- Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam, Dutch lieutenant-admiral (1659)
- Egbert Bartholomeusz Kortenaer, Dutch vice-admiral (1659)
- Cornelis Tromp, Dutch and Danish admiral-general (1676)
- Ernst Albrecht von Eberstein, military leader (1676)
- Ernst Heinrich von Schimmelmann, politician and landowner (1790)
- Duke William Frederick Philip of Württemberg, Danish general and Governor of Copenhagen during the (Battle of Copenhagen (1801))
- Albert, Prince Consort, (10 January 1843)
- J.B.S. Estrup, Danish landowner, politician and President of the Council of State (1878)
- Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy (1891)
- Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1909)
- Vilhelm Thomsen, professor, Dr. Phil., Danish linguist (1912)
- H.N. Andersen, Danish businessman, Consul-General, titular Councilor of State (1919)
- C.G.E. Mannerheim, President of the Republic of Finland, Marshal of Finland (1919)
- Umberto II, King of Italy, then Prince of Piedmont as heir to the throne (1922)
- Hirohito, Emperor of Japan then Crown prince (1923)
- Stanisław Wojciechowski, President of the Republic of Poland (1923)
- Tomáš Masaryk, President of the Czechoslovak Republic (1925)
- Reza Shah of Persia (former name of Iran) (1937)
- Miklós Horthy, Austro-Hungarian vice-admiral, Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary (1940)
- Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, British Field Marshal (1945)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, General of the Army (1945)
- Niels Bohr, professor, Dr. Phil. & Scient. & Techn., Danish physicist and Nobel laureate, Manifested Copenhagen interpretation ("atom theory") (1947)
- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1947)
- Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (then Princess) (1947)
- Sir Winston Churchill, British prime minister and Nobel laureate (1950)
- Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia (21 November 1954)
- Princess Elisabeth of Denmark, Danish diplomat and cousin of Margrethe II of Denmark (1962)
- King Constantine II of Greece (1962)
- Julius Nyerere, President of the United Republic of Tanzania (1970)
- Josip Broz Tito, President of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (1974)
- Richard von Weizsäcker, President of the Federal Republic of Germany (1989)
- Nicolae Ceauşescu, President of the Socialist Republic of Romania (Note: Awarded on the November 1980 state visit to Denmark, but revoked by the Queen on 23 December 1989. The insignia have been returned to Denmark and Ceauşescu's name has been deleted from the official rolls.)
- Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic (1993)
- Nelson Mandela, President of the Republic of South Africa (1996)
- Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, Danish shipping magnate (2000)
See also edit
- "The Royal Orders of Chivalry". The Danish Monarchy. 14 January 2011. Archived from the original on 9 March 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
- Rosenborg Slot – Objects[permanent dead link]
- The knights of the Order were often called the Blue Knights (in reference to the color of their ribbon), as opposed to the White Knights (again, in reference to the color of their ribbon) of the junior Danish order of chivalry, the Order of the Dannebrog, also instituted by Christian V.
- In an article entitled "Has anyone seen our elephant?" The 1 July 2004 issue of the Copenhagen Post reported that the original mold for the elephant badge had been stolen from the court jeweler, Georg Jensen.
- Originally this cross was formed of six brilliant cut diamonds, but at present it is formed of six small hemispherical silver beads.
- i.e., at Danish coronations.
- Official List of Knights of the Order of the Elephant Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Danish)
- Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
- Macdougall, Norman James III, A Political Study (1982)
- Salmonsens Konversationsleksikon, entry "Tycho Brahe" (in Danish)
- Salmonsens Konversationsleksikon, entry "Heinrich Rantzau" (in Danish)
- Journal of the Royal Armoury (in Danish). Aktiebolaget Thule. 1970. p. 170.
- Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 470. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
- Birger A. Andersen (20 April 2012). "Nu vil Margrethe have Mærsks Elefantorden tilbage". www.bt.dk.
- Rick Steves (25 June 2013). Rick Steves' Snapshot Copenhagen & the Best of Denmark. Avalon Travel. pp. 104–. ISBN 978-1-59880-632-8.
- Slater, Stephen (2013). The Illustrated Book of Heraldry. Wigston, Leicestershire: Lorenz Books. p. 225. ISBN 978-0-7548-2659-0.
- "H.K.H. Prins Philip, Hertugen af Edinburgh". Kongehuset (in Danish). 17 April 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
- "Burke's Peerage and Gentry > The Royal Family > HM Queen Elizabeth II". Burke's Peerage & Gentry and The Origins Network. Archived from the original on 1 December 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
- Jan Körner (2 February 2011). "Folkets fjender... Margrethes venner". ekstrabladet.dk.
Further reading edit
- Афонасенко И.М. Гербы российских кавалеров в гербовнике датского ордена Слона (Afonasenko, Igor. Coats of Arms of Russian Knights in the "Elefantordenens Våbenbog") / Геральдика - вспомогательная историческая дисциплина: Семинар ГЭ 24 апреля 2019 г. СПб., 2019. 34 стр. ISBN 978-5-93572-852-6.
- Boulton, D'Arcy Jonathan Dacre, 1987. The Knights of The Crown: The Monarchical Orders of Knighthood in Later Medieval Europe, 1325–1520, Woodbridge, Suffolk (Boydell Press) (revised edition 2000). History and insignia of the original confraternity of Christian I.
- Some of the Elephant badges on exhibit at Rosenborg Castle:
- Order of the Elephant ("Order of the Elephant". Retrieved 17 December 2015.) and Order of the Elephant Star.
- Order of the Elephant of Frederik II.
- Order of the Elephant of Christian IV.
- Order of the Elephant of Christian V, miniature.
- Order of the Elephant of Frederik VII, miniature.
- Order of Dannebrog and Order of Dannebrog Star.
- Ordre de l'Union Parfaite ("Ordre de l'Union Parfaite". Retrieved 17 December 2015.)
- Database over Danish Medals, including the Order of the Elephant