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Order of the Oak Crown

The Order of the Oak Crown (French: Ordre de la Couronne de chêne, German: Eichenlaubkronenorden, Luxembourgish: Eechelaafkrounenuerden) is an order of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Order of the Oak Crown
Ordre de la Couronne de chêne  (French)
Eichenlaubkronenorden  (German)
Eechelaafkrounenuerden  (Luxembourgish)
Order of the Oak Crown grand cross star (Luxembourg 1970) - Tallinn Museum of Orders.jpg
Grand Cross Star of the order
Awarded by Grand Duke of Luxembourg
TypeChivalric order with five grades
Established29 December 1841
MottoJe maintiendrai ("I will maintain")
EligibilityEligible to members of government, 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 to volunteers. Can also be awarded to foreigners.
Awarded forLuxembourg citizens who performed outstanding civil and military services, as well for distinguished artists who made outstanding achievements.
StatusCurrently constituted
Grand MasterHenri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
ChancellorXavier Bettel
GradesGrand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, Knight
Former gradesKnight Grand Cross, Knight of the Star, Knight Commander
Precedence
Next (higher)Order of Adolphe of Nassau
Next (lower)Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Ordre de la couronne de Chene Chevalier ribbon.svg
Ribbon bar of the order

HistoryEdit

The Order of the Oak Crown was established in 1841 by Grand Duke William II, who was also King of the Netherlands. At that time, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands were in personal union in which both nations shared the same person as their respective head of state, though remaining as two distinct and independent nations. Although the order was legally a Luxembourgish honour, it was often used by William II and his successor, King-Grand Duke William III, as a house order of the Nassau dynasty to reward Dutch subjects, beyond the control of the Dutch government.

William II conferred membership of the order on fewer than 30 recipients. His successor, William III, liked the ability to confer membership of this order at his sole discretion, and awarded 300 decorations on the day of his investiture alone. In the following years, hundreds of additional awards of the order were made. Indeed, there were so many recipients in the Kingdom of the Netherlands itself that the order was widely (and falsely) regarded as a Dutch honour.

Membership of the Order of the Oak Crown ceased to be awarded to Dutch subjects in 1890, when Queen Wilhelmina, as the only remaining member of the House of Orange-Nassau, succeeded her father as new Queen of the Netherlands. Since the Erneuter Erbverein, the Salic Law-based house-treaty between the two branches of the House of Nassau (the junior branch of Orange-Nassau and the senior branch of Nassau-Weilburg (present-day Luxembourg-Nassau)), did not allow women to succeed to the throne of Luxembourg as long as male heirs of the House of Nassau (in both branches) existed, the throne of Luxembourg went to a German relative of the new Dutch queen, also her maternal great-uncle Adolphe, Duke of Nassau, who became Grand Duke of Luxembourg at age 73. The Order of the Oak Crown remained a solely Luxembourgish honour; subsequently, the Netherlands established the Order of Orange-Nassau instead.

Since the accession of Grand Duke Adolphe, the order has been primarily used as an award for Luxembourgish citizens, although membership has occasionally been conferred on foreigners, mainly on members of foreign royal families or on eminent foreigners with Luxembourgish ancestors.

The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is the Grand Master of the order.

Grades and insigniaEdit

 
Officer's cross
 
Knight's cross

 

OriginEdit

After the abdication of King-Grand Duke William I in 1841, his successor William II granted Luxembourg a written anti-liberal constitution (called the Charter) in order to strengthen his authority over the country. At the same occasion, he established the Order of the Oak Crown with the idea to be able to reward loyal supporters of his regime in liberal-minded Luxembourg.[1]

The badge, the ribbon, and the (then) four-class hierarchy of the order were inspired by the Russian Order of St. George. This was probably due to the fact that William II was married to a daughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia, and that he had received the Order of St. George for his meritorious command in the Battle of Waterloo.

GradesEdit

Nowadays, the order consists of five grades:

  1. Grand Cross - wears the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, and the plaque on the left chest;
  2. Grand Officer - wears the badge on a necklet, and the plaque on the left chest;
  3. Commander - wears the badge on a necklet;
  4. Officer - wears the badge on a chest ribbon with rosette on the left chest;
  5. Knight - wears the badge on a chest ribbon on the left chest;

plus gilt, silver and bronze medals, who wear the medal on a chest ribbon on the left chest.

Ribbon bars
 
Grand Cross
 
Grand Officer
 
Commander
 
Officer
 
Knight
 
Gold medal; later, Gilt medal
 
Silver medal
 
Bronze medal

InsigniaEdit

  • The badge of the order is a gilt cross pattée, enamelled in white; the Officer class has a green enamelled oak wreath between the arms of the cross. The central disc bears the crowned monogram "W" (for William) on a green enamel background.
  • The plaque of the order is (for Grand Cross) an eight-pointed faceted silver star, or (for Grand Officer) a faceted silver Maltese Cross. The central disc bears the crowned monogram "W" (for William) on a green enamel background, surrounded by a red enamel ring with the motto Je Maintiendrai ("I Will Maintain", now the national motto of the Netherlands), in turn surrounded by a green enamelled oak wreath.
  • The medal of the order is in an octagonal shape, with the motif of the badge of the Order without enamel on the obverse, and an oak wreath without enamel on the reverse.
  • The ribbon of the order is yellow-orange moiré with three dark green stripes. The colors are said to be inspired by the oak forests and the fields of rue of the Luxembourg countryside.

Selection of recipientsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Gilbert Trausch, Le Luxembourg à l'époque contemporaine, p27ff, Publisher Bourg-Bourger, Luxembourg 1981

External linksEdit