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.

  • Order of Saint Olav
  • Sankt Olavs Orden
Cross Norwegian Order of St. Olav.JPG
Cross of the Order of St. Olav
Awarded by
Royal Arms of Norway.svg
King of Norway
TypeChivalric order with five degrees
Established21 August 1847; 172 years ago (1847-08-21)
MottoRET OG SANDHED (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.[1] The order consists of three grades, of which two are divided into two classes, 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" (for "Oscar", the royal cipher of Oscar I, the Order's founder), 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" (for "Oscar") 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; 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" (for "Oscar") 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.[2]

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

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.

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.[3] 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.[4]


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 Former President  Y 2007
  Belgium Albert II Former King  Y 1964
  Belgium Mathilde Queen  Y 2003
  Belgium Paola Former Queen  Y 1997
  Belgium Philippe King  Y 2003
  Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Former President  Y 2003
  Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov Former President  Y 2006
  Chile Sebastián Piñera President  Y 2019
  Croatia Ivo Josipović Former president  Y 2011
  Denmark Benedikte Princess  Y 1974
  Denmark Frederik Crown Prince  Y 1990
  Denmark Joachim Prince  Y 1991
  Denmark Margrethe II Queen  Y 1958
  Denmark Marie Princess  Y 2014
  Denmark Mary Crown Princess  Y 2005
  Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves Former President  Y 2014
  Estonia Arnold Rüütel Former President  Y 2002
  Finland Martti Ahtisaari Former President  Y 1994
  Finland Tellervo Koivisto Former President's wife  Y 1983
  Finland Sauli Niinistö President  Y 2012
  Finland Tarja Halonen Former President  Y 2000
  France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Former President (when Minister of Finance)  Y 1962
  Germany Joachim Gauck Former President  Y 2014
  Germany Horst Köhler Former President  Y 2007
  Germany Marianne von Weizsäcker Former first lady  Y 1986
Greece Constantine II Former King  Y  Y 1964, 1962
  Iran Farah Pahlavi Former Empress  Y 1965
  Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson President  Y 2017
  Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson Former President  Y 1998
  Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Former President  Y 1982
  Italy Sergio Mattarella President  Y 2016
  Japan Akihito Emperor Emeritus  Y  Y 2001, 1953
  Japan Masako Empress (when Crown Princess)  Y 2001
  Japan Michiko Empress Emerita  Y 2001
  Japan Naruhito Emperor (when Crown Prince)  Y 2001
  Japan Nobuko Princess  Y 2001
  Jordan Abdullah II King  Y 2000
  Jordan Hussein Crown Prince  Y 2020
  Jordan Hassan Prince (when Crown Prince)  Y ?
  Jordan Rania Queen  Y 2000
  Latvia Guntis Ulmanis Former President  Y 1998
  Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga Former President  Y 2000
  Latvia Andris Bērziņš Former President  Y 2015
  Lithuania Valdas Adamkus Former President  Y 1998
  Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė Former President  Y 2011
  Luxembourg Henri Grand Duke  Y 2011
  Luxembourg Maria Teresa Grand Duchess  Y 1996
  Netherlands Beatrix Former Queen (when Princess)  Y 1964
  Netherlands Margriet Princess  Y 1964
  Netherlands Willem-Alexander King  Y 1996
  Netherlands Máxima Queen  Y 2013
  Norway Astrid Princess  Y 1956
  Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik Former Prime Minister  Y 2004
  Norway Lars Petter Forberg Former Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household  Y 2004
  Norway Åge Bernhard Grutle Former Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household  Y 2015
  Norway Haakon Crown Prince  Y 1991
  Norway Magne Hagen Former Cabinet Secretary to the King  Y 2000
  Norway Harald V King  Y
Grand Master
1955, 1991
  Norway Märtha Louise Princess  Y 1989
  Norway Mette-Marit Crown Princess  Y  Y 2001, 2016
  Norway Edvard Moser Professor, psychologist and neuroscientist, Nobel laureat  Y 2018
  Norway May-Britt Moser Professor, psychologist and neuroscientist, Nobel laureat  Y 2018
  Norway Arne Omholt Former Marshal of the Court  Y 2016
  Norway Carsten Smith Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway  Y 2003
  Norway Sonja Queen  Y 1972
  Norway Berit Tversland Former Cabinet Secretary to the King  Y 2012
  Poland Andrzej Duda President  Y 2016
  Poland Bronislaw Komorowski Former President  Y 2012
  Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski Former President  Y 1996
  Poland Lech Wałęsa Former President  Y 1995
  Portugal António Ramalho Eanes Former President  Y 1978
  Portugal Jorge Sampaio Former President  Y 2004
  Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva Former President  Y 2008
  Romania Emil Constantinescu Former President  Y 1999
  South Korea Moon Jae-in President  Y 2019
  Slovakia Andrej Kiska Former President  Y 2018
  Slovakia Ivan Gašparovič Former President  Y 2010
  Slovenia Borut Pahor President  Y 2019
  Slovenia Danilo Türk Former President  Y 2011
  Spain Cristina Princess  Y 1995
  Spain Elena Princess  Y 1995
  Spain Felipe King  Y 1995
  Spain Juan Carlos I Former King  Y 1982
  Spain Sofía Former Queen  Y 1982
  Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf King  Y 1974
  Sweden Carl Philip Prince  Y 2005
  Sweden Christina Princess  Y 1992
  Sweden Désirée Princess  Y 1992
  Sweden Madeleine Princess  Y 2005
  Sweden Silvia Queen  Y 1982
  Sweden Victoria Crown Princess  Y 1995
  Thailand Sirikit Former Queen  Y 1965
  Turkey Abdullah Gül Former president  Y 2013
  United Kingdom Elizabeth II Queen  Y 1955
  United Kingdom Philip Prince consort and Duke of Edinburgh  Y 1952
  United Kingdom Andrew Prince and Duke of York  Y 1988
  United Kingdom Charles Prince of Wales  Y 1978
  United Kingdom Edward Prince and Duke of Kent  Y 1988
  United Kingdom Richard Prince and Duke of Gloucester  Y 1973

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Statutes, §2
  2. ^ "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  3. ^ section 5, Statues of the Order of St. Olav
  4. ^ section 3, Statues of the Order of St. Olav

External linksEdit