Order of the Oak Crown
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The Order of the Oak Crown was instituted by the Grand Duke-King William II, in 1841. At that time, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands were in personal union; although the Order was technically a Luxembourgian award, it was often used by William II and his successor, Grand Duke-King William III, as a house order to reward Dutch subjects, beyond the control of the Dutch government.
William II conferred the order on fewer than 30 recipients. His successor, William III, liked the ability to confer this Order on his sole discretion, and awarded 300 decorations on the day of his coronation alone. In the following years hundreds of additional awards of the Order were made. Indeed, there were so many recipients in the Netherlands itself that the Order was widely regarded as a Dutch decoration.
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 the Queen of the Netherlands. Since the Erneuter Erbverein, the house-treaty between the two branches of the House of Nassau, which followed the Salic Law, did not allow women to succeed the throne as long as male heirs of the House of Nassau existed, the throne of Luxembourg went to a German relative of the queen, her great-uncle on her mothers side Adolphe, Duke of Nassau, with the title of Grand Duke. The Order of the Oak Crown remained a Luxembourgian award; the Netherlands established the Order of Orange-Nassau instead.
Since the accession of Grand Duke Adolphe, the Order has been primarily an award for Luxembourgers, though it has occasionally been conferred upon foreigners, mainly on members of foreign Royal families or notable foreigners of Luxembourger descent.
The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is the Grand Master of the Order.
Grades and Insignia
When first established in 1841, the Order of the Oak Crown was constituted in a hurry, as the Grand Duke wanted to establish the Order before the Grand Duchy was granted a codified constitution (as it was in 1848). The badge, the ribbon, and the (then) four-class structure of the order were inspired by the Russian Order of St. George. This was probably because William II was married to a daughter of the Emperor Paul I of Russia, and also had received the Order of St. George for his meritorious command at the Battle of Waterloo.
Nowadays the Order consists of five grades:
- Grand Cross - wears the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, and the plaque on the left chest;
- Grand Officer - wears the badge on a necklet, and the plaque on the left chest;
- Commander - wears the badge on a necklet;
- Officer - wears the badge on a chest ribbon with rosette on the left chest;
- 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.
Gold medal; later, Gilt medal
- 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 recipients
- Floris Adriaan van Hall
- François Altwies
- Jean Bernard
- Alphonse Berns
- Charles, Count of Limburg Stirum
- Charles, Prince of Wales
- Anne, Princess Royal
- Augustin Dumon-Dumortier
- Giustino Fortunato
- Hugo Gernsback
- Dennis Hastert
- Jean Hengen
- Auguste Laval
- Henry J. Leir
- Astrid Lulling
- Perle Mesta
- Nursultan Nazarbayev
- Jean-Baptiste Nothomb
- Pierre Notting
- Samuel Sarphati
- Otto Schily
- Émile Servais
- Ludwig Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen
- Joseph Weyland
- Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange
- Legislative texts (French & German) :
- Mémorial A n° 1 du 03.01.1842, Arrêté royal grand-ducal du 29 décembre 1841, Litt. A, portant institution, pour le Grand-Duché du Luxembourg d'un Ordre de la Couronne de Chêne. (Foundation of the Order)
- Mémorial A n° 37 du 16.07.1845, Arrêté royal grand-ducal du 8 juillet 1845, N° 1395, statuant que les insignes de l'ordre de la Couronne de Chêne doivent être renvoyés à la Chancellerie d'État à La Haye après le décès des membres de l'ordre (Decorations of the Order must be returned after death or promotion)
- Mémorial A n° 1 du 06.01.1855, Arrêté royal grand-ducal du 2 septembre 1854 concernant les frais de l'Ordre de la Couronne de chêne (Costs of the Order)
- Mémorial A n° 6 du 23.02.1858, Arrêté royal grand-ducal du 5 février 1858 modifiant celui du 29 décembre 1841, portant institution de l'Ordre de la Couronne de Chêne (Creation of the rank of Officer)
- Mémorial A n° 28 du 05.11.1872, Arrêté royal grand-ducal du 28 octobre 1872 concernant les insignes de l'Ordre de la Couronne de chêne. (Gold medal replaced by a silver-gilt medal)
- Mémorial A n° 56 du 24.08.1876, Circulaire du 21 août 1876 - Ordre de la Couronne de chêne. (Return and wearing of decorations)
- Honorary distinctions of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - Official website of the Luxembourg gouvernement