Order of Queen Maria Luisa
|Royal Order of Noble Ladies
of Queen Maria Luisa
Real Orden de Damas Nobles
de la Reina María Luisa
Badge of the Order
|Sash of the Order, belonging to the Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia|
|Award of the Kingdom of Spain|
|Type||Order of knighthood for women|
|Royal house||House of Bourbon|
|Sovereign||Letizia of Spain|
|Established||April 21, 1792|
|Next (higher)||Orden de Cisneros|
|Next (lower)||Real Orden de Reconocimiento Civil a las Víctimas del Terrorismo|
|Ribbon of the order|
The Royal Order of Noble Ladies of Queen Maria Luisa is an Order created by Charles IV of Spain by royal decree in April 21, 1792 at the request of his wife Queen Maria Luisa, to have a way to reward noble women who distinguished themselves for their services and talents, so it was established as a distinction reserved only for women.
The Order was defined as a strictly feminine reward system, ruled by the Queen and composed of thirty bands reserved for the Spanish high nobility. The first secretary of the Order was Don Miguel Banuelos and Power, retired Knight of the Order of Charles III, and General Stewart of the Army.
In 1796 the king raised the Order to a nobiliary dignity, granting their holders and their spouses the protocolar treatment of excellence, equating to Grandee of Spain and Knights Grand Crosses of the Order of Charles III. Later, during the short reign of Joseph I of Spain, it signed a decree of September 18, 1809, dissolving all military orders, including the female one of Maria Luisa, excepting only the order of the Golden Fleece, but these measures are logically canceled after their expulsion from Spain and the Bourbon restoration. Successive queens in turn inherited the prerogatives of the founding queen of the Order and the custom was established that the current queen of Spain would exercise the governorship of the Order.
In a Royal Decree of October 28, 1851, tax requirements, linked to this award were established, consisting of the payment of a fee income of 3,000 reais with a period of three months to pay them or give up the concession. Also included in the protocol for granting the authorization of the Council of Ministers and published in the Gaceta de Madrid (now Boletín Oficial del Estado). In 1869, after the dismissal of Isabella II, the ruler, General Francisco Serrano, 1st Duke of la Torre changed the name of the Order in Order of the Nobles Ladies of Spain.
Don Alfonso XII, by its Royal Decree of November 28, 1878, stated that the Noble Ladies could use on the left chest, the cross of the Order pending a ribbon like the Band, provided that the circumstance, by its importance, does not require the use of the cordon in the manner prescribed in the statutes of the Order.
Republican decree of July 24, 1931, without expressly referring to this Order, abolished in fact as an official institution. But both Alfonso XIII, until January 1941, as his son Juan de Borbón, Count of Barcelona, gave some bands of this Order to some princesses of his family; the latest to his daughters, Infantas Pilar and Margarita, to commemorate their eighteenth birthday. It was also granted to Dona Sophia of Greece when she became Princess of Spain by her marriage to the future Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1962 and she worn it at his proclamation ceremony on November 22, 1975.
Currently and according to the statutes, a single category is conserved: Noble Lady and the number remains limited to 30 titulars, unless express will of kings. Since the resignation of Don Juan de Borbón, Count of Barcelona to his dynastic rights on May 14, 1977, during the reign of Juan Carlos I, there has been no new appointments so that, although it formally remains in effect, it can be considered that this order is de facto extinct. 
Patronage and feast days
The patronage of the Order was entrusted to Saint Ferdinand, king of Castile and Leon and Saint Louis, king of France and during their feast days, May 30 and August 25 respectively, the Queen received protocolarly the Ladies in chapter. As well, the Noble Ladies of the Order were statutorily recommended special devotion to their patron saints and had to visit once a month a charity establishment, such as the Hospital de la Inclusa or some women hospital such as the Hospital de la Pasión.
Women rewarded by this distinction received it in a formal investiture ceremony described in the statute, which happened in the private rooms of the Queen at the Royal Palace, but sometimes, in case of serious illness or disability, they could be received in their own homes, delivered by a representative of the Queen.
Countless personalities, of Spain and many countries around the world, have received this distinction and remains one of the largest grants that can grant the Spanish monarchy to women as a mean of recognition of their "services, actions and qualities."
- Infanta Alicia, Dowager Duchess of Calabria - 1190th Dame
- Infanta Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz - 1191st Dame
- Infanta Margarita, 2nd Duchess of Hernani - 1192nd Dame
- Sofia, (Dowager) Queen of Spain - 1193rd Dame
- Letizia, Queen of Spain - 1194th Dame
Notes and sources
- Real Orden de Damas Nobles de la Reina María Luisa, La (Spanish)
- Dames of the Royal Order of Queen María Luisa of Spain
- Royal Order of Nobles Damas de María Luisa. Chivalric Orders. Retrieved April 15, 2013