National Order of Merit (France)
|National Order of Merit|
Officer of the National Order of Merit (obverse)
|Awarded by France|
|Type||Order with five degrees|
|Awarded for||Distinguished civil and military achievements|
|Established||3 December 1963|
|Next (higher)||Médaille militaire|
|Next (lower)||Croix de guerre|
The National Order of Merit (French: Ordre national du Mérite) is an Order of State with membership (about 2500 members) awarded by the President of the French Republic. It was founded on 3 December 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle. The reason of the Order’s establishment was twofold: to replace the large number of ministerial orders previously awarded by the ministries; and to create an award that can be awarded at a lower level than the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour), which is generally reserved for French citizens.
Statute of the Order 
French citizens as well as foreign nationals, men and women, can be received into the Order, for distinguished civil or military achievements, though of a lesser level than that required for the award of the Légion d'honneur. The President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order, by convention, on the advice of the Government. The Order has a common Chancellor and Chancery with the Légion d'honneur. Every Prime Minister of France is made a grand cross of the order after 24 months of service.
- Chevalier (Knight): to be of a minimum age of 35, have a minimum of 10 years of public service (although, in practice, 15 years is the minimum commonly needed to be conferred the rank of Chevalier), and "distinguished merits" (for active duty commissioned officers, this is achieved after fifteen years of meritorious service).
- Officier (Officer): minimum of 5 years in the rank of Chevalier (for active duty commissioned officers, this is achieved after seven years in the rank of Chevalier).
- Commandeur (Commander): minimum of 5 years in the rank of Officier (for active duty commissioned officers, this is achieved after five years the rank of Officier).
- Grand Officier (Grand Officer): minimum 3 years in the rank of Commandeur.
- Grand-Croix (Grand Cross): minimum 3 years in the rank of Grand Officier.
Defunct ministerial orders 
The Ordre National du Mérite replaced the following ministerial and colonial orders:
- Colonial orders
- Ordre de l'Étoile d'Anjouan (1874) (Order of the Star of Anjouan)
- Ordre du Nichan El-Anouar (1887) (Order of Nishaan-e-Anuar or Order of Light)
- Ordre de l'Étoile Noire (1889) (Order of the Black Star)
- Special ministerial orders of merit
- Ordre du Mérite social (fr) (Social Order of Merit) (1936)
- Ordre de la Santé publique (Order of Public Health) (1938)
- Ordre du Mérite commercial et industriel (fr) (Order of Commercial and Industrial Merit) (1939)
- Ordre du Mérite artisanal (fr) (Order of Artisanal Merit) (1948)
- Ordre du Mérite touristique (fr) (Tourism Order of Merit) (1949)
- Ordre du Mérite combattant (fr) (Combatant's Order of Merit) (1953)
- Ordre du Mérite postal (fr) (Postal Order of Merit) (1953)
- Ordre de l'Économie nationale (fr) (Order of the National Economy) (1954)
- Ordre du Mérite sportif (fr) (Sporting Order of Merit) (1956)
- Ordre du Mérite du Travail (fr) (Order of Work Merit) (1957)
- Ordre du Mérite militaire (fr) (Order of Military Merit) (1957)
- Ordre du Mérite Civil (Civil Order of Merit) (1957)
- Ordre du Mérite Saharien (Saharan Order of Merit) (1958)
Insignia and wear 
- Grand-Croix - wears the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest;
- Grand Officier - wears the badge on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest, plus the star on the right chest;
- Commandeur - wears the badge on a ribbon around the neck;
- Officier - wears the badge on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest;
- Chevalier - wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest.
- The medal of the Order is a six-armed Maltese asterisk in gilt (silver for chevalier) enamelled blue, with laurel leaves between the arms. The obverse central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République française (Republic of France). The reverse central disc has a set of crossed tricolores, surrounded by the name of the Order and its foundation date. The badge is suspended by a laurel wreath.
- The star (plaque) is worn by Grand-Croix (in gilt on the left breast) and Grand Officier (in silver on the right breast) respectively; it is a twelve-armed sunburst, with rays (formerly plain, now in blue enamel) between the arms. The central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République française and the name of the Order, and in turn surrounded by a wreath of laurel.
- The ribbon for the medal is a solid blue field. For the grade of Officier and above, a rosette is centered in the field. For the grades of Commandeur, Grand Officier, and Grand-Croix, the rosette is centered bar of silver; silver and gold, and a solid gold respectively.
Noteworthy members (partial list) 
The individuals listed below have been admitted as members of the Ordre national du Mérite:
See also 
- List of Foreign recipients of the Ordre national du Mérite
- Order (decoration)
- Ribbons of the French military and civil awards
- State decoration
- Nostradamus (9 August 2008). "L’Ordre national du Mérite". Les décorations Francaises (in French). Retrieved 2009-02-06.
- "Historique: Naissance des ordres" (in French). Association Nationale des Membres de l'Ordre National du Mérite. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of February 2009 of the equivalent article on the French Wikipedia.
- France Phaléristique (in French)