Order of the Crown (Belgium)
|Order of the Crown|
|Officer of the Order of the Crown (obverse)|
|Awarded by Kingdom of Belgium|
|Type||Order of Merit with five classes, plus two palms and three medals|
|Motto||TRAVAIL ET PROGRES -
ARBEID EN VOORUITGANG
|Day||Awarded on 8 April (Birthday of King Albert I) and 15 November (King's Feast), and for obliging cases on 21 July (Belgian national holiday).|
|Eligibility||Eligible for persons above the age of 42|
|Awarded for||Meritorious service to the Belgian state|
|Sovereign||His Majesty King Philippe|
|Grades (w/ post-nominals)||Grand Cross
|Established||15 October 1897
1897 - 1908 (Order of Congo)
1908 - present (as Belgian Order)
|Next (higher)||Royal Order of the Lion|
|Next (lower)||Order of Leopold II|
The Order of the Crown (French: Ordre de la Couronne, Dutch: Kroonorde) is an order of the Kingdom of Belgium established on October 15, 1897 by King Leopold II in his capacity as ruler of the Congo Free State. The order was first intended to recognize heroic deeds and distinguished service achieved for service in the Congo Free State—many of which acts soon became highly controversial. In 1908, the Order of the Crown was made a national decoration of Belgium, junior to the Order of Leopold.
Currently, the Order of the Crown is awarded for services rendered to the Belgian state, especially for meritorious service in public employment. The Order of the Crown is also awarded for distinguished artistic, literary or scientific achievements, or for commercial or industrial services in Belgium or Africa.
The Order may also be bestowed to foreign nationals and is frequently awarded to military and diplomatic personnel of other countries stationed in (or providing support to) Belgium. During the Second World War, the Order of the Crown was extensively authorized for award to Allied military personnel who had helped to liberate Belgium from the occupation forces of Nazi Germany.
The Order of the Crown is awarded by royal decree.
The Order of the Crown is awarded in five classes, plus two palms and three medals:
- Grand Cross, which wears the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest;
- Grand Officer, which wears a star on the left chest, and may also wear the neck badge;
- Commander, which wears the badge on a neck ribbon;
- Officer, which wears the badge on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest;
- Knight, which wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;
- Golden Palms, which wears a wreath of golden palms on a ribbon on the left chest;
- Silver Palms, which wears a wreath of silver palms on a ribbon on the left chest;
- Gold Medal, who wears the medal on the left chest;
- Silver Medal, who wears the medal on the left chest;
- Bronze Medal, who wears the medal on the left chest.
The badge of the Order is a white-enamelled Maltese cross with straight rays, in silver for the Knight class and in gold for the higher classes. The obverse central disc has a gold crown on a blue enamelled background; the reverse central disc has the face-to-face monogram "L" (for King Leopold II) on a blue enamelled background. The badge is suspended from a green-enamelled wreath of laurel and oak leaves.
The plaque for Grand Cross is a faceted silver five-pointed star with golden rays between the branches of the star. The centre shows the obverse of a commander's cross. The plaque for Grand Officer is a faceted five-armed 'Maltese asterisk' (see Maltese cross), with golden rays between the arms. The centre shows the obverse of an officer's cross.
The medal is round in gold, silver and bronze versions, with a suspension in the form of a royal crown with two pendelia and a ribbon ring. The obverse shows a finely ribbed central area with bead surround, with the royal crown superimposed. The surrounding circlet carries the motto of the Belgian Congo: Travail et Progrès (work and progress) —the later issues are bilingual including the Dutch Arbeid en Vooruitgang in the lower half of the circlet. The reverse is a stylised 'double L' crowned Leopold II monogram within a palm wreath.
The ribbon of the order is usually plain maroon. However, if the order is awarded in special circumstances, the ribbon of the Officer and Knight classes show the following variations:
- Crossed swords are added to the ribbon when awarded in wartime (if the order was awarded during the Second World War or during the Korean War, a small bar is added to the ribbon mentioning the name of the war);
- The ribbon has a vertical gold border on both sides when awarded for a special act of valour;
- The ribbon has a central vertical gold stripe when awarded for an exceptionally meritorious act;
- A gold star is added to the ribbon when the recipient has been mentioned in despatches at the national level;
- Silver or gold palms are added to the ribbon when awarded in wartime to military personnel.
Stars and borders or stripes can be awarded together, but these deviations are currently only rarely awarded.
The ribbon of the palms and medals has a vertical white border on both sides as well as a metal pin showing a reduction of the palm or medal.
The ribbon bar of the order, which is worn on the semi-formal dress uniform is:
Despite the fact that, in contrast to the Order of Leopold, no maritime division of the Order of the Crown exists, some unofficial decorations with crossed anchors under the wreath are known to exist.
Current award conditions of Belgian national orders
National orders are awarded by royal decree at fixed dates: 8 April (birthday of King Albert I), 15 November (King's Feast), and in some cases on 21 July (Belgian national holiday) to reward meritorious services to the Kingdom of Belgium based on the career path and age of the recipient. A number of different regulations rule the award of national orders for the various ministries. In addition, the national orders may be awarded by the king for especially meritorious deeds. The royal decrees are published in the Belgian official journal, Moniteur Belge.
The ministry responsible for foreign affairs, currently the Federal Public Service (SPF/FOD) Foreign Affairs, administers the national orders and the minister has the role of advisor in cases not fitting within a regulation.
For the award of national orders for persons to whom no regulation applies or has been adopted, the number of awards is limited every year by decision of the Council of Ministers (contingent).
The classes of the national orders are integrated in a combined hierarchy defined by law, whereby within one class the Order of Leopold is senior to the Order of the Crown, which is senior to the Order of Leopold II. Except in some specific cases, one cannot be awarded a national order at a level below the highest that the recipient has already received (e.g. a commissioned officer who become a Commander of the Order of Leopold II because of meritorious personal service to the king before he became a Knight of the Order of Leopold may not be awarded the latter decoration or that of Officer of the Order of Leopold).
Persons who are the subject of criminal proceedings will usually not be awarded a national order until they are declared not guilty.
Award conditions to military personnel
The Order of the Crown is awarded to military personnel on the basis of their length of service, with the years of training counting for half:
- Grand Officer: Awarded after 38 years of meritorious service to a general officer with minimum rank of lieutenant-general;
- Commander: Awarded after 32 years of meritorious service to a field officer with minimum rank of colonel;
- Officer: Awarded after 25 years of meritorious service to a commissioned officer with minimum rank of captain;
- Knight: Awarded after 15 years of meritorious service to a commissioned officer, and after 35 years of meritorious service for a non-commissioned officer;
- Golden Palms: Awarded after 25 years of meritorious service to a non-commissioned officer, and after 35 years of service for a private or corporal;
- Silver Palms: Awarded after 30 years of meritorious service for a private or corporal.
For awards to military personnel, there is no minimum age requirement.
Award conditions for long civilian service
The palms and the medals of the Order of the Crown may be awarded to workers in the private sector or contractual employees of the public sector, as well as some public sector employees such as prison supervisors, ushers, burgomasters, police commissioners, local police officers, or members of town councils.
- Golden Palms: Awarded after 45 years of professional activity, or at the time of retirement after having worked for a minimum of 40 years;
- Gold Medal: Awarded after 35 years of professional activity.
In addition, the Gold Medal, the Silver Palms and the Golden Palms are awarded to the presidents, secretaries and members of the board of directors of representative trade organisations such as trade unions on the basis of the number of members of the organisation, of the length of their membership of the board, and on the length of their tenure on the board.
The Knight's Cross of the Order of the Crown is also awarded to the members of the national and provincial committees for the promotion of labour who have reached the age of 42 after a tenure of 10 years (national committee) or 20 years (provincial committee) and, after 30 years of service, to the secretaries of the provincial committees for the promotion of labour who have reached the age of 62.
The medal could also be awarded without the rigid 'time in service' criteria to administrators, directors, department heads, artisans, architects, chemists, specialist craftsmen, etc., each case for an award assessed on an individual basis.
The bronze medal appears to have be confined mainly to the Caucasian workers of the Belgian Congo or Congo Free State for 11 years service, apart from a period—duration unknown—when it was also used in Belgium to reward the firemen and rural guards for 40 years' service.
Even though orders from different States are not always easy to compare, the Order of the Crown is roughly equivalent to the following orders from other States.
- The British Order of the British Empire, which has similar classes, but with the difference that award of the Order of the Crown does not confer knighthood.
- The French Ordre National du Mérite, which is the second highest French order and has similar classes and award conditions.
- The Luxembourg Order of the Oak Crown, which is the third highest Luxembourgian order and has similar classes.
- The Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, which is the third Dutch national order and has similar classes.
- The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, which is currently the second highest Norwegian order and has similar classes.
- The Swedish Order of Vasa, which is the second highest Swedish order awarded more widely than to Heads of State and has similar classes. Prior to 1975, the Swedish Order of the Polar Star would be equivalent to the Order of the Crown instead.
Grand Masters :
- Category:Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- Category:Grand Crosses of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- Category:Grand Officers of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- Category:Commanders of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- Category:Officers of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- Category:Knights of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- Category:Recipients of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
The other Belgian orders :
- List of Orders, Decorations and Medals of the Kingdom of Belgium
- List of Belgian decorations (in an international listing)
- List of Belgian military decorations (in an international listing)
- Royal Decrees of 15 October 1897 and 25 June 1898 Creating the Order of the Crown
- Law of 1 May 2006 on the Award of Honours in the National Orders (Moniteur Belge of 24 October 2006)
- Royal Decree of 13 October 2006 Defining the Rules and Procedure for the Award of Honours in the National Orders (Moniteur Belge of 24 October 2006)
- Royal Decree of 24 January 1994 Creating the Insignia of Two Crossed Swords topped by a Bar Showing the Mention Korea
- Royal Decree of 18 April 1983 Creating the Insignia of Two Crossed Swords topped by a Bar Showing the Millesimes 40-45
- Royal Decree of 24 June 1919 Creating gold borders, gold stripes and gold stars for the National Orders Awarded in War Time (Moniteur Belge of 11–12 August 1919)
- Royal Decree of 15 November 1915 Creating Palms for the National Orders Awarded in War Time (Moniteur Belge of 28–30 November and 1–4 December 1915)
- Belgian military regulation A83 on Military Decorations
- Belgian military regulation DGHR-REG-DISPSYS-001 of 20 February 2006
- Belgian Ministry of Labour (SPF Emploi, Travail et Concertation Sociale), Clés pour les décorations du travail (Brussels: 2008)
- Borné A.C., Distinctions honorifiques de la Belgique, 1830-1985 (Bruxelles: 1985)
- Van Hoorebeke P., 175 Ans de l'Ordre de Léopold et les Ordres Nationaux Belges (MRA: 2007)