Order of the Oak Crown
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|Order of the Oak Crown|
Ordre de la Couronne de chêne (French)
Grand Cross Star of the order
|Awarded by Grand Duke of Luxembourg|
|Type||Chivalric order with five grades|
|Established||29 December 1841|
|Motto||Je maintiendrai ("I will maintain")|
|Eligibility||Eligible to members of government, deputies, state councillors, civil servants, elected representatives and personnel of municipal administrations, key players of the economic, social, cultural or sport sectors as well as to volunteers. Can also be awarded to foreigners.|
|Awarded for||Luxembourg citizens who performed outstanding civil and military services, as well for distinguished artists who made outstanding achievements.|
|Grand Master||Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg|
|Grades||Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, Knight|
|Former grades||Knight Grand Cross, Knight of the Star, Knight Commander|
|Next (higher)||Order of Adolphe of Nassau|
|Next (lower)||Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg|
Ribbon bar of the order
The Order of the Oak Crown was established in 1841 by Grand Duke William II, who was also King of the Netherlands. At that time, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands were in personal union in which both nations shared the same person as their respective head of state, though remaining as two distinct and independent nations. Although the order was legally a Luxembourgish honour, it was often used by William II and his successor, King-Grand Duke William III, as a house order of the Nassau dynasty to reward Dutch subjects, beyond the control of the Dutch government.
William II conferred membership of the order on fewer than 30 recipients. His successor, William III, liked the ability to confer membership of this order at his sole discretion, and awarded 300 decorations on the day of his investiture alone. In the following years, hundreds of additional awards of the order were made. Indeed, there were so many recipients in the Kingdom of the Netherlands itself that the order was widely (and falsely) regarded as a Dutch honour.
Membership of 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 new Queen of the Netherlands. Since the Erneuter Erbverein, the Salic Law-based house-treaty between the two branches of the House of Nassau (the junior branch of Orange-Nassau and the senior branch of Nassau-Weilburg (present-day Luxembourg-Nassau)), did not allow women to succeed to the throne of Luxembourg as long as male heirs of the House of Nassau (in both branches) existed, the throne of Luxembourg went to a German relative of the new Dutch queen, also her maternal great-uncle Adolphe, Duke of Nassau, who became Grand Duke of Luxembourg at age 73. The Order of the Oak Crown remained a solely Luxembourgish honour; subsequently, the Netherlands established the Order of Orange-Nassau instead.
Since the accession of Grand Duke Adolphe, the order has been primarily used as an award for Luxembourgish citizens, although membership has occasionally been conferred on foreigners, mainly on members of foreign royal families or on eminent foreigners with Luxembourgish ancestors.
The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is the Grand Master of the order.
Grades and insignia
After the abdication of King-Grand Duke William I in 1841, his successor William II granted Luxembourg a written anti-liberal constitution (called the Charter) in order to strengthen his authority over the country. At the same occasion, he established the Order of the Oak Crown with the idea to be able to reward loyal supporters of his regime in liberal-minded Luxembourg.
The badge, the ribbon, and the (then) four-class hierarchy of the order were inspired by the Russian Order of St. George. This was probably due to the fact that William II was married to a daughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia, and that he had received the Order of St. George for his meritorious command in 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
- Father Jean Bernard
- Alphonse Berns
- Xavier Bettel
- Charles, Count of Limburg Stirum
- Charles, Prince of Wales
- Anne, Princess Royal
- Augustin Dumon-Dumortier
- Giustino Fortunato
- Hugo Gernsback
- Dennis Hastert
- Jean Hengen
- Berend Heringa
- Guillaume Konsbruck
- Auguste Laval
- Henry J. Leir
- Astrid Lulling
- Jean Baptiste Antoine Marcellin de Marbot
- Perle Mesta
- Nursultan Nazarbayev
- Jean-Baptiste Nothomb
- Pierre Notting
- Samuel Sarphati
- Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
- Otto Schily
- Émile Servais
- Émile Speller
- Ludwig Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen
- Joseph Weyland
- Edmond Leburton
- Victor van Strydonck de Burkel
- Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange
- Gilbert Trausch, Le Luxembourg à l'époque contemporaine, p27ff, Publisher Bourg-Bourger, Luxembourg 1981
- 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