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Order of St. Olaf

Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav
Kongelige Norske St. Olavs Orden
Cross of the Order of St. Olav
Awarded by King of Norway
Type Chivalric order with five degrees
Motto RET OG SANDHED (Justice and Truth)
Awarded for remarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity
Status Currently constituted
Grand Master King Harald V
Grades (w/ post-nominals) Grand Cross
Commander with Star
Knight 1st class
Established August 21, 1847
Next (higher) None (formerly the Order of the Norwegian Lion)
Next (lower) Royal Norwegian Order of Merit
Riband of the Order of St. Olav

The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav (Norwegian: Den Kongelige Norske St. Olavs Orden; or Sanct Olafs Orden, the old Norwegian name) is a Norwegian order of chivalry that was instituted by King Oscar I of Norway and Sweden on August 21, 1847, as a distinctly Norwegian order. It is named after King Olav II, known to posterity as St. Olav. Nobility was abolished in Norway in 1821. Just before the union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, the Order of the Norwegian Lion was instituted in 1904 by King Oscar II, but it was not awarded by his successor Haakon VII. The Order of St. Olav thus became the kingdom's only order of chivalry for the next 80 years. The Grand Master of the order is the reigning monarch of Norway. It is awarded to individuals as a reward for remarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity. Since 1985, the order has only been conferred upon Norwegian citizens, though foreign heads of state and royals are awarded the order as a matter of courtesy.

The King awards the order upon the recommendation of a six-member commission, consisting of a chancellor, vice chancellor, the Lord Chamberlain (acting as treasurer), and three other representatives. The Lord Chamberlain nominates the members of the commission, and the monarch approves them. Nominations for the award are directed at the commission through the county governor.

The order is divided into five classes and may be awarded for either civilian or military contributions, the Collar is awarded as a separate distinction of the Grand Cross to those recipients deemed exceptionally worthy, in descending order of distinction:

  • Grand Cross of St. Olav (Storkors)  – awarded to heads of state as a courtesy and in rare cases to individuals for merit; wears the badge on a collar (chain), plus the star on the left chest. If the collar is not worn the badge may be worn on a sash on the right shoulder;
  • Commander with Star (Kommandør med stjerne)  – wears the badge on a necklet, plus the star on the left chest;
  • Commander (Kommandør)  – wears the badge on a necklet;
  • Knight, First Class (Ridder av 1. klasse)  – wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;
  • Knight (Ridder)  – wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest.

The insignia are expected to be returned either upon the receiver's advancement to a higher level of the order or upon his or her death. Since it was instituted, the order has been awarded approximately 19,500 times. The insignia are produced in Norway by craftsmen.

The Norwegian king also awards the St. Olav's Medal (St. Olavsmedaljen) in gold and silver for "activities for the benefit of society," but these do not confer upon the recipient membership in an order.

Ribbon bars

Grand Cross with Collar

Grand Cross

Commander with star


Knight 1st Class



The collar of the Order is in gold, with five enamelled and crowned monograms "O" (for "Oscar", the royal cipher of Oscar I, the Order's founder), five enamelled and crowned coat-of-arms of Norway, and 10 gold crosses bottony each flanked by two battle axes with silver blades and golden shafts (The latter element is also featured in the coat of arms of the Church of Norway).

The badge of the Order is a white enamelled Maltese Cross, in silver for the knight class and in gilt of the higher classes; crowned monograms "O" (for "Oscar") appear between the arms of the cross. The obverse central disc is red with the golden Norwegian lion rampart bearing a battle axe; the reverse disc bears the King Olav's motto «Ret og Sandhed»  – "Justice and Truth" in Norwegian; both discs are surrounded by a white-blue-white ring. The cross is topped by a crown; military awards have crossed swords between the crown and the cross.

The star of the Order for the Grand Cross is an eight-pointed silver star with faceted rays, bearing the obverse of the badge of the Order (minus the crown on the top).

The star for Commander with Star is a silver faceted Maltese Cross, with gilt crowned monograms "O" (for "Oscar") between the arms of the cross. The central disc is red with the golden Norwegian lion rampart bearing a battle axe, surrounded by a white-blue-white ring.[1]

The ribbon of the Order is red with white-blue-white edge stripes.

In very exceptional circumstances the Order may awarded 'with diamonds', in which case a ring of diamonds replace the white-blue-white enamel ring surrounding the central disc on the front of the badge.


In the Order of precedence used at the royal court of Norway, bearers of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav with collar are ranked 15 in the Order of precedence directly after the Mistress of the Robes and generals and directly before recipients of the War Cross with sword. Bearers of the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav are ranked 16.

The medal is ranked third in the general ranking of Norwegian orders and medals for use when wearing more than one medal.

Current holders of the Grand Cross

This list contains 91 holders of the Grand Cross, 21 of whom have also been awarded the Collar and gives the year of their appointment. The list is collated alphabetically by last name; those recipients not possessing a last name, such as royalty and most Icelanders are collated by first name. Six of the listed are not heads of states or royals; these are marked by names in bold. Before the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit was created in 1985, the Order of St Olav was awarded to members of a foreign delegation during state visits. Many holders of the Grand Cross who are not heads of state are not listed here.

This list was last updated on 27 January 2013.

Country Name Title, Position Grand Cross
with Collar
Grand Cross Year of appointment
 Austria Heinz Fischer President YesY 2007
 Belgium Albert II Former King YesY 1964
 Belgium Mathilde Queen YesY 2003
 Belgium Paola Former Queen YesY 1997
 Belgium Philippe King YesY 2003
 Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Former President YesY 2003
 Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov Former President YesY 2006
 United Kingdom Andrew Prince YesY 1988
 United Kingdom Charles Prince of Wales YesY 1978
 United Kingdom Edward Prince YesY 1988
Commonwealth realms Elizabeth II Queen YesY 1955
Commonwealth realms Philip Prince Consort YesY 1952
 United Kingdom Richard Prince YesY 1973
 Croatia Ivo Josipović President YesY 2011
 Denmark Benedikte Princess YesY 1974
 Denmark Frederik Crown Prince YesY 1990
 Denmark Henrik Prince Consort YesY 1968
 Denmark Joachim Prince YesY 1991
 Denmark Margrethe II Queen YesY 1958
 Denmark Mary Crown Princess YesY 2005
 Estonia Arnold Rüütel Former President YesY 2002
 Finland Martti Ahtisaari Former President YesY 1994
 Finland Mauno Koivisto Former President YesY 1983
 Finland Sauli Niinistö President YesY 2012
 Finland Tarja Halonen Former President YesY 2000
 France Jacques Chirac Former President YesY 2000
 France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Former President YesY 1962
 Germany Roman Herzog Former President YesY 1998
 Germany Horst Köhler Former President YesY 2007
 Germany Marianne von Weizsäcker Former first lady YesY 1986
 Germany Richard von Weizsäcker Former President YesY 1986
Constantine II Former King YesY YesY 1964, 1962
 Greece Constantinos Stephanopoulos Former President YesY 2004
 Hungary Árpád Göncz Former President YesY 1999
 Iran Farah Pahlavi Former Empress YesY 1965
 Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson President YesY 1998
 Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Former President YesY 1982
 Italy Carlo Azeglio Ciampi Former President YesY 2001
 Japan Akihito Emperor YesY YesY 2001, 1953
 Japan Masako Crown Princess YesY 2001
 Japan Michiko Empress YesY 2001
 Japan Naruhito Crown Prince YesY 2001
 Japan Tomohito of Mikasa Princess YesY 2001
 Jordan Abdullah II King YesY 2000
 Jordan Hassan Prince YesY ?
 Jordan Rania Queen YesY 2000
 Latvia Guntis Ulmanis Former President YesY 1998
 Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga Former President YesY 2000
 Lithuania Valdas Adamkus Former President YesY 1998
 Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė President YesY 2011
 Luxembourg Henri Grand Duke YesY 2011
 Luxembourg Jean Former Grand Duke YesY 1964
 Luxembourg Maria Teresa Grand Duchess YesY 1996
 Netherlands Beatrix Princess YesY 1964
 Netherlands Margriet Princess YesY 1964
 Netherlands Willem-Alexander King YesY 1996
 Netherlands Máxima Queen YesY 2013
 Norway Astrid Princess YesY 1956
 Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik Former Prime Minister YesY 2004
 Norway Lars Petter Forberg Master of the Royal Household YesY 2004
 Norway Haakon Crown Prince YesY 1991
 Norway Magne Hagen Former secretary to the King YesY 2000
 Norway Harald V King YesY
Grand Master
1955, 1991
 Norway Jørgen Hårek Kosmo Former President of the Norwegian Parliament YesY 2005
 Norway Märtha Louise Princess YesY 1989
 Norway Mette-Marit Crown Princess YesY 2001
 Norway Carsten Smith Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway YesY 2003
 Norway Sonja Queen YesY 1972
 Norway Berit Tversland Cabinet Secretary of the Royal Secretariat YesY 2012
 Poland Bronislaw Komorowski President YesY 2012
 Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski Former President YesY 1996
 Poland Lech Wałęsa Former President YesY 1995
 Portugal António Ramalho Eanes Former President YesY 1978
 Portugal Jorge Sampaio Former President YesY 2004
 Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva President YesY 2008
 Romania Emil Constantinescu Former President YesY 1999
 Slovakia Ivan Gašparovič President YesY 2010
 Slovenia Danilo Türk Former President YesY 2011
 South Africa Nelson Mandela Former President YesY 1998
 Spain Cristina Princess YesY 1995
 Spain Elena Princess YesY 1995
 Spain Felipe Crown Prince YesY 1995
 Spain Juan Carlos I King YesY 1982
 Spain Sofía Queen YesY 1982
 Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf King YesY 1974
 Sweden Carl Philip Prince YesY 2005
 Sweden Christina Princess YesY 1992
 Sweden Désirée Princess YesY 1992
 Sweden Madeleine Princess YesY 2005
 Sweden Silvia Queen YesY 1982
 Sweden Victoria Crown Princess YesY 1995
 Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej King YesY 1960
 Thailand Sirikit Queen YesY 1965

See also


External links

  • Official website on the order
  • The Collection of Henrik Revens Website features orders and medals of Norway as well as other Nordic countries.
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