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Order of St. Olav

Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav
Kongelige Norske Sankt 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 with Collar
Grand Cross
Grand Commander
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
An early design of the collar of the Order of St. Olav
The Star of The Order of Saint Olav

The Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav (Norwegian: Den Kongelige Norske Sankt 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 Royalty 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.


  • Classes 1
  • Insignia 2
  • Ranking 3
  • Current holders of the Grand Cross 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


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

  • 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.


The Order of St. Olav is the highest civilian decoration currently awarded by Norway, and only ranks after the military War Cross among all Norwegian decorations still awarded in the general ranking.

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 15th 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 16th.

Current holders of the Grand Cross

This list contains holders of the Grand Cross, some 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 20 March 2015.
Country Name Title, Position Grand Cross
with Collar
Grand Cross Year of appointment
 Austria Heinz Fischer President Y 2007
 Belgium Albert II Former King Y 1964
 Belgium Mathilde Queen Y 2003
 Belgium Paola Former Queen Y 1997
 Belgium Philippe King Y 2003
 Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Former President Y 2003
 Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov Former President Y 2006
 Croatia Ivo Josipović President Y 2011
 Denmark Benedikte Princess Y 1974
 Denmark Frederik Crown Prince Y 1990
 Denmark Henrik Prince Consort Y 1968
 Denmark Joachim Prince Y 1991
 Denmark Margrethe II Queen Y 1958
 Denmark Marie Princess Y 2014
 Denmark Mary Crown Princess Y 2005
 Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves President Y 2014
 Estonia Arnold Rüütel Former President Y 2002
 Finland Martti Ahtisaari Former President Y 1994
 Finland Mauno Koivisto Former President Y 1983
 Finland Tellervo Koivisto Former President's wife Y 1983
 Finland Sauli Niinistö President Y 2012
 Finland Tarja Halonen Former President Y 2000
 France Jacques Chirac Former President Y 2000
 France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Former President (when Minister of Finance) Y 1962
 Germany Joachim Gauck President Y 2014
 Germany Roman Herzog Former President Y 1998
 Germany Horst Köhler Former President Y 2007
 Germany Marianne von Weizsäcker Former first lady Y 1986
Constantine II Former King Y Y 1964, 1962
 Greece Constantinos Stephanopoulos Former President Y 2004
 Hungary Árpád Göncz Former President Y 1999
 Iran Farah Pahlavi Former Empress Y 1965
 Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson President Y 1998
 Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Former President Y 1982
 Italy Carlo Azeglio Ciampi Former President Y 2001
 Japan Akihito Emperor Y Y 2001, 1953
 Japan Masako Crown Princess Y 2001
 Japan Michiko Empress Y 2001
 Japan Naruhito Crown Prince Y 2001
 Japan Tomohito of Mikasa Princess Y 2001
 Jordan Abdullah II King Y 2000
 Jordan Hassan Prince (when Crown Prince) Y ?
 Jordan Rania Queen Y 2000
 Latvia Guntis Ulmanis Former President Y 1998
 Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga Former President Y 2000
 Latvia Andris Bērziņš President Y 2015
 Lithuania Valdas Adamkus Former President Y 1998
 Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė President Y 2011
 Luxembourg Henri Grand Duke Y 2011
 Luxembourg Jean Former Grand Duke Y 1964
 Luxembourg Maria Teresa Grand Duchess Y 1996
 Netherlands Beatrix Princess Y 1964
 Netherlands Margriet Princess Y 1964
 Netherlands Willem-Alexander King Y 1996
 Netherlands Máxima Queen Y 2013
 Norway Astrid Princess Y 1956
 Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik Former Prime Minister Y 2004
 Norway Lars Petter Forberg Former Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household Y 2004
 Norway Åge Bernhard Grutle Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household Y 2015
 Norway Haakon Crown Prince Y 1991
 Norway Magne Hagen Former Cabinet Secretary to the King Y 2000
 Norway Harald V King Y
Grand Master
1955, 1991
 Norway Jørgen Hårek Kosmo Former President of the Norwegian Parliament Y 2005
 Norway Märtha Louise Princess Y 1989
 Norway Mette-Marit Crown Princess Y 2001
 Norway Carsten Smith Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway Y 2003
 Norway Sonja Queen Y 1972
 Norway Berit Tversland Cabinet Secretary to the King Y 2012
 Poland Bronislaw Komorowski President Y 2012
 Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski Former President Y 1996
 Poland Lech Wałęsa Former President Y 1995
 Portugal António Ramalho Eanes Former President Y 1978
 Portugal Jorge Sampaio Former President Y 2004
 Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva President Y 2008
 Romania Emil Constantinescu Former President Y 1999
 Slovakia Ivan Gašparovič President Y 2010
 Slovenia Danilo Türk Former President Y 2011
 Spain Cristina Princess Y 1995
 Spain Elena Princess Y 1995
 Spain Felipe King Y 1995
 Spain Juan Carlos I Former King Y 1982
 Spain Sofía Former Queen Y 1982
 Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf King Y 1974
 Sweden Carl Philip Prince Y 2005
 Sweden Christina Princess Y 1992
 Sweden Désirée Princess Y 1992
 Sweden Madeleine Princess Y 2005
 Sweden Silvia Queen Y 1982
 Sweden Victoria Crown Princess Y 1995
 Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej King Y 1960
 Thailand Sirikit Queen Y 1965
 Turkey Abdullah Gül President Y 2013
 United Kingdom Elizabeth II Queen Y 1955
 United Kingdom Philip Prince consort and Duke of Edinburgh Y 1952
 United Kingdom Andrew Prince and Duke of York Y 1988
 United Kingdom Charles Prince of Wales Y 1978
 United Kingdom Edward Prince and Duke of Kent Y 1988
 United Kingdom Richard Prince and Duke of Gloucester Y 1973

See also


  1. ^ "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". Retrieved 21 September 2014. 

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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