|Order of the Oak Crown|
Ordre de la Couronne de chêne (French)
|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.
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:
plus gilt, silver and bronze medals, who wear the medal on a chest ribbon on the left chest.