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An early design of the collar of the Order of St. Olav
The Order of St. Olav ribbon

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 for 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 father 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.

Olof Mellberg awards the order upon the recommendation of a six-member commission, consisting of a chancellor, vice chancellor, the court treasurer, and one representative from the southern, central, and northern parts of Norway. The prime minister nominates the members of the commission, and the monarch approves them. Nominations for the award are directed at the commission through the county mayor.

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 - 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 - wears the badge on a necklet, plus the star on the left chest;
  • Commander - wears the badge on a necklet;
  • Knight, First Class - wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;
  • Knight - wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest.

Recipients are expected to return the insignia upon advancement to a higher level of the order, or upon their death. Since it was instituted, the order has been awarded approximately 5,000 times. The insignia are produced in Norway by craftsmen.

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



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 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 Lady Chamberlain 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 90 holders of the Grand Cross, 21 of which 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. 6 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 3 January 2009.
Country Name Title, Position Grand Cross
with Collar
Grand Cross Year of appointment
 Austria Heinz Fischer President Check markY 2007
 Belgium Albert II King Check markY 1964
 Belgium Mathilde Crown Princess Check markY 2003
 Belgium Paola Queen Check markY 1997
 Belgium Philippe Crown Prince Check markY 2003
 Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva President Check markY 2003
 Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov President Check markY 2006
Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth II.svg Commonwealth realms Andrew Prince Check markY 1988
Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth II.svg Commonwealth realms Charles Crown Prince Check markY 1978
Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth II.svg Commonwealth realms Edward Prince Check markY 1988
Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth II.svg Commonwealth realms Elizabeth II Queen Check markY 1955
Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth II.svg Commonwealth realms Philip Prince Consort Check markY 1952
Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth II.svg Commonwealth realms Richard Prince Check markY 1973
 Denmark Benedikte Princess Check markY 1974
 Denmark Frederik Crown Prince Check markY 1990
 Denmark Henrik Prince Consort Check markY 1968
 Denmark Joachim Prince Check markY 1991
 Denmark Margrethe II Queen Check markY 1958
 Denmark Mary Crown Princess Check markY 2005
 Estonia Arnold Rüütel 3rd President Check markY 2002
 Finland Martti Ahtisaari 10th President Check markY 1994
 Finland Mauno Koivisto 9th President Check markY 1983
 Finland Tarja Halonen 11th President Check markY 2000
 France Jacques Chirac former President Check markY 2000
 France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing former President (when Minister of Finance) Check markY 1962
 Germany Roman Herzog former President Check markY 1998
 Germany Horst Köhler President Check markY 2007
 Germany Marianne von Weizsäcker former first lady Check markY 1986
 Germany Richard von Weizsäcker former President Check markY 1986
Hellenic Kingdom Flag 1935.svg
Constantine II former King Check markY Check markY 1964, 1962
 Greece Constantinos Stephanopoulos 6th President Check markY 2004
 Hungary Árpád Göncz former President Check markY 1999
 Hungary Ferenc Mádl former President Check markY 2002
 Iran Farah Pahlavi former Empress Check markY 1965
 Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson President Check markY 1998
 Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir 4th President Check markY 1982
 Italy Carlo Azeglio Ciampi former President Check markY 2001
 Japan Akihito Emperor Check markY Check markY 2001, 1953
 Japan Masako Crown Princess Check markY 2001
 Japan Michiko Empress Check markY 2001
 Japan Naruhito Crown Prince Check markY 2001
 Japan Tomohito of Mikasa Princess Check markY 2001
 Jordan Abdullah II King Check markY 2000
 Jordan Hassan Prince (former Crown Prince) Check markY ?
 Jordan Rania Queen Check markY 2000
 Latvia Guntis Ulmanis former President Check markY 1998
 Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga former President Check markY 2000
 Lithuania Valdas Adamkus President Check markY 1998
 Luxembourg Henri Grand Duke Check markY 1996
 Luxembourg Jean Grand Duke Check markY 1964
 Luxembourg Maria Teresa Grand Duchess Check markY 1964
 Netherlands Beatrix Queen Check markY 1964
 Netherlands Margriet Princess Check markY 1964
 Netherlands Willem-Alexander Crown Prince Check markY 1996
 Norway Astrid Princess Check markY 1956
 Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik former Prime Minister Check markY 2004
 Norway Lars Petter Forberg Master of the Royal Household Check markY 2004
 Norway Haakon Crown Prince Check markY 1991
 Norway Magne Hagen former secretary to the King Check markY 2000
 Norway Harald V King Check markY Grand Master 1955, 1991
 Norway Kaare Langlete former Master of the Royal Household Check markY 1993
 Norway Jørgen Hårek Kosmo former President of the Norwegian Parliament Check markY 2005
 Norway Märtha Louise Princess Check markY 1989
 Norway Mette-Marit Crown Princess Check markY 2001
 Norway Ragnhild Princess Check markY 1982
 Norway Carsten Smith former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway Check markY 2003
 Norway Sonja Queen Check markY 1972
 Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski former President Check markY 1996
 Poland Lech Wałęsa former President Check markY 1995
 Portugal António Ramalho Eanes 17th President Check markY 1978
 Portugal Jorge Sampaio former president Check markY 2004
 Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva current president Check markY 2008
 Romania Emil Constantinescu former President Check markY 1999
 South Africa Nelson Mandela former President Check markY 1998
 Spain Cristina Princess Check markY 1995
 Spain Elena Princess Check markY 1995
 Spain Felipe Crown Prince Check markY 1995
 Spain Juan Carlos I King Check markY 1982
 Spain Sofía Queen Check markY 1982
 Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf King Check markY 1974
 Sweden Carl Philip Prince Check markY 2005
 Sweden Christina Princess Check markY 1992
 Sweden Désirée Princess Check markY 1992
 Sweden Lilian Princess Check markY 1992
 Sweden Madeleine Princess Check markY 2005
 Sweden Silvia Queen Check markY 1982
 Sweden Victoria Crown Princess Check markY 1995
 Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej King Check markY 1960
 Thailand Sirikit Queen Check markY 1965


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