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
Design of the collar of the Order of St. Olav since 1906.
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.


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.

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.

Ribbon bars

Grand Cross with Collar

Grand Cross

Commander with star


Knight 1st Class


The Norwegian king also awards the St. Olav's Medal (St. Olavsmedaljen) in silver "for services in advancing knowledge of Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their descendants and their country of residence".[1] The medal does not confer upon the recipient membership in an order.

Ribbon bars

Medal with Oak Leaf Branch



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.[2]

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 is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

This list was last updated on 20 March 2015.

Country Name Title, Position Grand Cross
with Collar
Grand Cross Year of appointment
 Austria Heinz FischerPresident Yes 2007
 Belgium Albert IIFormer KingYes 1964
 Belgium MathildeQueen Yes 2003
 Belgium PaolaFormer Queen Yes 1997
 Belgium PhilippeKing Yes 2003
 Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da SilvaFormer President Yes 2003
 Bulgaria Georgi ParvanovFormer President Yes 2006
 Croatia Ivo Josipović Former president Yes 2011
 Denmark BenediktePrincess Yes 1974
 Denmark FrederikCrown Prince Yes 1990
 Denmark HenrikPrince Consort Yes 1968
 Denmark JoachimPrince Yes 1991
 Denmark Margrethe IIQueenYes 1958
 Denmark Marie Princess Yes 2014
 Denmark MaryCrown Princess Yes 2005
 Estonia Toomas Hendrik IlvesPresident Yes2014
 Estonia Arnold RüütelFormer President Yes 2002
 Finland Martti AhtisaariFormer President Yes 1994
 Finland Mauno KoivistoFormer PresidentYes 1983
 Finland Tellervo KoivistoFormer President's wife Yes 1983
 Finland Sauli NiinistöPresident Yes 2012
 Finland Tarja HalonenFormer President Yes 2000
 France Jacques ChiracFormer President Yes 2000
 France Valéry Giscard d'EstaingFormer President (when Minister of Finance) Yes 1962
 Germany Joachim GauckPresident Yes 2014
 Germany Roman HerzogFormer President Yes 1998
 Germany Horst KöhlerFormer President Yes 2007
 Germany Marianne von WeizsäckerFormer first lady Yes 1986
Constantine IIFormer KingYes Yes 1964, 1962
 Greece Constantinos StephanopoulosFormer President Yes 2004
 Iran Farah PahlaviFormer Empress Yes 1965
 Iceland Ólafur Ragnar GrímssonPresident Yes 1998
 Iceland Vigdís FinnbogadóttirFormer PresidentYes 1982
 Italy Sergio MattarellaPresident Yes 2016
 Italy Carlo Azeglio CiampiFormer President Yes 2001
 Japan AkihitoEmperorYes Yes 2001, 1953
 Japan MasakoCrown Princess Yes 2001
 Japan MichikoEmpress Yes 2001
 Japan NaruhitoCrown Prince Yes 2001
 Japan Tomohito of MikasaPrincess Yes 2001
 Jordan Abdullah IIKing Yes 2000
 Jordan HassanPrince (when Crown Prince) Yes ?
 Jordan RaniaQueen Yes 2000
 Latvia Guntis UlmanisFormer President Yes 1998
 Latvia Vaira Vīķe-FreibergaFormer President Yes 2000
 Latvia Andris BērziņšPresident Yes 2015
 Lithuania Valdas AdamkusFormer President Yes 1998
 Lithuania Dalia GrybauskaitėPresident Yes 2011
 Luxembourg HenriGrand DukeYes 2011
 Luxembourg JeanFormer Grand DukeYes 1964
 Luxembourg Maria TeresaGrand Duchess Yes 1996
 Netherlands BeatrixFormer Queen (when Princess)Yes 1964
 Netherlands MargrietPrincess Yes 1964
 Netherlands Willem-AlexanderKing Yes 1996
 Netherlands MáximaQueen Yes 2013
 Norway AstridPrincessYes 1956
 Norway Kjell Magne BondevikFormer Prime Minister Yes 2004
 Norway Lars Petter ForbergFormer Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household Yes 2004
 Norway Åge Bernhard GrutleLord Chamberlain of the Royal Household Yes 2015
 Norway HaakonCrown PrinceYes 1991
 Norway Magne HagenFormer Cabinet Secretary to the King Yes 2000
 Norway Harald VKingYes
Grand Master
1955, 1991
 Norway Jørgen Hårek KosmoFormer President of the Norwegian Parliament Yes 2005
 Norway Märtha LouisePrincessYes 1989
 Norway Mette-MaritCrown Princess Yes 2001
 Norway Arne OmholtMarshal of the Court Yes 2016
 Norway Carsten SmithFormer Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway Yes 2003
 Norway SonjaQueenYes 1972
 Norway Berit TverslandCabinet Secretary to the King Yes 2012
 Poland Andrzej DudaPresident Yes 2016
 Poland Bronislaw KomorowskiFormer President Yes 2012
 Poland Aleksander KwaśniewskiFormer President Yes 1996
 Poland Lech WałęsaFormer President Yes 1995
 Portugal António Ramalho EanesFormer PresidentYes 1978
 Portugal Jorge SampaioFormer President Yes 2004
 Portugal Aníbal Cavaco SilvaPresident Yes 2008
 Romania Emil ConstantinescuFormer President Yes 1999
 Slovakia Ivan GašparovičPresident Yes 2010
 Slovenia Danilo TürkFormer President Yes 2011
 Spain CristinaPrincess Yes 1995
 Spain ElenaPrincess Yes 1995
 Spain FelipeKing Yes 1995
 Spain Juan Carlos IFormer KingYes 1982
 Spain SofíaFormer Queen Yes 1982
 Sweden Carl XVI GustafKingYes 1974
 Sweden Carl PhilipPrince Yes 2005
 Sweden ChristinaPrincess Yes 1992
 Sweden DésiréePrincess Yes 1992
 Sweden MadeleinePrincess Yes 2005
 Sweden SilviaQueen Yes 1982
 Sweden VictoriaCrown Princess Yes 1995
 Thailand SirikitFormer Queen Yes 1965
 Turkey Abdullah Gül Former president Yes 2013
 United Kingdom Elizabeth IIQueenYes 1955
 United Kingdom PhilipPrince consort and Duke of EdinburghYes 1952
 United Kingdom AndrewPrince and Duke of York Yes 1988
 United Kingdom CharlesPrince of WalesYes 1978
 United Kingdom EdwardPrince and Duke of Kent Yes 1988
 United Kingdom RichardPrince and Duke of Gloucester Yes 1973

See also


  1. "The Medal of St. Olav", The Royal House of Norway. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  2. "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
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