The Royal Order of the Seraphim is the most important Swedish royal order and the highest award granted in Sweden. The order was founded in 1748 by His Majesty King Frederick I of Sweden. The order has only one class and is handed out personally by the Swedish monarch who today is His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf.
Until 1975, both Swedish and foreign citizens could be awarded the Royal Order of the Seraphim. However, after the reform of this year, this order can only be granted to foreign heads of state and their peers, as well as members of the Swedish Royal Family.
When the order originally was instituted, the knights of the order were required to supervise the major hospitals and mental asylums in Sweden, and in particular, the Seraphim Hospital, which was a major hospital in Stockholm until 1980. This requirement eventually died out in the 19th century. A Swedish Knight of the Order of the Seraphim is not referred to as a Knight of the Seraphim but rather as a “Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King.”
Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine of Sweden all became members of the order on their 18th birthday. Princess Estelle, Princess Leonore, Prince Nicolas, Prince Oscar and Prince Alexander were awarded the order the day they were baptised.
Each knight of the order has their coat of arms surrounded by the collar of the order painted on a copper plate. These plates are exhibited in the Royal Seraphim Room at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
Associated with the order is the Seraphim Medal, established in 1748, that is awarded to people who make significant contributions to Swedish charities. This medal consisted a gold coin-like representation of the bust of the order’s founder, King Frederick I, beneath a royal crown hanging by eight small chains from a suspension bar ornamented with a design of acanthus leaves.