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The historic royal order which just got a brand new member

King Harald’s gift to Prince Sverre Magnus on his 18th birthday was the designation as a Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav.

The prince, the only grandson of King Harald and Queen Sonja, received the gift just days before he comes of age. And it’s a very special order.

Founded by King Oscar I in 1847, though he reigned as the Sovereign of both Norway and Sweden, the Order of St. Olav was distinctly a Norwegian chivalric order. When the union dissolved in 1905, another order—the Order of the Norwegian Lion—was created but rarely used and was ultimately repealed in 1952.

The Order is named after King Olaf II of Norway, who reigned between 1015-1028 and is known to history as a saint and a man who helped bring Christianity to his country. He is now the patron saint of Norway, having been canonised shortly after his 1030 death.

There are five classes to the Order of St. Olav, with Prince Sverre Magnus now a member of the top class. The five are Grand Cross, Commander with Star, Commander, Knight 1st Class, and Knight.

The prince’s designation means that he will wear his badge on a collar and a star on his left chest; if the collar is not required, he will wear the badge on a sash over his right shoulder.

The Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav is typically only given to heads of state and royalty, both Norwegian and foreign; otherwise, the Order is given to Norwegian citizens.

According to the Norwegian Royal Court, the Order’s symbol is a Maltese cross covered in white-enamelled gold. The centre of the Maltese cross features a red globe surrounded by a ring of blue and white, with a lion in the centre of the gold with Norway’s coat of arms. On the back of the globe, King Oscar II’s motto, “Ret og Sandhed” (English: “Right and Truth”) is featured. A Gothic-stylised ‘O’ with a gold crown features between the cross arms on the globe; for Commanders and Knights, there is also a gold crown above this cross.

Insignia is worn on a red sash with blue and white edges.

King Harald is the Sovereign of the Order of St. Olav and appoints members yearly on the advice of a six-person committee. Aside from Norwegian and foreign royals and other heads of state, Norwegian citizens must have made extraordinary contributions to life in Norway or globally to be appointed.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.