Order of St. 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 instituted by King Oscar I on 21 August 1847. It is named after King Olav II, known to posterity as St. Olav.

  • Order of Saint Olav
  • Sankt Olavs Orden
Cross of the Order of St. Olav
Awarded by

King of Norway
TypeChivalric order with five degrees
Established21 August 1847 (1847-08-21)
MottoRET OG SANDHED (Justice and Truth)
Criteriaremarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity
StatusCurrently constituted
Grand MasterKing Harald V
  • Grand Cross with Collar
  • Grand Cross
  • Commander with Star
  • Commander
  • Knight 1st Class
  • Knight
Next (higher)None (formerly the Order of the Norwegian Lion)
Next (lower)Order of Merit

Riband of the Order of St. Olav

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 no appointments were awarded by his successor, King 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 used to reward individuals for remarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity. Since 1985, appointments to the order has only been conferred upon Norwegian citizens, though foreign heads of state and royalty may be appointed as a matter of courtesy.

Grades and classes

The reigning monarch of Norway is the order's Grand Master.[1] The order consists of three grades, of which two are divided into two 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.

  • Grand Cross (Storkors)   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, which is divided into two classes:
    • Commander with Star (Kommandør med stjerne)   wears the badge on a necklet, plus the star on the left chest;
    • Commander (Kommandør)   wears the badge on a necklet;
  • Knight, which is divided into two classes:
    • Knight 1st Class (Ridder av 1. klasse)   wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;
    • Knight (Ridder)   wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest.
Ribbon bars

Grand Cross with Collar

Grand Cross

Commander with Star


Knight 1st Class



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 Oscar'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 be awarded "with diamonds", in which case a ring of diamonds replaces the white-blue-white enamel ring surrounding the central disc on the front of the badge.

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. The insignia are produced in Norway by craftsmen.

Eligibility and appointment

The King makes appointments upon the recommendation of a six-member commission, none of whom may be a member of the government, 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.[3] Nominations to the order are directed at the commission through the county governor.

Princes and Princesses with succession rights to the throne are appointed to the highest degree upon reaching their age of majority.[4]


The Order of St. Olav is the highest civilian honour currently conferred 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 the last name; those recipients not possessing the last name, such as royalty and most Icelanders are collated by the 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, appointments to 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.

Country Name Charge Grand Cross
with Collar
Grand Cross Year
 ArgentinaMauricio MacriFormer PresidentY2018
 AustriaHeinz FischerFormer PresidentY2007
 BelgiumAlbert IIFormer KingY1964
 BelgiumPaolaFormer QueenY1997
 BrazilLuiz Inácio Lula da SilvaFormer PresidentY2003
 BulgariaGeorgi ParvanovFormer PresidentY2006
 ChileSebastián PiñeraPresidentY2019
 CroatiaIvo JosipovićFormer presidentY2011
 DenmarkFrederikCrown PrinceY1990
 DenmarkMargrethe IIQueenY1958
 DenmarkMaryCrown PrincessY2005
 EstoniaToomas Hendrik IlvesFormer PresidentY2014
 EstoniaArnold RüütelFormer PresidentY2002
 FinlandMartti AhtisaariFormer PresidentY1994
 FinlandTellervo KoivistoFormer President's wifeY1983
 FinlandSauli NiinistöPresidentY2012
 FinlandTarja HalonenFormer PresidentY2000
 FranceValéry Giscard d'EstaingFormer President (when Minister of Finance)Y1962
 GermanyJoachim GauckFormer PresidentY2014
 GermanyHorst KöhlerFormer PresidentY2007
 GermanyMarianne von WeizsäckerFormer first ladyY1986
GreeceConstantine IIFormer KingYY1964, 1962
 IranFarah PahlaviFormer EmpressY1965
 IcelandGuðni Th. JóhannessonPresidentY2017
 IcelandÓlafur Ragnar GrímssonFormer PresidentY1998
 IcelandVigdís FinnbogadóttirFormer PresidentY1982
 ItalySergio MattarellaPresidentY2016
 JapanAkihitoEmperor EmeritusYY2001, 1953
 JapanMasakoEmpress (when Crown Princess)Y2001
 JapanMichikoEmpress EmeritaY2001
 JapanNaruhitoEmperor (when Crown Prince)Y2001
 JordanAbdullah IIKingY2000
 JordanHassanPrince (when Crown Prince)Y?
 LatviaGuntis UlmanisFormer PresidentY1998
 LatviaVaira Vīķe-FreibergaFormer PresidentY2000
 LatviaAndris BērziņšFormer PresidentY2015
 LithuaniaValdas AdamkusFormer PresidentY1998
 LithuaniaDalia GrybauskaitėFormer PresidentY2011
 LuxembourgHenriGrand DukeY2011
 LuxembourgMaria TeresaGrand DuchessY1996
 NetherlandsBeatrixFormer Queen (when Princess)Y1964
 NorwayKjell Magne BondevikFormer Prime MinisterY2004
 NorwayLars Petter ForbergFormer Lord Chamberlain of the Royal HouseholdY2004
 NorwayÅge Bernhard GrutleFormer Lord Chamberlain of the Royal HouseholdY2015
 NorwayHaakonCrown PrinceY1991
 NorwayMagne HagenFormer Cabinet Secretary to the KingY2000
 NorwayHarald VKingY
Grand Master
1955, 1991
 NorwayMärtha LouisePrincessY1989
 NorwayMette-MaritCrown PrincessYY2001, 2016
 NorwayEdvard MoserProfessor, psychologist and neuroscientist, Nobel laureatY2018
 NorwayMay-Britt MoserProfessor, psychologist and neuroscientist, Nobel laureatY2018
 NorwayArne OmholtFormer Marshal of the CourtY2016
 NorwayCarsten SmithFormer Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NorwayY2003
 NorwayBerit TverslandFormer Cabinet Secretary to the KingY2012
 PolandAndrzej DudaPresidentY2016
 PolandBronislaw KomorowskiFormer PresidentY2012
 PolandAleksander KwaśniewskiFormer PresidentY1996
 PolandLech WałęsaFormer PresidentY1995
 PortugalAntónio Ramalho EanesFormer PresidentY1978
 PortugalJorge SampaioFormer PresidentY2004
 PortugalAníbal Cavaco SilvaFormer PresidentY2008
 RomaniaEmil ConstantinescuFormer PresidentY1999
 South KoreaMoon Jae-inPresidentY2019
 SlovakiaAndrej KiskaFormer PresidentY2018
 SlovakiaIvan GašparovičFormer PresidentY2010
 SloveniaBorut PahorPresidentY2019
 SloveniaDanilo TürkFormer PresidentY2011
 SpainJuan Carlos IFormer KingY1982
 SpainSofíaFormer QueenY1982
 SwedenCarl XVI GustafKingY1974
 SwedenCarl PhilipPrinceY2005
 SwedenVictoriaCrown PrincessY1995
 ThailandSirikitFormer QueenY1965
 TurkeyAbdullah GülFormer presidentY2013
 United KingdomElizabeth IIQueenY1955
 United KingdomPhilipPrince consort and Duke of EdinburghY1952
 United KingdomAndrewPrince and Duke of YorkY1988
 United KingdomCharlesPrince of WalesY1978
 United KingdomEdwardPrince and Duke of KentY1988
 United KingdomRichardPrince and Duke of GloucesterY1973

See also


  1. Statutes, §2
  2. "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  3. section 5, Statues of the Order of St. Olav
  4. section 3, Statues of the Order of St. Olav
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