Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip awarded Order of the Polar Star

The President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and his wife Maria yesterday began a state visit to Sweden and at the state banquet at the Royal Palace in Stockholm last night Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip wore what appears to be the neck-bagde of the Order of the Polar Star, which I am almost sure they have never worn before.
The royal website does not say anything about when they were awarded this second highest order, but what makes it all more peculiar is that the two princes wore it from the black riband that was exchanged for a blue one with yellow edges (like the Swedish flag) at the time of the order reform in 1975.
King Carl Gustaf habitually wears the Polar Star in its black riband when in civilian dress (and the now defunct Sword Order when in uniform), but this is because he was awarded the order before 1975. Christopher O’Neill, on the other hand, who was given the order on 6 June this year, two days before he married Princess Madeleine, wears it in the modern blue and yellow riband.
The only possible explanation I can think of for why the two princes have been given the old version must be that King Carl Gustaf has decided that members of the royal house (who are, since 1995, excluded from the rule which prohibits the award of Swedish orders to Swedish citizens) shall wear the old version. But if so, that is a new invention, given that the late Princess Lilian always wore the modern version of the grand cross from 1976 until she was given the higher Seraphim Order in 1995. (On the other hand, Princess Lilian received it just before the wedding when she was still a British subject).


  1. According to this blogger, an inquiry to the Chancery of the Royal Swedish Orders elicited the information that the king "i våras har beslutat att svenska prinsar bär Nordstjärneorden i svart band." (I'm unclear as to whether this indicates a decision in the spring of 2012 or 2013 and whether the alteration is literally confined to princes, excluding princesses.)

    1. Thanks for adding this. "I våras" means "last spring", i.e. 2013. I would expect that the Polar Star has been given not only to Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip, but also to Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine - I cannot see why Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip should be singled out. But it is also not clear what grade they have been given - as you can only wear one grand cross at the time, holders of multiple grand crosses wear a second order around the neck (as if they were commanders), but neither the princes nor the ladies wear a second grand cross star.

    2. Thank you; I appreciate the clarification.

      Apologies if I am misunderstanding your comment, as I know precious little about the protocol of wearing decorations, but does the wearing of the neck ribbon in lieu of a second grand cross star also apply to women?

    3. Women who are commanders of an order wear the cross in a sash on the left side of the chest (see for instance the actress Wenche Foss in this photo: rather than around the neck. However, it is rare for royal ladies to wear a commander cross in lieu of a second grand cross, but they will often wear two stars on the bodice of the dress.

      On a relate note I see that Prince Daniel wore only one star at the Portuguese state banquet, which may indicate that he has not received the Grand Cross of the Polar Star, but only the lower grade.

  2. I think the Grand Cross regulation pertains to the King: he is the Grand Master and can do as he pleases. It is not a general practise for "the rest of us": apart from the first grand cross which is worn sash+star, all other grand crosses are worn as miniatures with the star(s), up to 4 stars. The rest are worn as miniatures only.

    H M the King wears the Order of the Sword around his neck when in uniform, and the Polar Star when in white tie. The stars are - unless state visit - the Seraphim over the star of the Order of Vasa. The reason is long tradition, the Princes were not born in to that order as the others, but had to earn it. There is a famous picture of our King as baptised with his father, granddfather and great grandfather surrounding him: here, his father is not yet granted the Order of Vasa, that collar is "missing".

    It could be that the Princes mimic the King's practise, and that these Commander are in fact Grand Crosses. Because the stars of the Sword and Polar Star are generally not worn by the royal family it is hard to tell from sight.

    The Queen and Princess's generally only wear the sash and star of the Seraphim (unless state visit, when they wear that countries order). Princess Lilian, who got the Order of the Polar star as a foreigner in the 70'ies did not wear it once she got the Seraphim.

    1. Yes, it is up to the King, but it is surprising that any changes and appointments have not been announced.

      Well, King Carl Gustaf always wears the star of the Seraphim and another star depending on whether he is in military or civilian dress, but this means that if the two princes have been given the Grand Cross of the Polar Star they too ought to wear two stars, which in their case would be the Seraphim and the Polar Star (as they cannot be given the dormant Vasa or Sword orders). Yet they did not do so.

      For women it is unusual to wear more than one star except when foreign orders are also worn (for instance for state visits). Similarly, the Queen of Norway has never worn the star of the Order of Merit, which the King and Crown Prince always wear, and while the British princes wear multiple stars Queen Elizabeth only wears the Garter star. As women also do not normally wear second grand crosses in the way of commander crosses there is really no way to tell from their appearance if the Queen of Sweden and her daughters have also been awarded the Polar Star, but if the princes have received it I see no reason to believe that the ladies have not also received it, particularly given how men and women are now treated equally for instance when it comes to titles.


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