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Could one person receive 2 classes of LdH?


Great Dane
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Hello Gents,

While I was researching the decorations of the Danish King Frederik VII (reigned 1848-1863), I came across something interesting regarding the French Legion d'Honneur.

He was awarded the Grand Cross of the order on July 25th, 1828, but was also awarded the Officer cross of the same order years later (probably around 1858).

It is specifically listed in my books that he was awarded the GC and the Officer cross, so I don't think it's a typo...

Note that I'm not talking about being 'promoted' within the order - the GC came first.

So my questions are:

- Was this common practice (GC + Officer to the same person)?

- What was the criteria/reason for the 'add-on' award?

I know that something similar can be seen for the Greek Order of the Redeemer (GC followed by Knight cross to the same person), but I don't know the details for this practice either.

/Michael

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Hello Michael

I would be very suspicious about the information. Quite normally, a reigning king or a member of a royal family would get an honorary Grand Cross of the Legion d'honneur,

The additionnal information about an officer's badge being bestowed years later sounds VERY strange indeed. Old hands as we both are know that the most surprising things have existed.... but I have never heard of anything like this. Whatever the explaination could be, an officer's cross to a King just does not make sense.

King Frederik may have changed a royal badge (1828) for an imperial model (1858) if he came to Paris on an official visit in order to offend no one. But it would not be an officer's badge.

Kindly let us know if you ever get the last word of this tale.

Best regards

Paul

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Hi Paul,

Thanks for the input.

I was skeptical too, but then I got to look at some old pictures (not many photos exist from that era when photography was still young, so paintings are the next best thing).

Take a look at Frederik VII in the painting below - because he was a king, most of his decorations were Grand Crosses, and the only decorations he got to wear on his chest was:

- the Silver Merit Cross of the Order of Dannebrog (a special class that from the start was defined as both an independent (low) class of this order or an addition to those already decorated with the Dannebrog order)

- the Legion d'Honneur Officer class mentioned in my previous post

- later on in 1862 - the medal of the Swedish Order of the Sword.

I assume the painting is from approx. 1860, and it definitely seems like he is wearing the Officer class of the Legion d'Honneur, since the 3 decorations mentioned above are the only non-Grand Crosses he was awarded...

/Michael

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Michael

Very interesting picture. I understand why you were intrigued with the Legion of honor badge worn by the king on this portrait.

This is what I would make out of it :

This is an "undress" portrait of the king, shown wearing the three orders you mentioned. No breast stars are apparent.

My understanding is this : the king wished to wear the orders he felt important, but he was no to be bothered with the full regalia. An officer's badge of the Legion d'honneur could have been worn as a token relating to his Grand Cross of the order. After all, if he was a GC he could feel he was intitled to an lighter officer's badge. Worn here as a kind of "miniature".

Such a portrait could have been sent to the Danish Embassy in Paris for display in the Embassador's office?

How do you feel about this, ?

Paul

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Paul, I was ready to buy your explanation...

Frederik VII was known to like orders and medals (rumour has it that he on several occasions tried to get awarded the Danish medal for lifesaving by inventing various heroic deeds, but the requests were always turned down).

But then I found another photo. It's (one of) his miniatures and take a look at the left side - two versions of the Legion d'Honneur (one slightly bigger than the other).

For some strange reason they are showing the reverse, but that might be to not insult anybody as you mentioned.

/Michael

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Could it be that the explanation is the simple that kings (and other royalty) were exempt from normal rules and statutes and sometimes they just wanted something to fill the chest (preferably from favorite countries)?

I guess that is pretty much what you're hinting at, and it sounds plausible to me.

/Michael

Edited by Great Dane
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