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Grand Cross is the highest class in many orders, and manifested in its insignia. Exceptionally, the highest class may be referred to as Grand Cordon or equivalent. In other cases, the rank of Grand Cross may come after another even higher rank, e.g. Grand Collar. In rare cases, solely the actual insignia is referred to as the "grand cross".
In international relations, in many times the class of Grand Cross is typically reserved for royalty, heads of state and equivalent. Sometimes a holder of the highest class or grade are referred to as "Commander Grand Cross","Knight Grand Cross", or just "Grand Cross".
In the United Kingdom, the rank entails admission to knighthood, allowing the recipient to use the honorific "Sir" (male) or "Dame" (female) as a style before his or her name, while entitled "Knight Grand Cross" or "Dame Grand Cross". This stands in contrast to the typical practice in other countries where knighthood is conferred at the initial, lowest rank of the order, typically "Knight".
In Bavaria, the royal military order established by Maximilian Joseph consisted of three classes with the Grand Crosses ranking above the Commanders and Knights.The Grand Cross title has also been used to confer military merit. For instance, the Grand Duchy of Baden awarded Prince Rupprecht a Grand Cross after World War I.
From 1870 to 1918, the German Empire also set the Grand Cross as the highest rank of the Order of the Iron Cross, followed by the first and second classes.
The orders in which the highest rank (or second after "Collar") is named "Grand Cordons" include the following orders:
Illustration of typical insignia, as in the case of the Legion of Honour of France.
The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and retained by all later French governments and régimes.
Karl Heinrich Lübke was a German politician who was the second President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1959 to 1969.
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is a British order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later King George IV, while he was acting as regent for his father, King George III.
The Order of Leopold is one of the three current Belgian national honorary orders of knighthood. It is the oldest and highest order of Belgium and is named in honour of its founder; King Leopold I. It consists of a military, a maritime and a civil division. The maritime division is only awarded to personnel of the merchant navy, and the military division to military personnel. The decoration was established on 11 July 1832 and is awarded by Royal order.
The Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav 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.
A necklet is a type of decoration which is designed to be worn and displayed around a person's neck, rather than hung (draped) from the chest as is the standard practice for displaying most decorations.
Frederick I was the sovereign Grand Duke of Baden, reigning from 1856 to 1907.
A chivalric order, order of chivalry, order of knighthood or equestrian order is an order, confraternity or society of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Catholic military orders of the Crusades, paired with medieval concepts of ideals of chivalry.
The Order of Leopold II is an order of Belgium and is named in honor of King Leopold II. The decoration was established on 24 August 1900 by Leopold II as king of the Congo Free State and was in 1908, upon Congo being handed over to Belgium, incorporated into the Belgian awards system. The order is awarded for meritorious service to the sovereign of Belgium, and as a token of his personal goodwill. It can be awarded to both Belgians and foreigners, and is seen as diplomatic gift of merit.
Commander, or Knight Commander, is a title of honor prevalent in chivalric orders and fraternal orders.
Prince Frederick Charles Alexander of Prussia was a younger son of Frederick William III of Prussia. He served as a Prussian general for much of his adult life and became the first Herrenmeister of the Order of Saint John after its restoration as a chivalric order. Nevertheless, he is perhaps remembered more often for his patronage of art and for his sizable collections of art and armor.
A collar is an ornate chain, often made of gold and enamel, and set with precious stones, which is worn about the neck as a symbol of membership in various chivalric orders. It is a particular form of the livery collar, the grandest form of the widespread phenomenon of livery in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. Orders which have several grades often reserve the collar for the highest grade. The links of the chain are usually composed of symbols of the order, and the badge of the order normally hangs down in front. Sometimes the badge is referred to by what is depicted on it; for instance, the badge that hangs from the chain of the Order of the Garter is referred to as "the George".
The Order of Valour is an order of knighthood of the Cameroon.
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