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The Order of the Elephant is the oldest and most distinguished Danish order and dates back to the 15th century. The statutes of the Order were established by King Christian V on the 1st December 1693. It is only since the 9th April 1959 that women have been eligible for admission to the Order. In earlier times the Order was mainly conferred on foreign princes and distinguished Danish noblemen, nowadays being almost exclusively awarded to Heads of State and Members of the Royal Family.

The explanation for the elephant as the symbol of the Order is most likely that a warrior elephant was used as a symbol for the defenders of Christianity who were incensed at the sight of Christ’s blood. At the same time the elephant symbolised purity and chastity. The badge of the Order of the Elephant is a white, enamelled, gold elephant decorated with a cross on one side and the monogram of the reigning monarch on the other. The elephant carries a tower on its back and a black moor holding a spear on its neck. The badge is worn either on a chain of gold elephants and towers, or on a blue ribbon across the left shoulder together with the Star of the Order.

Above, one of the earliest examples of the Collar of the Order of the Elephant, the highest Danish decoration. Below, a superb bejwelled elephant made to hang from the light blue sash of the Order.

Star of the Order of the Elephant made in brilliants and red enamel, worn by the Danish sovereigns.

The Order of Dannebrog was instituted by King Christian V in 1671, and like the Order of the Elephant, acquired its first official statutes on 1 December 1693. In 1808 the statutes were amended and extended, modelled on the French Légion d’Honneur, and the Order was divided into different grades. It is now mainly used to decorate meritorious Danish citizens. On the 10th October 1951 women became eligible for admission to the Order of Dannebrog. The decision to award an Order remains with the Master of the Order, The Danish Sovereign. The daily administration of the Orders is by the Chancery of the Royal Orders, an independent institution which is part of the Royal Household.

The badge of the Order of Dannebrog is a white enamelled gold or silver cross, edged in red, with a crown and the monogram of the reigning monarch. The face of the badge carries an inscription “God and King” with the monogram of Christian V in the centre. The Badge of the Grand Commander (abbreviated S Kmd) is conferred on members of the Royal Family who are already Knights of the Elephant. It is worn on a cravat - women wear it on a ladies’ bow - with a breast star.

Breast Star of the Order of the Dannebrog made in gold, diamonds and rubies, worn by the Danish Sovereigns.

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