The history of Royal Orders is extremely rich and varied.
Royal Orders are given out for a variety of reasons, including just being born or married into a royal family (usually referred to as “Family Orders”), service to the sovereign or to the country, or as diplomatic gifts.
Some Orders are given at the sole discretion of the monarch, while others are awarded by the country’s government in consultation with the reigning king or queen.
To make things even more complicated, some Orders have different ranks within the Order!
What do the insignia of an Order look like? In general, the collars, which look much like a necklace, but are worn from shoulder to shoulder rather than around the neck, are the most formal presentation of an Order, worn for the most opulent of occasions.
Princess Mary wearing the Collar for the Order of the Elephant
Along with the Collar, you also get either a Star or a Badge to wear at lesser ceremonial occasions. So, what is the difference between these two?
A Badge is worn with a sash. Most sashes are worn from right shoulder to left hip, but not always! The Badge is then worn at the hip.
Stars are worn at the waist or at the shoulder (or even in-between).
Here is Crown Princess Victoria demonstrating how to wear three Royal Orders—a Badge, a Star at the waist and a Family Order at the shoulder.
To add to all the bling, you also may wear a small brooch on the back part of the sash to hold it in place!
And, a brooch on the front of the sash if you really need to keep your sash on tightly!
Then, there are Family Orders. These have a miniature of the sovereign (or past sovereign) in a small decorative frame. They are usually on a fabric bow and worn at the shoulder.
Here is Queen Elizabeth II’s family order:
And Norway’s Family Order:
The rules for wearing Royal Orders are extremely complicated, and vary from country to country, so we are not going to explore that topic!
So, how do you make your own Royal Order?
Let’s discuss stars, sashes and badges.
Stars: Perhaps the easiest. Find a huge blingy pin and pin it on! Or maybe sew it on your gown to keep the pin from dragging and drooping. Maltese crosses appear to be a popular motif.
From Etsy, sold
Or perhaps some other royal looking piece:
From Etsy, sold
Add a star to a sash for a sash presentation!
For a Royal Family Order, find a miniature enameled or jeweled frame and add a picture of your favorite monarch.
Frame from Etsy, sold
Add a pretty bow brooch to the top of the frame, and then your ribbon bow.
From Etsy, both sold
Okay, so how about the ribbon sash or bow? Studying images of Royal Orders, the ribbons used are usually some sort of grosgrain or moire (and, I would imagine, of silk and perhaps metal threads). Some ribbons have stripes along the edge. Since you are making up your own Royal Orders, use a complementary or contrasting color to your dress!
A great tutorial on making sashes and bows--
Here’s my Royal Family Order that I made for Costume College several years ago, in need of some straightening.
PS I have no idea where I got the bits and pieces. I think that perhaps the frame was a Christmas ornament
I found at a little boutique!
Have fun making your very o