This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article
in Danish. (September 2017) Click [show] for important translation instructions.
Machine translation like DeepL
or Google Translate
is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia.
Consider adding a topic
to this template: there are already 426 articles in the main category
, and specifying|topic= will aid in categorization.
Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article.
You must provide copyright attribution
in the edit summary
accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link
to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing Danish Wikipedia article at [[:da:Elefantordenen]]; see its history for attribution.
You should also add the template ((Translated|da|Elefantordenen)) to the talk page
For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation
Collar of the Order of the Elephant.
family coat of arms with the Order's collar on gravestone in
The Order of the Elephant (Danish: Elefantordenen) is a Danish order of chivalry and is Denmark's highest-ranked honour. It has origins in the 15th century, but has officially existed since 1693, and since the establishment of constitutional monarchy in 1849, is now almost exclusively used to honour royalty and heads of state.
A Danish religious confraternity called the Fellowship of the Mother of God, limited to about fifty members of the Danish aristocracy, was founded during the reign of Christian I during the 15th century. The badge of the confraternity showed the Virgin Mary holding her Son within a crescent moon and surrounded with the rays of the sun, and was hung from a collar of links in the form of elephants much like the present collar of the Order. After the Reformation in 1536 the confraternity died out, but a badge in the form of an elephant with his profile on its right side was still awarded by Frederick II. This latter badge may have been inspired by the badge of office of the chaplain of the confraternity which is known to have been in the form of an elephant. The order was instituted in its current form on 1 December 1693 by King Christian V as having only one class consisting of only 30 noble knights in addition to the Grand Master (i.e., the king) and his sons. The statutes of the order were amended in 1958 by a Royal Ordinance so that both men and women could be members of the order.
The elephant and castle design derives from the howdah, a carriage that is mounted in the back of an elephant. This type of carriage was mostly utilized in the Indian subcontinent, and the Danish knew about and thus had the ability to adopt this design since they ruled certain parts of India as part of their small colonial empire. The unfamiliar Indian howdah has been replaced in this instance by a familiar European castle, although the Indian rider has been kept on the elephant.
The Danish monarch is the head of the order. The members of the royal family are members of the order, and foreign heads of state are also inducted. In very exceptional circumstances a commoner may also be admitted. The most recent member of the order who was neither a current or former head of state nor royal was Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, a leading industrialist and philanthropist.
The order of the Elephant has one class: Knight of the Order of the Elephant (Ridder af Elefantordenen, usually abbreviated as R.E. in letters et cetera). Knights of the order are granted a place in the 1st Class of the Danish order of precedence.
Insignia and habits
- The collar of the order is of gold. It consists of alternating elephants and towers. On the cover of the elephants there is a D which stands for Dania, mediaeval Latin for Denmark. According to the statutes of the order, the collar is usually only worn on New Years Day (during the Danish monarch's New Years Court) and on major occasions (coronations or jubilees).
- The badge of the order is an elephant made of white-enamelled gold with blue housings. It is about 5 cm high. On its back the elephant is bearing a watch tower of pink enameled masonry encircled by a row of small table cut diamonds at the bottom with another row just below the crenellation at the top. In front of the tower and behind the elephant's head (which has a diamond set in its forehead and smaller diamonds for its eyes) a colorfully attired and turbaned Moor mahout is sitting, holding a golden rod; on the right side of the elephant there is a cross of five large table cut diamonds and on the left side the elephant bears the crowned monogram of the monarch reigning when it was made. At the top of the tower is a large enameled gold ring from which the badge can be hung from the collar or tied to the sash of the Order. There are about 72 elephants at the chancery of the Order or in circulation. It is estimated that together with an unknown number of elephants in museums around the world, the total number of the elephants is about a hundred.
- The star of the order is an eight-pointed silver star with smooth rays. At its center there is a red enameled disc with a white cross, surrounded by a laurel wreath in silver. It is worn on the left side of the chest.
- The sash of the order is of light-blue silk moiré and 10 cm wide for men 6 cm wide for women. It is placed on the left shoulder with the elephant resting against the right hip. The collar is not worn when the sash is used.
- The order originally had a distinctive habit worn by the knights on very solemn occasions consisting of a white doublet, white breeches, white stockings and white shoes, over which was worn a red mantle with a white lining and with the star of the order embroidered in silver on left side. Over this red mantle was worn a short white shoulder cape with a standing collar, embroidered with scattering of numerous gold flames, upon which was worn the collar of the order (the habit was always worn with the collar of the order, never its ribbon). The habit also had a black hat with a plume of white and red ostrich feathers. This habit was almost identical to that worn by the knights of the Order of the Dannebrog.
Upon the death of a Knight of the Order of the Elephant, the insignia of the order must be returned. There are a few exceptions known.
Other notable knights
Previous knights have included:
- James III, King of Scots and son-in-law of Christian I of Denmark (1469)
- Tycho Brahe, astronomer (1578)
- Heinrich Rantzau, German-Danish humanist, writer, astrologer and statesman (1580)
- Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam, Dutch lieutenant-admiral (1659)
- Egbert Bartholomeusz Kortenaer, Dutch vice-admiral (1659)
- Cornelis Tromp, Dutch and Danish admiral-general (1676)
- Ernst Albrecht von Eberstein, military leader (1676)
- Ernst Heinrich von Schimmelmann, politician and landowner (1790)
- Duke William Frederick Philip of Württemberg, Danish general and Governor of Copenhagen during the (Battle of Copenhagen (1801))
- Albert, Prince Consort, (10 January 1843)
- J.B.S. Estrup, Danish landowner, politician and President of the Council of State (1878)
- Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy (1891)
- Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1909)
- Vilhelm Thomsen, professor, Dr. Phil., Danish linguist (1912)
- H.N. Andersen, Danish businessman, Consul-General, titular Councilor of State (1919)
- C.G.E. Mannerheim, President of the Republic of Finland, Marshal of Finland (1919)
- Umberto II, King of Italy, then Prince of Piedmont as heir to the throne (1922)
- Hirohito, Emperor of Japan then Crown prince (1923)
- Stanisław Wojciechowski, President of the Republic of Poland (1923)
- Tomáš Masaryk, President of the Czechoslovak Republic (1925)
- Reza Shah of Persia (former name of Iran) (1937)
- Miklós Horthy, Austro-Hungarian vice-admiral, Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary (1940)
- Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, British Field Marshal (1945)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, General of the Army (1945)
- Niels Bohr, professor, Dr. Phil. & Scient. & Techn., Danish physicist and Nobel laureate, Manifested Copenhagen interpretation ("atom theory") (1947)
- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1947)
- Sir Winston Churchill, British prime minister and Nobel laureate (1950)
- Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia (21 November 1954)
- Princess Elisabeth of Denmark, Danish diplomat and cousin of Margrethe II of Denmark (1962)
- Julius Nyerere, President of the United Republic of Tanzania (1970)
- Josip Broz Tito, President of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (1974)
- Richard von Weizsäcker, President of the Federal Republic of Germany (1989)
- Nicolae Ceauşescu, President of the Socialist Republic of Romania (Note: Awarded on the November 1980 state visit to Denmark, but revoked by the Queen on 23 December 1989. The insignia have been returned to Denmark and Ceauşescu's name has been deleted from the official rolls.)
- Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic (1993)
- Nelson Mandela, President of the Republic of South Africa (1996)
- Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, Danish shipping magnate (2000)