Order of Merit, Grand Cross
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The Order of Merit was established by the Polish People's Republic in 1974 as the Order of Merit of the Polish People's Republic. It was seen as a replacement for the Order of the White Eagle, which had been outlawed by the communist government in 1960, despite continuous conferral by the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile. Following the collapse of communism in Poland in 1989, the Order of the White Eagle was re-established as the highest state award and the Order of Merit of the Polish People's Republic was amended and awarded as the Order of Merit. The President of the Republic is Grand Master.
The Order is conferred upon foreigners and Polish citizens residing abroad in recognition of outstanding contributions to Poland and outstanding cooperation in international relations. For this reason, it is commonly known as a diplomatic order.
There are two models of the Grand Cross that differ in inscription and design according to changes in the government. The first features initials that stand for “Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej” (Polish People’s Republic), and the second features initials that stand for “Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej” (Republic of Poland). The second model also omits the institution date and features a royal crown on the obverse eagle.
There may be additional versions of the Grand Cross that differ in size.
The second model is listed in the Orders of the Third Polish Republic (1989-).
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