Order of Merit, Military Division, Knight's Cross
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The Order of Merit was established by King Carol II on June 5, 1931. It was suppressed in 1947 following the abolition of the Romanian monarchy but was re-instated in 2000 following the collapse of the communist regime. The President of Romania is the Grand Master.
The Order of Merit was originally conferred upon individuals in recognition of service to the crown or distinguished achievements in the arts or civil service. It was seldom awarded during the reign of Mihai I. It is currently awarded to Romanian and foreign civilians and military personnel in three divisions. The Civil Division is conferred upon civilians in recognition of distinguished service to the nation and the Military Division is conferred upon military personnel in recognition of distinguished service in peacetime. The Wartime Division is awarded in recognition of meritorious actions and services performed during periods of war. The Order may also be conferred upon entire military units and foreign ambassadors who have served in Romania for at least one year.
From 1931-1947, membership in the Knight grade was limited to 144 members (96 Romanian citizens and 48 foreigners) in peacetime and was unlimited in wartime. There is a current limit of 3000 Knights in the Civil Division and 1000 in the Military Division. Awards made in the Wartime Division, as well as to foreigners and military units, are not included in membership limitations.
There are two different models of the Knight that differ in design and inscription. The first was awarded in the Kingdom of Romania and features the cypher of King Carol II in the medallion. The second has been awarded since 2000 and features the national crest on the obverse and a reverse inscription that translates to "For Merit."
The Military Division Knight features surmounting crossed swords and the Wartime Division Knight features crossed swords that run through the body of the cross.
The previous versions are listed in the Orders of the Kingdom of Romania (1881-1947). See also the Honour Cross of Merit in the Medals & Decorations of the Kingdom of Romania (1881-1947) for the decoration that was created as an extension of the Order.
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