Order of the Crown, Silver Palms
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The Order of the Crown was established by King Leopold II by Royal Decree on October 15, 1897. It was originally created as an Order of the Congo Free State, but it was later was integrated into the national hierarchy of decorations in Belgium after the Congo Free State ceased to exist as a private domain of King Leopold II in 1908. The King is Grand Master.
From 1897-1908 the Order was conferred for artistic and scientific merit, commercial and industrial merit, civil service, and other services rendered to the Congo Free State. Since 1908 the Order has been conferred upon Belgian civilians and military personnel, and foreigners for merit in the fields of art, literature, science, commerce and industry, as well as for other services rendered to the state. The Order (except the Palms) can also be awarded for war merit. The Order was notably awarded in large numbers during the First and Second World Wars.
A number of different clasps have been awarded with the Order: a palm branch with the cypher of Albert I was awarded to military personnel for war merit during the First World War, a black enamelled bar clasp was worn on decorations awarded to mothers of the fallen in the First World War, a palm branch with the cypher of Leopold III was awarded to military personnel for war merit in the Second World War or the Korean War, and a palm branch (without royal monogram) was awarded to military personnel for war merit in the Second World War or the Korean War. At present, a crossed swords clasp is awarded to military personnel for war merit, as well as to war veterans, and a gold star is awarded to civilians for mention in official dispatches. A ribbon bordered in gold, or with a gold stripe down the centre, is awarded to civilians for war merit.
The Silver Palms were added to the Order on June 25, 1898. There are slight variations in size, design, and suspension between versions manufactured by different firms.
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