Royal Order of the Lion, Grand Cross (1951-1962)
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The Royal Order of the Lion was established by King Leopold II on April 9th, 1891 as a celebration of his own 56th birthday. It was originally created as an Order of the Congo Free State, but it was later 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 Order was discontinued in 1962 following the declaration of Congolese independence in 1960. The King was Grand Master.
The Order was conferred in recognition service rendered to the Congo, or to African civilisation in general, that did not merit the Order of the African Star.
A number of different clasps were awarded with the Order: a palm branch with the cypher of Albert I was awarded for war merit during the First World War, a palm branch with the cypher of Leopold III was awarded for war merit in the Second World War or the Korean War, a palm branch (without royal monogram) was awarded for war merit in the Second World War or the Korean War, and a gold star was awarded to civilians for mention in official dispatches.
There are two versions of the Grand Cross which differ in obverse inscription. The inscription of both versions translates to “Labour and Progress,” but appears on the first version in French and on the second version in French and Dutch. Both versions feature the royal cypher of Leopold II on the reverse.
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