The Royal Guelphic Order, Civilian Division, Grand Cross Breast Star
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The Royal Guelphic Order was established by Prince Regent George, the future King George IV, in 1815 as an order of the new Hanoverian Kingdom. It was first proposed by Count Ernst Friedrich von Münster, the acting Minister of Hanover in London, in order to secure the status of the kingdom and reward Hanoverian subjects for their military achievements in the Napoleonic Wars. It was also awarded for a short period to British subjects, but was ceased following the death of King William IV in 1837 and the permanent separation of the British and Hanoverian crowns. The Order continues to be awarded in Germany by the head of the Hanoverian House.
The Order’s name is an allusion to the ancient dynasty of the House of Guelph of which the House of Hanover is a descendant. The institution date of the Order is also significant, as it was the Prince Regent’s birthday and the 101st anniversary of the accession of the House of Hanover to the British Throne.
From 1815-1837 when the Order was awarded in the United Kingdom, appointees considered “honourary” and were not automatically named Knights. The Order was conferred upon military personnel and civilians alike, and was awarded in great number during the reign of William IV. At the time, it was the only order in the United Kingdom that could be awarded to those who did not hold military or government positions. During this period, it was awarded in three classes and two divisions, but it was was reorganized into five, and later four, classes and two divisions following the separation of the crowns in 1837.
The decorations of the civil division feature a wreath of laurel, whereas decorations of the military division feature a wreath of oak with crossed swords above the suspension. Both feature the motto of the Order, NEC ASPERA TERRENT (“Difficulties do not terrify”).
There may be additional versions that differ in manufacturer, size, or composition.
See also the Royal Guelphic Order in the Orders of Hannover of the German Empire (1871-1918) for the continuation of the Order to the present day.
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