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|Order of Leopold II|
Ordre de Léopold II
Orde van Leopold II
Commander's cross of the Order of Leopold II
|Awarded by King of the Belgians|
|Type||Order of Merit with five classes and three medals|
|Established||24 August 1900|
1900 - 1908 (Order of Congo)
1908 - present (as Belgian Order)
|Motto||EENDRACHT MAAKT MACHT -|
L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE
|Eligibility||Eligible for persons above the age of 42|
|Awarded for||Bravery in combat or meritorious service|
|Grand Master||His Majesty King Philippe|
|Next (higher)||Order of the Crown|
|Next (lower)||Military Decoration for gallantry or exceptional devotion|
The Order of Leopold II is an order of Belgium and is named in honor of King Leopold II. The decoration was established on 24 August 1900 by Leopold II as king of the Congo Free State and was in 1908, upon Congo being handed over to Belgium, incorporated into the Belgian awards system. The order is awarded for meritorious service to the sovereign of Belgium, and as a token of his personal goodwill. It can be awarded to both Belgians and foreigners, and is seen as diplomatic gift of merit.
The order has become a long service order for people in the civil service and is awarded alternatively with the Order of the Crown, as the Order of Leopold is awarded under rarer circumstances. The order currently stands third after the Order of Leopold (1st) and the Order of the Crown (2nd) in the Belgian honors hierarchy. The Order of Leopold II is awarded by royal decree.
The Order of Leopold II is issued in five classes and three medals:
Stars and borders or stripes can be awarded together, but these deviations are currently only rarely awarded.
Originally, the central stripe of the ribbon was white, as blue and white were the colours of the Congo Free State.
The ribbon bar of the order, which is worn on the semi-formal dress uniform is:
Despite the fact that, contrary to the Order of Leopold, no maritime or military divisions of the Order of Leopold II exist, some unofficial decorations with crossed anchors or crossed swords under the suspension crown are known to exist.
National Orders are awarded by Royal Decree at fixed dates: 8 April (Birthday of King Albert I), 15 November (King's Feast), and in some cases on 21 July (Belgian national holiday)) to reward meritorious services to the Kingdom of Belgium based on the career path and age of the recipient. A number of different regulations rule the award of National Order for the various ministries. In addition, the National Orders may be awarded by the King for especially meritorious deeds. The Royal Decrees are published in the Belgian Official Journal (Moniteur Belge).
The Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs, currently the Federal Public Service (SPF/FOD) Foreign Affairs, administers the national orders and has a role of advisor in cases not fitting within a regulation.
For the award of National Orders for persons to which no regulation apply or has been adopted, the number of awards is limited every year by decision of the Council of Ministers (contingent).
The classes of the National Orders are integrated in a combined hierarchy defined by law, whereby within one class the Order of Leopold is senior to the Order of the Crown, which is senior to the Order of Leopold II. Except in some specific cases, one cannot be awarded a National Order at a level below the highest that the recipient has already received.
People who are the subject of criminal proceedings will usually not be awarded a National Order until they are declared not guilty.
The Order of Leopold II is awarded to military personnel on the basis of their length of service, with the years of training counting for half and the first twelve years of service as member of the flying personnel counting double:
For awards to military personnel, there is no minimum age requirement.
For commissioned officers not members of the flying personnel, the Order of Leopold II is only awarded at the time of retirement, even if it is in fact earned before that in line with the rules presented above. Even then, because of the generic rule that one cannot be awarded a National Order at a level below the highest that the recipient has already received, the Order of Leopold II will not be awarded if the recipient has been awarded in the meantime a higher National Order than the Order of Leopold II at the Class he could receive. This apparent anomaly is due to the fact that King Albert I, who was fond of aviation, wanted to provide a special reward to aircraft pilots, and therefore ordered that the Order of Leopold II only be awarded to them. In its early days, the Order of Leopold II awarded to pilots was adorned with a bar for every one hundred hours flown (a practice currently discontinued).
The Order of Leopold II is also sometimes awarded to military personnel not meeting the conditions above when they have performed especially meritorious services to the King that do not deserve a special award of the Order of Leopold. This is in particular the case for commissioned officers who have been adjutant to the King or Crown Prince (usually a part-time position for a few especially selected Major), who are usually awarded the Order at the rank of commander.
The Knight's Cross of the Order of Leopold II is awarded to the presidents, secretaries and members of the board of directors of the largest representative trade organisations such as trade unions on the basis of the number of members of the organisation, of the length of their membership of the board, and on the length of their tenure within the board.
The Knight's Cross of the Order of Leopold II is also awarded, after a tenure of 10 years, to the members of the provincial committees for the promotion of labour who have reached the age of 42.
The Officer's Cross of the Order of Leopold II is awarded, after a tenure of 30 years, to the members of the national committee for the promotion of labour who have reached the age of 42.[dubious ]
Even though orders from different States are not always easy to compare, the Order of Leopold II is roughly equivalent to the following orders from other States.