History: The Order of the Elephant

The Order of the Elephant is most prestigious and oldest order we have. The order was 'established' in the middle of the 15th century. The status of the order today is from 1693, with only few changes in 1808 and 1958. No actual year or date, what we know off, indicates when the order was created. It's history that King Christian I (1448-1481) was the one who started giving collars in 1457. Only 50 member s, men and women, were owners of this order. When Denmark was ruled by King Christian IV (1670-1699) only 30 people had the order. To be a member you had to be, among others, of the Lutheran church.

In 2004 April 9th, did Crown Princess Mary acquire the title Knight of the Order of Elephant.

The Order has changed look throughout the years, in the beginning there was no elephant but Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus. Next the current King and an elephant who was in the collar. Then it changed to an elephant and the coat of arms of Denmark followed by a golden medallion in the shape of an elephant. So the elephants have most of the time been a part of the history. When we come to the years around 1648-1670, when Kind Frederik III ruled, the Order is now a white elephant with a blue ribbon and a silver star, just like we see it today. For many years the Order was not used because it's was regarded as a symbol of chastity and piety.

Today the Order is not used that much. We see it at state visits, gala dinners, at New Year and at the three Order Days:

* 1 of January, Knights of the Order Day
* 16th of April, Queen Margrethe's birthday 
* 28th of June, King Valdemar Sejr's birthday 

The Order of the Elephant contains several pieces not only the blue sash with the white elephant in the end. I have collected all of them here with a description and some history: 

Collar of the Order is made of gold and consists of alternating towers and elephants with blue enamel rugs with the letter D for Dacia, the Ladin made for Denmark. This is often seen at the New Year receptions. (See the first pictures of Mary wearing it in 2007)

Badge of the Order is approx. 5 cm high figure of an elephant covered with gold in white enamel. On the back of the animal it caries a guard tower. At the right side is a cross of diamonds and the left side of the elephant is the current King or Queen's monogram, M for Queen Margrethe

The star of the Order is a octagonal silver star with a gilt and enameled plate. In the middle is seen a cross surrounded by pearl and a silver laurel wreath. The star is always worn on the left side of the chest (see the picture above).

The sash of the Order is made of blue silk but are a little different from male to female. For men it's 10 cm wide and for women it is 6 cm., four cm narrower then for men. The sash are always worn from the left shoulder to the right hip. This is different from almost any other order also similar order in countries abroad. A thing to remember is that the blue silk sash and the golden collar are never worn at the same time.


  1. So when the monarchy changes hands so to speak, from Margarethe to her son Frederick, will they get all new elephants with the new monogram?

  2. I made a similar post on my blog while ago. About rules for the wearing of orders and sashes.http://tesourastiaras.blogspot.pt/2012/08/miss-e-mister-monarquia.html.
    It´s in portuguese, hope your google translator will be good.. ;)

  3. To Casey:
    I can not give you the exact answer, because I do not know. But I will assume that the monogramt change when Frederik becomes king.

  4. To L.:

    I would love to post the link on my site, so peole can see it. But unfortunately the link does not work... you might send a new link??

  5. This is my blog adress http://tesourastiaras.blogspot.pt/.
    The post i mentioned is on this link http://tesourastiaras.blogspot.pt/2012/08/miss-e-mister-monarquia.html
    I have no ideia why links never work in some blogs comments. Thank you

  6. To L:
    Thanks for the new, it's working! ;) It is an amezing post. Hope it is okay with you that I post it so people can see it?