Order of the Elephant  | The Royal Watcher

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  • Post published:January 12, 2024
  • Post category:News

When Crown Prince Frederik becomes King Frederik X on the Abdication of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark this Sunday, he will also become the Sovereign of the 330 year-old Order of the Elephant ‘Elefantordenen’, the highest Danish Honour, which we are featuring today!

The Jewels of the Queens of Denmark | Order of the Elephant


Originating from a religious group who awarded a badge of an elephant in the 15th Century, the Order of the Elephant was formally established by King Christian V in 1693.

The Order of the Elephant, however, has a history that goes considerably further back than 1693. Far and away, it is Denmark’s oldest and most distinguished royal order of chivalry. In its original form, it can be tracked back to around 1460 when Christian I, with the Pope’s approval, established “The Fellowship of the Mother of God”. That society’s badge was a medallion of The Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus worn on a chain of tower-bearing elephants.

In connection with the Lutheran reformation in 1536, use of the Catholic-inspired order was suspended for a number of years. In 1580, Frederik II revived it, then with the elephant as the order’s badge. With the statute of 1693 came the first established rules for the presentation of the Order’s insignias: the tower-bearing elephant, the chain-link collar, the blue sash, and the star worn on the left chest. These rules are still in force.


The Badge of the Order is a a white-enamelled elephant, with a tower on it’s back, and a Moor holding a spear on its neck.

The choice of the elephant as the actual badge therefore signalled a certain form of continuity between the older pre-Reformation Catholic order and the revived Order of the Elephant from 1580. Through this artifice, it was possible, on one hand, to put the old Catholic order at a distance but also, on the other hand, to signal a discreet link, which ensured the Order of the Elephant a venerable age.

No valid explanation can be found in the Order of the Elephant’s statutes or other available material as to why the elephant gained foothold as a symbol in a Danish order.

The Sash, of light blue silk, is worn from the left shoulder to the right hip, in contrast to most Orders worn from the right shoulder to the left hip, on which rests the Badge of the Elephant.

The Star is an eight-point silver star, with a cross of diamonds on a red disc, surrounded by a silver wreath of laurel leaves.

The Collar of the Elefantordenen is made of gold, in alternating links of towers and elephants suspending the Badge.


The Collar of the Order of the Elephant can only been worn on three days; the New Year’s Court, the Sovereign’s birthday, and the birthday of Valdemar the Victorious, in addition to a special Day celebrating the Sovereign’s Jubilee.

This follows a tradition that was already laid down in 1693 when Christian V issued the first written statutes, which are still valid. In those statutes it was determined, among other things, that on the Order’s festival days – of which the first day of the year is one – the Order of the Elephant is to be worn on a golden chain consisting of alternating links shaped like elephants and towers instead of on a blue sash.

Insignia of the Crown Jewels

Crown Princess Mary may be getting a huge cache of heirloom jewels, but the soon-to-be King Frederik X of Denmark will gain possession of the spectacular centuries-old diamond-encrusted insignia of the Order of the Elephant from the Danish Crown Jewels.

The Chain of the Order of the Elephant with Insignia, gold with enamel and table-cut stones. The Chain was possibly made in Copenhagen by the goldsmith Jean Henri de Moor after 1693; the elephant possibly by Paul Kurtz, 1671.

The Breast star of the Order of the Elephant, brilliants and pearls on gold and enamel. Possibly made c. 1770 by J.F. Fistaine

The Chain of the Order of Dannebrog with Insignia, gold with enamel and table-cut stones. The Order was established by Christian V in 1671. The Insignia was possibly made by Paul Kurtz in the same year.

The Breast star of the Order of Dannebrog, gold with brilliants and rubies. Made after amendments to the statutes of the Order in 1808, probably for Frederik VI.

The Danish Royal Family

Until 1958, when the statutes were amended by a Royal Ordinance, only males were allowed to be members of the Order, with the exception of Danish Queens who only received the Insignia. The children of the Sovereign become members of the Order at the time of their parent’s accession while Spouses get the Elephant on marriage, and some other family members received it on their 18th Birthday.

Click on the highlighted years to see the first appearance of each person in the Order!

Foreign Royal Knights

The Order of the Elephant is granted to Foreign Heads of State on their State Visits to Denmark, which include Foreign Sovereigns. The Elephant is also given to Royal Consorts and Heirs, as well as some members of the extended Royal Family, which is given at the discretion of the Danish Monarch and does not always align with State Visits, also being given for Birthdays and associated Anniversaries. The Foreign Royal Knights of the Elephant are:   

The Jewels of the Queens of Denmark | Order of the Elephant


The Jewels of the Queens of Denmark

Danish Pearl Poiré Tiara

Danish Emerald Parure

Baden Palmette Tiara

Danish Crown Diamond Parure

The Danish Ruby Parure

Khedive of Egypt Tiara

Antique Diamond Parure

Antique Turquoise Parure

Daisy Brooch

Crown Pearl and Ruby Parure

Queen Alexandrine’s Sapphire Parure

Floral Bracelet Choker

Ruby Horseshoe Brooch

Queen Margrethe’s Engagement Ring

Connaught Pearl Brooch

Queen Josefina’s Diamond Brooches

Queen Margrethe’s Pearl and Diamond Corsage

Danish Royal Tiaras | The Jewels of Queen Margrethe II of Denamrk | Danish Royal Orders

Wedding Tiara

Diamond Necklace Tiara

Midnight Tiara

Princess Dagmar’s Diamond Floral Tiara

Alexandrine Drop Tiara

Wedding Earrings

Diamond Fringe Earrings

Aquamarine Jewels

Amethyst Earrings

Connaught Sapphire Brooch

Diamond Flower Brooch

Diamond Flower Earrings

Ole Lynggaard Brooch

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