Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Queen's New Order

The Queen wearing the insignia of the Order of Mubarak, the Amir the insignia of the Order of the Bath and the Duke wearing the insignia of the Order of Kuwait

Insignia of a Civil GCB
Royal visits are occasions for gifts.  Sometimes these are lavish, sometimes less so (it is the custom of the Queen to give visitors cut glass and signed photos).  In the case of a state visit by a ruling monarch, they can be of great symbolic value. Last week's state visit by the Amir of Kuwait to Britain was the occasion for the exchange of orders of chivalry.

The Amir was created an Honourary Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB) - the highest grade available and 'honourary' because the Amir is not a subject of the Crown.  This is the customary award given to foreign heads of state.

The Queen was was given an equivalent award - the Wisam al-Mubarak al-Kabir (the Order of Mubarak the Great).  This order was founded by Amir Sabah III in 1974 and the First Class (the Collar) is awarded to heads of state only.  Mubarak the Great was Sheik of Kuwait from 1896 to 1915, and succeeded in winning a level of independence for the sheikdom from the Ottoman Empire in 1897.

Insignia of the Qiladat al-Mubarak al-Kabir - Collar of Mubarak the Great

As can be seen from the official photographs taken during the state dinner held last week, the Duke of Edinburgh is a member of the Order of Kuwait (Wisam al-Kuwait).  Like the Order of Mubarak, this was established in 1974.  It is unclear whether the duke was made a member of the order during the visit, or whether he was already a member.  Both orders were redesigned after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 (existing stocks of the orders had been destroyed by the Iraqis), and I am uncertain whether the duke is wearing insignia of the first type or the second.

Insignia of the Order of Kuwait (first type)

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