THE LEOPOLD II ORDER IS BELGIANS FIFTH AND LOWEST ORDER. SHE WAS INSTITUTED DURING THE REIGN OF LEOPOLD II AS BEEING AN ORDER FOR CONGO FREE STATE. IN 1908 THE BELGIAN GOVERNEMENT TOOK CONTROL OVER CONGO, THE ORDER WAS TURNED INTO AN OFFICIAL BELGIUM ORDER. THIS IS WAY TWO DIFFERENT MODELS WHERE ESTABLISHED
The order of Leopold II was created under the name 'Décoration de l'ordre de Leopold II' on the 24th of August 1900. The order was created by King Leopold II of Belgium and King of the sovereign state l'Etat Independant du Congo for this state. King Leopold II wanted to create an order that was different from the two (Order of the African Star, Order of the Lion and Order of the crown) he already had been established. This new order had to be from his own house. Like many European kingdoms already had created in the 18th and 19th century On 18 oktober 1908 the Belgian governement restore the annexation of Congo wich the order gave a full Belgian status.
The order was created in the following classes:
- Grand Cross
- Grand Officer
- Medals (gold, silver and bronze)
The first for classes have a gilded/gold finish of the medal, while the fith class has a metal/silver finish. The crown must fit the same color as the class of the order.
The ribbon of the order is blue with a black stripe in the middle. Officers of the order wear a rozet on the ribbon that has the same collors.
The first model (1900-1908)
The fist model was established in 1900, although the 'L'Etat Indépendant du Congo never published the degree of 24-08-1900 wich makes the order not official. In the first degree the only following classes were mentiond: Officer, Knight and Medals. It was only till the 1st of May 1903 when the degree finally was published in the 'Bulletin Officiel de l'Etat Indépendant du Congo' that the higher classes were metioned and the order got his official status.
The description of the first model was mentioned in article 4 of the degree wich stated that in the center of the cross the coat of arms of the l'Etat Indépendant du Congo was placed with the following moto 'Travail et Progress'. On the reverse the monogram of King Leopold II from Belgium was placed.
The second model (1908-1951)
The second model has a Belgian lion in the centre of a black enameled corr, surrounded by a (kings)bleu enameled outer rim, inscriped with the text: 'L'Union fait la Force'. The medal itself is a brass Maltezer cross. The Royal degree states that there is no difference between the recipients of civilians, military or martime personel. In fact there are Leopold II orders made with crossed swords between the crown and the medal, wich indicates that the awardee had a military background. This was possibly done because of the law from 22 May 1912, wich gives military holders of the order from the class of officer a pension of 100 Belgian Francs.
The medals have the cross of the order embossed, the medals of the order do not have any differences between military, civilian or maritime recipients.
FIRST MODEL 1900 - 1908
THE 1912 MODEL (KNIGHT)
MILITARY CAMPAIGN MEDALS OF WORLD WAR 2
SECOND MODEL 1909 - 1951
SWORDS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR
BELGIAN WAR CROSS 1940-45
CROIX DE GUERRE 1940-45
MEDAL OF THE ARMED RESISTANCE
PRISONER OF WAR MEDAL
OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR