Badge of the Order of the Golden Dragon

Badge of the Order of the Golden Dragon

There are in Wales many different Royal and Military Orders and Honours available for the State to use to reward both Welsh citizens and foreigners.

At the direction of the Chancellor and the discretion of the monarch, there are three Royal Chivalric Orders and other Distinguished Orders. There are also several military decorations for the rewarding of members of the Armed Forces above and beyond campaign medals.

Royal Orders

The three Royal Orders are, in order of precedence;

  1. The Ancient and Royal Order of the Golden Dragon - Established in 1553
  2. The Illustrious and Royal Order of St David - Established in 1690
  3. The Honourable and Royal Order of St Tewdrig - Established in 1835
  4. The Most Righteous Order of St David 1720-1796. This was an Anglo-Scottish order awarded during the period of the English Occupation during which time the two Welsh Orders were banned.

Y Gorchymyn Hynafol a Brenhinol y Ddraig Euraidd - The Ancient and Royal Order of the Golden Dragon

The Order was first founded by King Rhodri in 1553 as a direct counterpart to the English Order of the Garter. Rhodri felt that with the separation of the English from the Roman Catholic faith that a new order of chivalry was required in the British Isles and instituted this order. Modelled on the Garter Order, this order existed until the conquest of Wales in 1719 by the English who suppressed this order. It was re-established in 1856 by King Rhisiart III.

It is the highest award which can be given in the Kingdom of Wales and it remains completely within the purview of the monarch who can award at his or her discretion. It can be awarded to both civilians and military according to their merits.

Its motto is "resurgere a malignis" translated as "to rise from adversity". Its chapel is held within the walls of Llandaff Cathedral.

Y Gorchymyn yn Enwog a Brenhinol Dewi Sant - The Illustrious and Royal Order of St David

This order was the second Welsh chivalric order to be established and was first instituted by King Hywel IV in 1690 to complement the existing Order of the Golden Dragon.

The Order can be conferred for outstanding achievements in the fields of education, science, sport, culture, art, economics, defense of the country, social work, civil service, or for furthering good relations between countries. It can be awarded to both civilians and soldiers, as well as to foreigners.

Its motto is "Gloria enim Dei Sancti Davidus" translated as "For the Glory of God and St David". Its chapel is held within the walls of St Davids Cathedral

Y Gorchymyn Anrhydeddus a Brenhinol Tewdrig Sant - The Honourable NS Royal Order of St Tewdrig

This order was first instituted in 1835 by King Cystenin. It was intended as a reward for service to the monarchy and is usually awarded to anyone who serves the monarch at the Royal Court. It is also awarded to senior diplomats and politicians upon retirement. It can be awarded to both civilians and members of the Armed Forces. It is only awarded to foreigners however in exceptional circumstances (one such recipient being the American Ambassador to Wales in the early 1950's)

Its motto is "ad honorem servire" which is translated as "to serve with honour". Its chapel is the Shrine of St Tewdrig in Mathern.

The Most Righteous Order of St David

The order was instituted by the Anglo-Scottish Crown in 1720 as an order to reward both noblemen involved in the Welsh conquest and as a way to bind the remaining senior Welsh nobility to the new regime. It lasted from 1720 until 1796 when it became defunct with the Welsh Restoration.

Its chapel was in the welsh Church of St David in London.

Its motto was "for the glory of the Crown"

Royal Distinguished Orders

These are awards outside the purview of the monarch and are nominated by the Chancellor and appointed at the monarchs discretion

In order of seniority they are

  1. Royal Order of Rhisiart - Established 1801
  2. Royal Welsh Order of Merit - Established 1865
  3. Royal Order of Cystennin - Established 1868
  4. Royal Welsh Order of the African Star Established 1902
  5. Imperial Order of the Empire - Established 1910

Gorchymyn Frenhinol Rhisiart - Royal Order of Rhisiart

This is a military order awarded for "distinguished service, sacrifice, and courage in actions against terrorism in the country or during foreign deployments of the Welsh Armed Forces. Inaugurated by King Arthur it was designed at first to reward the veterans of the War of Independence and has as its monogram the triple "R" representing Kings Rhisiart I and II. The Order works in conjunction with the Pendragon Star. Holders of that award are automatically entered into this Order although you do not have to hold the Star in order to be entered into the Order.

Its motto is "liberatores Wallia oriuntur" translated as "liberators of Wales arise"

Gorchymyn Frenhinol Cymru Teilyngdod - Royal Welsh Order of Merit

This was another Order instituted by Rhisiart III. It is awarded to foreigners, Welsh citizens living abroad, Ministry of Foreign Affairs diplomats, foreign civil servants in Wales, and Wales' honorary consuls for "outstanding service in the interests of Wales. It is a purely civilian award.

Its motto is "meritis omnia" translated as "for merit to all"

Gorchymyn Frenhiniol Cystennin - Royal Welsh Order of Cystennin

Sometimes called the Constantinian Order, this order was instituted by Rhisiart III in memory of his father, King Cystennin. It is designed to reward those who have had distinguished service in science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. It can be awarded to both Welsh citizens (regardless of their military or civilian status) and to foreigners.

Its motto is "via illuminaverit" translated as "to light the way"

Gorchymyn Brenhinol Cymreig y Seren Affricanaidd - Royal Welsh Order of the African Star

The Order of the African Star was introduced by Rhisiart IV in 1902 as a new order of knighthood to honour African Princes and Chiefs, as well as Welsh officers and administrators who served in Welsh West Africa. It was disbanded in the 1960's with the ending of the Welsh Empire in Africa.

Its motto was "seren i gynnau'r tywyllwch" translated as "a star to light the darkness"

Ymerodraidd Gorchymyn o Ymerodraeth - Imperial Order of the Empire

The Imperial Order of the Empire was introduced by Iorwerth in 1910 as a general Imperial Order to reward people throughout the Welsh Empire. With the demise of the RWOAS in the 1960's many thought that this order would also be removed. Under Arthur II however this order was revived as an order rewarding people for service to the Welsh State.

Its motto is "i ymdrechu tuag at y dyfodol" translated as "to strive towards the future"


These are military decorations awarded by the state. In order of precedence they are

  1. The Pendragon Star
  2. The Kings Gallantry Cross
  3. The Distinguished Service Cross
  4. The War Cross
  5. The Military Cross - With Army, Navy and Air Force

Seren Penddraig - The Pendragon Star

The Pendragon Star was created as the Welsh equivalent to the British Victoria Cross and as such is awarded under the same criteria as the British version. It is awarded for "most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy". Holders are entitled to use the letters "SP" after their names

Croes Dewrder Brenhinoedd - The Kings Gallantry Cross

This is a second tier award available across the Welsh Services (with Army, Naval and Air Force versions). First awarded by Rhisiart IV, it may be awarded posthumously, and is awarded "in recognition of an act or acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy". Until the 1990's this was an award only eligible to officers. Since 1991 this award is now issued regardless of rank. Holders are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "CDB".

Nodedig ar Draws Gwasanaethau - The Distinguished Service Cross

First instituted by Rhisiart IV this award rewards "gallantry during active operations against the enemy". This award has always been open to all ranks and similarly to the CDB this has Army, Naval and Air Force versions. This is a third level award.

Holders are entitled to the post-nominals "NDG".

Rhyfel Croes - The War Cross

This third level award can only be awarded during a time of conflict where Wales is an active belligerent (all other awards can be awarded during "peaceful operations" eg: NATO or UN deployments). It is awarded for extraordinary brave actions or extraordinary leadership during combat during active operations where the award of the NDG or the CDB is not appropriate. There is only one version of this award regardless of the recipients service. Holders are entitled to the post-nominal "RC". The last time this was awarded was during the Vietnam War.

Milwrol Croes -The Military Cross

This award is split into the three services and is a fourth level award. It is awarded for servicemen/women who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of Wales. Holders of this award are not entitled to any post-nominal letters.

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