The Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry

The insignia of the Order of the Sword, The Royal Palace. Photo: The Royal Court/Alexis Daflos.
A permanent exhibition of Royal Orders is on show in the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry at the Royal Palace.

Four rooms make up the apartments, one room for each order. Until 1949, these halls were home to the Swedish Supreme Court, established in 1789 by Gustav III.

The permanent exhibition features the Swedish Order of Knights, also displaying select objects used in Order related ceremonies.

When booking a guided tour of the Royal Apartments, you can complement the visit with a guided tour of the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry.

Seraphim Orders

The Order of the Seraphim or the Order of His Majesty The King, is the most outstanding distinction in Sweden. The Order has only one Class with the dignity of Knight or Member and nowadays it is conferred exclusively on members of the Swedish Royal Family and on foreign heads of state or other persons of comparable rank.
The Seraphim Medal also belongs to this order, and is controlled by His Majesty the King.

The Order of the Sword

The Order of the Sword was originally presented for bravery in the field and at sea, and later also as a reward for long and distinguished service in the armed forces.
Special degrees constituted the rank of the Knight, with the Order of the Sword-s Maltese-type cross only conferred when Sweden is at war. (Dormant since Order Reform of 1975.)

Order of the Polar Star

Earlier, the Order of the Polar Star was intended as a reward for Swedish and foreign civic merits, for devotion to duty, for science, literary, learned and useful works and for new and beneficial institutions. The order also has a medal “the Polar Star Medal" introduced in 1986.

Since 1975, the Order of the Polar Star is only presented to foreign nationals or stateless persons for services to Sweden or Swedish interests.

The Order of Vasa

The Order of Vasa was intended as a reward for services in a number of fields, for presentation to persons not eligible for the "service orders" of the Sword and the Polar Star.
The Order of Vasa was a free order, i.e. unrestricted by rules of birth and education.

The cross of the order is composed on the same lines as the insignia of the more senior orders and is surmounted by a crowned sheaf, the emblem of the Vasa dynasty. (Dormant since the Order Reform of 1975.)

The History of the System of Orders

Originally, Orders were denotations for a group of people, who conformed to certain rules and obligations for a resolute spiritual or temporal purpose.

In 1748, Fredrik I introduced an official System of Orders in Sweden, designed not only for Swedish citizens, but also for foreigners. At this time the Seraphim, Sword and Polar Star Orders were established.
In the 1720s the introduction of “service orders" was already under discussion, but it was not until the middle of the 1740s that the time was ripe for the introduction of the Swedish Order of Knights. In 1772, Gustav III instituted the Order of Vasa and in 1811 Carl XIII instituted an Order in his name.

Since the 1860s the decoration of Orders has been criticised. It was regarded as unfair and automatic, decoration was almost expected after a year of service. After the Order Reform of 1974 both the Order of the Sword and the Order of Vasa were made dormant. It was no longer seen as modern to confer orders on Swedish citizens.