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Royal Order of the Crested Crane of Rwanda

Royal Order of the Crested Crane of Rwanda

 

The Order of the Crested Crane (Usumbere in the native Kinyarwandan), the third-highest Order in the de jure Kingdom of Rwanda, is the inheritor of the Rwandan tradition called the Impotore, the torse bracelet. After a warrior killed his 14th enemy in combat, he was awarded this honour on the following conditions: the 14 kills had to be foreign adversaries killed in an authorized battle by the Mwami, and the deaths must occur on the field of war. The honour consisted of a bracelet formed from a leaf of iron and a leaf of brass. These were rolled together to form the twisted design of the torse. The torse bracelet was historically housed in a separate location and could not be placed on the ground as a sign of reverence. The torse bracelet could not be worn by a warrior concurrently with the necklace of the seventh, and the two items were required to be housed in different locations.

 

The Royal Order of the Crested Crane was created by H.M. King Mutara III as a continuation of the Impotore tradition. In the Kingdom of Rwanda, the award was granted with a feathered cap, which was a form of coronet. The Order was re-affirmed by H.M. King Kigeli V on the 3rd of January in 1998, and it is inspired by the national bird of Rwanda, the crested crane. The bird also serves as a supporter in H.M. King Kigeli V’s heraldry.

 

There are two ranks in the Order. The higher rank is Grand Cross, and the lower rank is Commander. The Order may be granted as a hereditary award or as a non-hereditary honour, although it is generally issued as a hereditary honour. Nobility is conferred upon the grantee.


Order of the Crested Crane breast star

Order of the Crested Crane insignia for sash

Order of the Crested Crane miniature medal

Order of the Crested Crane insignia with computer-generated picture of sash colors

All pictures are courtesy of our official supplier, Unique Jewelry and Regalia of El Paso, Texas.

 

 Article 63

Style of the Chevalier/Dame

 

A recipient at the rank of Grand Cross is entitled to the style of “Son Excellency”. A recipient at the rank of Commander is entitled to the style of “L’honorable”.

 

Article 64

 Title and Address

 

The title and honour of Chevalier is granted to all male members of the Order whether Grand Cross or Commander. Similarly, the title and honour of Dame is granted to all female members of the Order whether Grand Cross or Commander. This Order confers nobility upon the member. The post-nominal for Grand Cross recipients of the Order is “GCCCR”. This stands for [G]rand [C]ross of the [C]rested [C]rane of [R]wanda. The post-nominal for a Commander recipient of the Order is “CCCR”. This stands for [C]ommander of the [C]rested [C]rane of [R]wanda. Therefore, the full name, title, and style of a male holder of the Grand Cross rank is “Son Excellence Chevalier First Name Middle Name Second Middle Name [if any] Surname, GCCCR”. The full name, title, and style of a male holder of the Commander rank is “L’honorable Chevalier First Name Middle Name Second Middle Name [if any] Surname, CCCR”. Similarly, the full name, title, and style of a female holder of the Grand Cross rank is “Son Excellence Dame First Name Middle Name Second Middle Name [if any] Surname, GCCCR”. The full name, title, and style of a female holder of the Commander rank is “L’honorable Dame First Name Middle Name Second Middle Name [if any] Surname, CCCR”. If the Letters Patent for a particular recipient contains a different style, title, and address than the above, the Letters Patent will triumph only for that particular recipient.

 

Article 65

 Regalia of Order

 

Recipients at the rank of Grand Cross are entitled to a breast star approximately 85 millimeters wide that is a circular star of curved silver (Argent) rays. On an eight-pointed gold (Or) star with fusils enameled green (Vert) with gold (Or) ball finials surmounting the silver (Argent) rays, stylized gold (Or) letters “K” (for Kigeli) are positioned in the angles of the eight-pointed star. In the center of the star is a roundel enameled white (Argent) charged with a crested crane proper facing sinister with two five-pointed gold (Or) stars on the left of the crane and one five-pointed gold (Or) star on the right.  The roundel is edged with a band of red (Gules) enamel inscribed “ORDER OF THE CRESTED CRANE” and “RWANDA” in gold (Or) lettering. The band is edged in gold (Or). Individuals at the Grand Cross rank are also entitled to a sash of the Order. The sash is 100 millimeters wide for males, while females have an option of the 100 millimeter wide sash or else a 50 millimeter wide version. The sash is worn over the right shoulder and it rests on the left hip. The sash of the Order is yellow (Or) with a broad blue (Azure) stripe near each edge. Each blue (Azure) stripe is flanked by two red (Gules) stripes. The sash has an insignia of the Order. This insignia is an eight-pointed gold (Or) star with fusils enameled green (Vert) with gold (Or) ball finials. Stylized gold (Or) letters “K” (for Kigeli) are positioned in the angles of the eight-pointed star. In the center of the star is a roundel enameled white (Argent) charged with a crested crane proper facing sinister with two five-pointed gold (Or) stars on the left of the crane and one five-pointed gold (Or) star on the right. The roundel is edged with a band of red (Gules) enamel inscribed “ORDER OF THE CRESTED CRANE” and “RWANDA” in gold (Or) lettering. The band is edged in gold (Or). The whole star is suspended by the Crown of Rwanda proper. The insignia is 80 millimeters wide from left to right.

 

Recipients at the rank of Commander are entitled to a breast star approximately 85 millimeters wide that is a circular star of curved silver (Argent) rays. On an eight-pointed gold (Or) star with fusils enameled green (Vert) with gold (Or) ball finials surmounting the silver (Argent) rays, stylized gold (Or) letters “K” (for Kigeli) are positioned in the angles of the eight-pointed star. In the center of the star is a roundel enameled white (Argent) charged with a crested crane proper facing sinister with two five-pointed gold (Or) stars on the left of the crane and one five-pointed gold (Or) star on the right. The roundel is edged with a band of red (Gules) enamel inscribed “ORDER OF THE CRESTED CRANE” and “RWANDA” in gold (Or) lettering. The band is edged in gold (Or).


 

Article 66

 Courtesy Spousal Title and Courtesy Titles for Children

 

There is no courtesy title for the lawful spouse or children of a member of the Order. However, the lawful spouse of a member of the Order is noble for as long as the spouse is married to the member or is the widow/widower of the same. Yet, the children of the member are not noble.

 

Article 67

 Passage of Title and Honour

 

The titles and honours of the de jure Kingdom of Rwanda may only pass to another person in strict accordance with this document. They cannot be sold, transferred, or otherwise altered. If a grant of the Order is hereditary, the Letters Patent and it alone will state it. Unless the Letters Patent for a particular grantee specifically stipulates another method of transmission, the default method of transmission is bloodline absolute primogeniture springing solely from the original grantee. That is, the honour and title  of Chevalier or Dame will only pass from a current substantive title-holder to the eldest child of the title- holder (or the next in line to the title and honour if there are no living descendants of the current title-holder but there are living collateral descendants elsewhere who spring from the original grantee of the noble title and honour) upon the death of the current title-holder, unless the current title-holder renounces the honour in accordance with Article 68. There may only be one inheritor of the title and honour at any time.  The rank within the Order will be retained by transmission. Said another way, a member of the rank of Grand Cross who passes the title and honour to an heir will have the heir also be at the rank of Grand Cross. Similarly, a member of the rank of Commander who passes the title and honour to an heir will have the heir also be at the rank of Commander.

 

Written notice of each transfer of the title and honour should be made to the current Head of the Rwandan Royal House so that good record-keeping is maintained and registration occurs of the new holder of the title and honour. A small registration fee might be necessary to record this transfer. However, title passage will occur without the need for official blessing by a future Head of the Rwandan Royal House. For example, if a title holder dies, his heir according to either the individualized Letters Patent or this document immediately becomes the next holder of the title and honour. This ensures the smooth and immediate transmission of the title and honour. But notification to the Royal House is required after transmission so that proper record keeping can be maintained. If more than 100 years passes after a legitimate transfer of a title and honour and the Royal Rwandan House has not received notification and recorded the transmission, the title and honour becomes extinct and reverts back to the Royal Rwandan House. Only if the Head of the Royal Rwandan House then regrants the title and honour can it be restored after 100 years of lack of registration after it legitimately transfers.

 

In the event that the descendant lines of the original grantee of the noble title and honour all fail – that is, that each line eventually has no bloodline heirs left – the title will become extinct, as all possible heirs have died out. Similarly, the title becomes dormant if no person has claimed the title or no claim has been satisfactorily proven. A period of 100 years of dormancy results in the dissolution of the title with no restoration possible except for an explicit new grant from the Head of the Rwandan Royal House. In the event of a dispute regarding who is the true inheritor of the title and honour, the current Head of the Rwandan Royal House has ultimate jurisdiction as to the rightful holder of the title. Note, for purposes of this document, the word bloodline heir means all issue (descendants), not just the immediate children of the original Chevalier or Dame.

 

In the event that an inheritor of the title and honour resides in a domicile/jurisdiction/state/country of residence that prohibits the use of titles and honours at the time of receiving the title, or a current Chevalier or Dame moves into such a domicile/jurisdiction/state/country of residence, the title becomes honorary solely to allow the grantee to not violate the law in the place of residence. However, this honorary state exists and accords the Chevalier or Dame all rights accorded a non-honorary substantive title and honour. Put another way, the honorary title and honour are honorary in name only, but the title and honour still are substantive in the de jure Kingdom of Rwanda.  This state of the noble title and honour being honorary will exist until the current Chevalier or Dame moves into another domicile/jurisdiction/state/country of residence that recognizes titles and honours, the domicile/jurisdiction/state/country of residence changes its stance on titles and honours, or a new inheritor, residing in another domicile/jurisdiction/state/country of residence has a claim to the title through the previous title-holder dying or renouncing the honour. Under no circumstances is the title and honour of a hereditary Chevalier or Dame considered extinct until all possible heirs to it have died out. A foreign government cannot extinguish this title and honour as the title falls under the legal jurisdiction and protection of the de jure Kingdom of Rwanda.

 

Article 68

 Renunciation of Title

 

The title and honour may be renounced by the current Chevalier or Dame at any time and for any cause. The renunciation must be in writing and witnessed by two individuals not related to the current Chevalier or Dame. Both witnesses should sign and date the renunciation along with the renouncing Chevalier or Dame, and the document should be delivered to the current Head of the Royal House of Rwanda. Upon signing, the title and honour of Chevalier or Dame will pass by the rules of Article 67 as if the renouncing Chevalier or Dame died. Thus, a renunciation of the title and honour does not dissolve it; the title and honour merely passes to the next lawful recipient under Article 67 or the Letters Patent of the original grantee. Per Article 67, only an extinction of the title and honour by the death or renunciation of all bloodline descendants springing from the original grantee, or all eligible recipients outlined in a specific Letters Patent if the specific Letters Patent outlines a different mode of title transmission, can effectively end its existence.

 

Article 69

 Armorial Achievement

 

Heraldry is not a significant part of the historic cultural tradition of Rwanda, but there are some precedents. For example, His Majesty King Kigeli V has a heraldic achievement with a Bantu-style shield. The  coronet  for  a  Chevalier  or  Dame  will  be  an  Or coronet surmounted by eight balls of pearl. The band of the coronet will display white and blue beading similar to the Crown of Rwanda. The heraldic representation for the Chevalier or Dame coronet will be:


 

Grantees and inheritors of the title and honour may display their heraldry with a Bantu- style shield or else a heater-style shield, the above coronet, a helm, a torse, mantling, and supporters or a combination of these. Recipients of the Order at any rank may, but are not required to, also display a crested crane on his or her escutcheon or crest. A crested crane may also be used as a heraldic supporter.

 

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