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The National Orders are part of the Orders of Merit, which were established by the Belgian State for the benefit of the citizens.
There are three National Orders:
1° The Order of Leopold
This was established by the Law of 11 July 1832, supplemented by the Law of 28 December 1838 and the Royal Decrees of 3 August 1832 and 16 May 1839.
It is the oldest and most important national order in Belgium and is usually awarded to people with a certain status who have had a long career or for special merit.
2° The Order of the Crown
This was established by the decrees of 15 October 1897 and 25 June 1898.
It is awarded for artistic, literary or scientific merit, or to persons who have promoted the commercial and industrial interests of the country, or who have rendered services to the country.
3° The Order of Leopold II
This was established by the decree of 24 August 1900 and has been part of the Belgian system of orders and distinctions since 1908.
It is awarded for services to the King or the Royal Family, or as recognition for a certain number of years of service.
The orders are divided into the ranks of Knight, Officer, Commander and Grand Officer, and into the titles Grand Cross in the Order of Leopold and in the Order of the Crown, as well as the Grand Ribbon in the Order of Leopold. There are also Palms and Medals.
Over the years, the differences between the Orders have practically disappeared. There is a combined hierarchy between the orders within which promotions are awarded.