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Cross "For the Accession of Prince Ferdinand I in 1887"

Date established: 21st December 1887/ 2nd January 1888

Number of classes: three

Being awarded for: various criteria

Shape and dimensions: Maltese cross with beaded points, circular centre and fleurs-de-lis in between the arms. 41mm in length.

Ribbon: three light-green and two white equally-sized stripes alternating.

Obverse: 1st class: Gilded Maltese cross. The central medallion is circular, enamelled in red, with the royal cypher of Prince Ferdinand I enamelled in white and crowned with a gilded crown. On the green-enamelled outer ring of the central medallion, the following gilded text appears: “БОЖИЯ И НАРОДНА ВОЛЯ“ / translation: By the will of God and nation /, the first word being separated from the rest via a five-pointed star on either sides. The 2nd class represents the same cross but without any enamel on the central medallion. 3rd class resembles the 2nd class, but instead of gilded is silvered.

Reverse: 1st class: Gilded Maltese cross. Circular central medallion, enamelled in the form and colours of the Saxon coat of arms (black and golden horizontal stripes and green diagonal crown), with the outer ring enamelled in green with inscribed “25 ЮЛIЙ 2 АВГУСТЪ 1887” / translation: 25th July 2nd August 1887 / in gilded Slavonic script, the year being separated from the rest via a five-pointed star. 2nd and 3rd class are similar, but lack the enamel coating. The former is gilded and the latter is silvered.

Soon after His arrival to Bulgaria, the newly elected Prince Ferdinand I created the first decoration during his reign – a medal to commemorate His accession to the Throne. This new Bulgarian award, even though that it bears the features of a personal decoration, has actually been founded by a decree on behalf of the Council of ministers (Thus, in conflict with the Constitution).

The symbolism of the features of the cross are more than clear. The Saxon shield on the reverse indicates the dynastical background of the new Monarch while the Maltese cross with lilies is an allusion to His French royal bloodline (being a grandson of the last French King) and Order of the Holy Spirit in particular. Lastly, the colours of the ribbon are a direct reference to the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha duchy.

The cross has been awarded more than 2000 times, according to the registers. The recipients of this decoration varied – from low ranking clerks and NCO’s, through local mayors, senior officers and archbishops, to ministers, generals, foreign nationals and royalties. Of course, all of the decorations have been done with protocol in mind, which applies non-official rules as to which class can be presented to its recipient, according to his/her position within society.

The cross was suspended from a triangular ribbon when awarded to men and from a bow-shaped ribbon when presented to ladies.

The cross has been manufactured by C. F. Rothe in Vienna, which is confirmed by the outstanding quality of the awards. Officially, there’s only one issue of this award, though there’s a variation which features an extra clover leaf on the Saxon crown on the reverse of the cross, totalling five, instead of the usual four.