The Grand Cross

Grand Cross with Oakleaves
This special class of Pour le Mérite was established by King Wilhelm I on 18 September 1866 and was only awarded to five people. After Wilhelm I died, the Grand Cross was never awarded again. "The Grand Cross badge consisted of a larger cross worn suspended from the neck on the standard ribbon. A companion breast star was worn on the left breast."*

The Grand Cross is described as being twice the size of the normal Pour le Mérite medallion with a bust portrait of Friedrich the Great at its center. This star medallion on the breast has only four points and looks like a rotated square with sun beam styled rays coming from a center area on which the portrait of Friedrich is located.

"The whereabouts of the orginal Grand Cross sets is unknown. It is presumed some may still be in the possession of the Hohenzollern family. Moltke's orders were destroyed in the bombings of World War II."*
*from David Edkins The Prussian Orden Pour le Mérite
Grand Cross Star with Oakleaves

List of Grand Cross recipients

King of Prussia Wilhelm I -- 11 November 1866

Crown Prince of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm -- 1 September 1873

Prince of Prussia Friedrich Karl -- 1 September 1873

Emperor of Russia Alexander II -- 24 April 1878

Field Marshal Hellmuth von Moltke -- 8 March 1879

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Oak Leaves
Medals that are often mistaken with the Pour le Mérite