The Royal and Hashemite Order of the Pearl is the dynastic order of the Royal House of Sulu. It is the the premier body and grandest honour of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. The order is an honourable and nobiliary entity that has been instituted as a dynastic Order of Datuship equivalent to the traditional dynastic orders of chivalry. The order continues the traditional customs and magnificence of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu and the Sultan’s Royal Court. His Royal Majesty Ampun Sultan Hadji Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, as Head of the Royal House of Sulu, is the hereditary sovereign who possesses the fons honorum and is the Grand Sayyid (Grand Master) of the order.
The Order respects all religions and ethnicities. It focuses on charitable and non-political activities except where the sovereign rights and prerogatives of His Royal Majesty and the Royal Sultanate of Sulu are concerned.
Affirmation of the Order has been declared by The Augustan Society, an international organization founded in 1957 composed of scholars in the fields of chivalry, genealogy, heraldry, nobility and royalty. His Royal Majesty has also been acknowledged by the Associazione Insigniti Onorificenze Cavalleresche (Association of Chivalric Honors), a partner of the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry.
History of the Order
The Royal and Hashemite Order of the Pearl of Sulu was formally established by a Royal Decree in 2011, by the Sultan, exercising his de jure sovereign right as a fons honorum (font of honor) to institute it. It is, however, a Royal Order whose roots run very deep. When the current Sultan of Sulu, at the time Raja Muda the Crown Prince decided to establish an Order of Companions to meet today’s national and international expectations, he sought to unite different elements of the royal, nobiliary and chivalrous traditions of the Sultanate in its values, constitution and design. The Sultan is the Grand Sayyid of the order, and his heirs and successors, as subsequent Heads of the Royal House of Sulu, will be the hereditary Grand Sayyids of the Order.
Almost from the beginning of human civilization, the pearl has represented something very precious, but at the same time something sophisticated and rare. The symbolism of the pearl is very significant. It is mentioned in many ancient writings and the sacred books of many great world religions, including Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. For centuries, pearl harvesting was vital to the economy of the Sultanate. Only the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo had the right to possess the largest and most valuable pearls found in the archipelago.
The term “Hashemite” in the title of the Order has its roots in the very foundations of the Kiram dynasty. The term refers to the ancient Arab clan Hashemites, descendants of Hashim. Hashemites are descendants of the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali. Descendants of Fatima and Ali carry the honorary titles Sayyid (master) and the Sharif (noble).
On the insignia of the Order (collar, badges, stars, rosettes, and miniatures) are elements of the Coat of Arms of the Sultanate of Sulu: double saber, pearl, crescent, star, and crown. Besides the crescent and star, which are clearly associated with the Islamic tradition of the Sultanate, one of the most significant parts of the design of the insignia is represented by a double saber. It symbolises the legendary bifurcated (double) saber or sword of Ali, given to him by his father-in-law, the Prophet Muhammad.
The privilege of Membership is conferred, at the Sultan’s pleasure, upon those who have performed worthy and meritorious service in support of the Royal House of Sulu. It is also conferred upon those of any nationality whom, in any field of endeavour, have become distinguished and respected figures of international renown and are deemed worthy of such recognition.
The insignia for the different grades of the Royal Order are exclusively worn by members in formal activities.
Order of Wear
Notable Members of the Order
- Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza of Portugal
- King Yuhi VI Bushayija of Rwanda
- King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa of Rwanda
- Archduke Josef Karl von Habsburg of Austria
- King William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV of Busoga-Uganda
- King Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Iguru I of Bunyoro-Kitara-Uganda
- Prince Davit Bagrationi Mukhrani Batonishvili of Georgia
- Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie of Ethiopia
- Prince Alexandar Pavlov Karageorgevich of Serbia and Yugoslavia
- Prince Karl Vladimir Karageorgevich of Serbia and Yugoslavia
- Princess Jelisaveta Karageorgevich of Serbia and Yugoslavia
- Princess Brigitta Karageorgevich of Serbia and Yugoslavia
- Princess Margaret of Hohenberg
- Princess Owana Salazar of Hawaii
- Crown Prince Kalokuokamaile III of Hawaii
- Prince Osman Rifat Ibrahim of Egypt
- Princess Mahera Hassan of Afghanistan
- Princess Luciana Pallavicini Hassan of Afghanistan
- Prince Mohsin Ali Khan of Hyderabad
- Prince Maurizio Ferrante Gonzaga, Marquis of Vescovato, Marquis of Vodice
- Duke Don Diego de Vargas Machuca, Marquis of Vatolla
- Prince Guglielmo Giovanelli Marconi of the Princes Giovanelli
- Lord Abdul Mateen Pelham, 8th Earl of Yarborough
- President Lech Walesa of Poland
- Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, 15th Baron of Cartsburn
- Michel Teillard d’Eyry of the International Academy for Genealogy
- Michael Medvedev of the Heraldic Council of the President of Russia
- Stanislav Dumin, Master Herald of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia
- Ambassador Paolo Borin of the Sovereign Miltary Order of Malta
- Consul Philippe May of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Singapore
Members of the Order have specific heraldic regulations related to how to display their insignia with their coat of arms. Permission to display their insignia is granted via the office of the Gateway Chronicler King of Arms that also regulates all heraldry for the Royal House of Sulu.
The rules are as follows:
- Members of the paramount class of the Pearl Collar may encircle their arms with the Collar of the Order. If, for some exceptional reasons, the specific oval badge and riband of this grade are displayed instead of the Collar, a golden flame may be added above the badge.
- Members of the class of the Grand Cordon may adorn their shield with the Order’s crowned badge and display the riband of the Order fastened with a bow from which the badge is suspended, whereas the riband may encircle the shield either completely or partially.
- Members of the class of the Distinguished Companion may adorn their shield with the Order’s crowned badge and display the ribbon of the Order, each half displayed separately, whereas the ribbon may encircle the shield either completely or partially. The ribbon may be shown with loose ends issuant from behind the shield and may display a flame above the insignia and is entitled to the Order’s star.
- Members of the class of the Companion may adorn their shield with the Order’s crowned badge and display the ribbon of the Order, each half displayed separately, whereas the ribbon may encircle the shield either completely or partially. The ribbon may be shown with loose ends issuant from behind the shield. Membership in this grade does not entitle members to supporters.
- Members of the class of the Officer may adorn their shield with the Order’s crowned badge and display the ribbon of the Order, one half displayed covering the other. The ribbon is issuant from beneath the shield with optionally loose ends shown issuant from behind the shield. Optionally, the buckle may be shown above the ribbon. Membership in this grade does not entitle members to supporters.
- Members of the class of the Member may adorn their shield with the Order’s uncrowned badge and display the ribbon of the Order, one half displayed covering the other. The ribbon is issuant from beneath the shield with optionally loose ends shown issuant from behind the shield. Optionally, the buckle may be shown above the ribbon. Membership in this grade does not entitle members to supporters.
- The two senior most ranks are entitled to supporters in a way of grant or of certification. A widow of a Companion who did not obtain supporters but was entitled to them, may apply in his name.