The Royal and Hashemite Order of the Pearl is the dynastic order of the Royal House of Sulu, which serves as the premier institution and the highest personal honour of and in the Royal Sultanate of Sulu. The order is an honourable and nobiliary corporation instituted as a dynastic Order of Datuship analogous to traditional dynastic orders of chivalry, and is in direct continuation from the ancient customs and distinctions of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu and the Court of the Sultan. Ampun Sultan Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram, as Head of the Royal House of Sulu, is the hereditary sovereign who processes the fons honorum and Grand Sayyid of the order.
The Order is interdenominational and its focus is charitable and non-political except in so far as the sovereign rights and prerogatives of HM.
Foundation of the Order
The Royal and Hashemite Order of the Pearl of Sulu was formally established by a Royal Decree in June 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 Rajamuda the Crown Prince in 2011 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 (Grand Master) 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 may also be 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.
Grades of the Order
The Royal Order is awarded by the Sultan in six grades with the following post-nominal letters. Moving for the most senior to the most junior grade they are:
- Royal Companion (RCPS)
- Grand Cordon (GCPS)
- Distinguished Companion (DCPS)
- Companion (CPS)
- Officer (OPS)
- Member (MPS)
The insignia for the different grades of the Royal Order are illustrated on the maker’s website.
Order of Wear
Notable Members of the Order
- Hussin U. Amin, Mayor of Jolo
- Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza
- Archduke Josef Karl von Habsburg
- Princess Margaret of Hohenberg
- 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 Luciana Pallavicini Hassan of Afghanistan
- Crown Prince Davit Bagrationi Mukhran Batonishvili of Georgia
- Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, Imperial Prince of Ethiopia
- Princess Mahera Hassan of Afghanistan
- Prince Osman Rifat Ibrahim
- Prince Mohsin Ali Khan of Hyderabad
- The Rt Hon the Earl of Yarborough, Abdul Mateen Pelham
- Noble Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti
- Reverend Professor Noel Cox
- Lech Wałęsa
- Michel Teillard d’Eyry
- HE Don Guglielmo Giovanelli Marconi of the Princes Giovanelli
- Prof. Alessio Cassinelli Lavezzo
- Principe Don Alberto Giovanelli
- Dr Craig Paterson
- Crown Prince Kalokuokamaile III of Hawaii
- Don Diego de Vargas-Machuca, Marquis of Vatolla
- Marquis Don Maurizio Ferrante Gonzaga del Vodice di Vescovato
- Michael Y. Medvedev
- Count Stanislav Vladimirovich Dumin
- Datu Cheong Ming Lam
- Barone Angelo Musa
- Nobile Min. Plen. Roberto Saccarello
- Amb. Paolo Borin
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.