Mr. President of the French Republic, we recognize you as Grand Master of the National Order of the Legion of Honor
With this ritual sentence spoken by the Grand Chancellor at the ceremony of investiture, the French President becomes the highest authority of the Legion of Honor for the duration of his term in office, after receiving the insignia of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor and the Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit, honors conferred upon him ex officio.
Following an immutable protocol, the Grand Chancellor symbolically presents the President with the insignia of his function, the Grand Master’s collar, which after the ceremony returns to its place among the exhibits of the Museum of the Legion of Honor.
Yet the Grand Master’s role is more than symbolic: he is above all the supreme protector of the national Orders, the Legion of Honor and the National Order of Merit.
The Grand Master’s responsibilities
- The Grand Master has the final say on all issues concerning the national Orders, and in particular he signs the decrees that formalize nominations and promotions.
- He personally awards the insignia of the Grand Cross and Grand Officer of the national Orders to dignitaries who so desire. He also decorates certain French or foreign personalities in the reception rooms of the Elysée Palace.
- At official ceremonies at Les Invalides, the Grand Master awards the insignia of the Legion of Honor, the Military Medal and the National Order of Merit to those in the armed forces and, posthumously to those who have died while serving.
- The French Head of State sets the annual quotas for admission and promotion in the Legion of Honor for a three-year term.
- He decides personally on Legion of Honor and National Order of Merit awards to foreign Heads of State.
- Upon a request from the Council of the Order, he takes the final decision on the suspension or exclusion of any member who has been convicted in a criminal court or who has committed a dishonorable action.
- Lastly, the Grand Master appoints the Grand Chancellor and the members of the councils of both Orders.