Being the recipient of an honor entails few material rights and many moral duties. The commitment is above all civic and ethical
1. Rights of honorees
- The wearing of insignia
The right to wear insignia is the main privilege conferred by the award of a French decoration.
- The insignia of the two national Orders (Legion of Honor and National Order of Merit) may be worn only after the official ceremony conferring the decoration and the signing of the official report.
Seniority in rank and the possibility of promotion to the next rank are taken into account from that date forward.
- The other French decorations may be worn as soon as the decree or order making the award official is published.
- French nationals who are awarded a foreign decoration must request and receive the permission of the Grand Chancellor before they accept it and wear it.
Wearing a French or foreign decoration illegally is punishable under the Penal Code by a sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros.
- Written mention
The decoration may be mentioned after the person’s name on civil status documents issued after the award of the decoration, administrative acts, police records, judgments and as a general rule on any correspondence or document with no commercial purpose.
The holders of Grand Officer and Grand Cross titles of the Legion of Honor are entitled to military funeral honors at their funerals.
For active duty military personnel and veterans with war records, nomination or promotion in the Legion of Honor may entail a symbolic sum, which is a legacy of history.
By way of example, for the Legion of Honor, the annual stipend ranges from 6.10 euros for a Knight to 36.59 euros for a Grand Cross.
For the same historical reasons, every Military Medal holder is entitled to a stipend that amounts to 4.57 euros per year.
- School (maisons d’éducation) admissions
Daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters of members of the national Orders and the Military Medal have the opportunity to study in the maisons d’éducation de la Légion d’honneur, corresponding to the lower- and upper-level secondary schools of the public education system.
Daughters and granddaughters of foreign recipients of the Legion of Honor can also study in these two institutions.
Admission is highly selective, the number of places is limited and only part of the applications can be accepted.
2. Duties of honorees
The sense of belonging to an order, which requires its members to comply with certain rules of conduct and etiquette, is a tacit commitment to which all honorees must submit.
Any dishonorable action committed by an honoree is likely to result in disciplinary sanction. There are three sanctions, in order of increasing severity:
- Suspension, of a duration depending on the severity of the fault
- Final exclusion, which is automatic in case of criminal conviction or a firm prison sentence of more than a year.
The last two sanctions are imposed by the President of the Republic and published in the Official Journal.
For foreigners, the sanction is a measure withdrawing the decoration taken by decree.
3. Rules for wearing insignia
The decoration is worn on the left-hand side of the chest according to a protocol defined by official documents and custom:
- Official and public ceremonies: the full insignia is worn as required by the rules (insignia in "hanging" form)
- Evening dress: for practical reasons, smaller insignia, exact replicas of the official insignia, may be worn. However, according to custom, decorations are worn only on suits, not on evening dress.
- Business attire (jacket): lapel insignia of the same color as the decoration may be worn —ribbons for Knights, rosettes for Officers, rosettes on half-knots for the other ranks and titles.
- Professional uniform (military uniform, legal and religious robes...): the insignia is replaced by a ribbon bar, potentially with the distinctive attributes of a rank or title in the center.
- Obviously, one must preserve the dignity of decorations and refrain from displaying them on casual or sports wear.
According to the order of precedence:
The Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honor has sole authority to set the order of the wearing of official French decorations. The list he draws up obeys all the rules and is the sole document of reference.
The Legion of Honor is worn before any other French or foreign decoration.
Order of Liberation
National Order of Merit
Cross of War (1939-1945, TOE)
Croix de la valeur militaire (Cross for Military Valor)
Medal of the National Gendarmerie
Médaille de la résistance française (French resistance medal)
Ordre des Palmes académiques (Order of Academic Palms)
Order of Agricultural Merit
Ordre du Mérite maritime (Order of Maritime Merit)
Order of Arts and Letters
Médaille des évadés (Escapee’s medal)
Croix du combattant volontaire (Volunteer combatant cross): 1939-1945, Resistance, Indochina, Korea, AFN (North Africa)
Médaille de l’aéronautique (Aeronautical Medal)
Croix du combattant (Combatant cross)
Médaille de la reconnaissance française (Medal of French Gratitude)
Overseas Medal (formerly Colonial Medal)
Médaille de la défense nationale (National Defense Medal)
Médaille des services militaires volontaires (Medal for voluntary military service)
Medals of honor of the ministries
North Africa Medal and Medal of the Nation’s Gratitude
Commemorative medals and equivalent