The original purpose of the Order was to recognize meritorious civil and military service to the Emperor and the French Protectorate. It was decreed on December 5, 1899 by the Emperor Thanh Thai (1889-1907), to be effective from May 1, 1900, that when awarded by the President of France the award would have a distinct ribbon.
In modern times, the Order has taken on the guise as recognition for acts of charity focused on humanitarian aid and assistance to underprivileged Vietnamese both home and abroad.
The Order is awarded in the traditional five Western classes: Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight. The Emperor, alone, can wear the Grand Cross in tandem with the Knight's badge. The original Grand Officer badges were awarded on a cravat, but were later changed to a plaque or breast star.
Emperor Bao Dai (1926-1945). He later
returned to serve as Chief of State (1949-1955)