The Order of the White Lion is the highest order of the Czech Republic, which continues a Czechoslovak order of the same name created in 1922 as an award for foreigners (Czechoslovakia had no decoration for its citizens in 1920s and 1930s).
The order was created as an award for merits for the Czechoslovakia for foreign citizens. The Order was established in five classes and two divisions, civil (with two crossed palms above the badge) and military (with two crossed swords above the badge). The numbers of recipients had been limited, but limits were changed during following years. The Statutes of the order were amended in 1924, 1930 and 1936. There were medals in gold and silver.
The badge of the Order was five arms red enameled star, ends with small balls, between the arms are leaflets. In middle of the star is silver lion from national Coat of Arms. The reverse or the Star is red enameled with Coat of Arms of the former parts of Czechoslovakia (Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia).
Order was remodeled after change of official name of Czechoslovakia and change national arms. It was issued new regulative for Order and was divided only into three classes.
Classes were I. as highest, II. and III. Collar was reserved only for foreign heads of state.
The Order of the White Lion continued to exist until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
In 1994 it was re-established as the highest decoration of the Czech Republic; unlike in the past, it is now awarded by the President of the Czech Republic to both the Czech citizens and to foreigners for outstanding services to the Czech Republic. It is issued in five classes with the fifth and fourth classes presented as crosses, the third class awarded as an order that is worn around the neck, the second class as an order that is worn around the neck with chest star, and the first class as a grand cross (sash with badge and star).
The supreme grade of the Order of the White Lion, the first class accompanied by a gold neck chain may only be awarded to Heads of State. By law, the President is entitled to the first class insignia including the chain; after leaving the office, it may be conferred upon him for life by a joint resolution of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.