At the weekend I handled part of the regalia of an existing Knight of The Golden Fleece. I was interested as the Great Duke was often painted more often than not wearing the Order at his neck. But I learnt that it is quite complicated as there are two orders an older and original order from Austria and a junior order in Spain. The order I examined at the weekend was an Austrian one but the Duke was invested with the Spanish order in 1812, by the acting government of Spain. It was later confirmed by Ferdinand on his resumption of power, with the approval of the Pope.
Wellington therefore became the first Protestant to be honoured with the Golden Fleece. In the portrait by Thomas Phillips in 1814 the decoration is clearly seen. Interestingly Napoleon honoured himself with the same order. Not surprisingly it was a controversial issue as it was bestowed whilst Spain was occupied by the French. This angered the exiled King of France Louis XVIII and caused him to return his collar in protest. This, and other awards by Joseph, were revoked by King Ferdinand on the restoration of Bourbon rule in 1813. I can find no painting of Napoleon wearing the order