As Sovereign, Her Majesty The Queen is considered font of all honour in the United Kingdom. She has ultimate authority over issuing honours and titles to citizens. Several of the most notable orders of chivalry are now issued on the advise of the government and with the consent of the Her Majesty.
In this week’s feature article, we explore just what needs to be done to receive an honour from Her Majesty The Queen.
Firstly, honours are not just given out to anyone who asks for them, one must have had to do something worthy of an honour from the Crown. Charity work is a favourite for lower honours (e.g. MBE) and high-profile government or local work is more likely to be Knighthood.
The way the honours system works, the very nature of it is to discover unsung talents and people who deserve recognition but wouldn’t otherwise get it.
So the first step to receiving your crown honour is to perform some notable work. Here is a list of the most common professions and roles that receive Crown honours:
- arts and media
- science and technology
- economy (including business etc)
- community, voluntary and local services
- state (including civil service, politicians etc)
The crown honours website lists multiple criteria which, if met, usually warrant a crown honour, they are:
- making a difference to their community or field of work
- enhancing Britain’s reputation
- long-term voluntary service
- innovation and entrepreneurship
- changing things, with an emphasis on achievement
- improving life for people less able to help themselves
- displaying moral courage and vision in making and delivering tough choices
Types Of Honour
The type of honour one would receive is based upon two things. Firstly, your field of work and what you’ve done. For example, if you’ve personally served The Royal Household, you’re likely to receive an honour from the Royal Victorian Order, if you’ve been involved in notable charity work, the most likely order is the Order Of The British Empire. Secondly, they decide what rank you should be admitted to the order at, again depending on the level of your work. Below is a table which shows the orders of chivalry available to civilians and what ranks there are.
|Order Of The British Empire||The Royal Victorian Order|
|KNIGHTHOOD||Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GBE)||Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GCVO)|
|KNIGHTHOOD||Knight/Dame Commander (KBE/DBE)||Knight/Dame Commander (KCVO/DCVO)|
|Commander (CBE)||Commander (CVO)|
|Officer (OBE)||Lieutenant (LVO)|
|Member (MBE)||Member (MVO)|
The above are the two orders of chivalry that are regularly constituted on civilians, there are also lesser honours that are awarded such as the British Empire Medal (BEM) and the Imperial Service Medal (ISM) which are awarded for services to certain industries. The ISM is awarded to civil servants (any civil servant) who has completed 25 years or more service.
One can also be made a Knight Bachelor which allows someone to use the title of ‘Sir’ but without being attached to any specific order. Only men can receive this honour – there’s no equivalent for women.
The next stage up from a medal and then admission to an order of chivalry is a peerage. Peerages are given to those with specialist knowledge and who have something to offer in the process of making laws for this country.
Only life peers are now created so their title can’t be inherited. It allows the holder to use the title of either The Right Honourable Baron x of y (where x represents surname and y represents place name) or The Right Honourable Baroness x of y if female. These are often abbreviated to Lord X and Baroness X.
These honours are conferred through a special peerages committee who decide who should receive a peerage as as a peer, they play an important role in helping create laws for the United Kingdom with their specialist knowledge and sit in the House Of Lords.
So, in order of precedence, Medal -> Order Of Chivalry -> Peerage
In order to become any of the aforementioned, one must be nominated by a third party. The application form for this is available on the crown honours website, click here to see it. Once the recommender submits the application, it will be reviewed and researched by the crown honours committee who will decide suitability for an honour. No one will be notified if the application is rejected for an honour and after 2 years, if the applicant hasn’t heard anything, they can reapply.
It is important, according to the crown honours website, not to inform the nominee of their nomination for an honour as it would be unfair to get their hopes up. If the committee do decide the nominee deserves an honour, they will first write to them asking if they would accept an honour, if offered. By asking them if they’d accept, they are allowing a get out clause that doesn’t look like they’re refusing the Queen if they refuse an honour as, technically, the honour hasn’t been offered yet.
If they accept, arrangements will be made to present the nominee with their honour.