Order of the Companions of Honour

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Order of the Companions of Honour
Companion of Honour.jpg
Riband and badge of the "Companions of Honour"
Awarded by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms
Type Order
Established4 June 1917
MottoIn Action Faithful and in Honour Clear
Awarded forNationally important service
StatusCurrently constituted
Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II
GradesCompanion (CH)
Order of the Companions of Honour Ribbon.gif
Ribbon bar of the order
Lord Tweedsmuir, as Governor General of Canada, wearing the Companion of Honour badge around his neck Btweedsmuir2.jpg
Lord Tweedsmuir, as Governor General of Canada, wearing the Companion of Honour badge around his neck

The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded on 4 June 1917 by King George V as a reward for outstanding achievements and is "conferred upon a limited number of persons for whom this special distinction seems to be the most appropriate form of recognition, constituting an honour disassociated either from the acceptance of title or the classification of merit." [1]

Commonwealth realm Sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II or her successors as its monarch

A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in which Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning constitutional monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent co-equal kingdom from the other realms. As of 2019, there are 16 Commonwealth realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom. All 16 Commonwealth realms are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states. Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.


Founded on the same date as the Order of the British Empire, [1] it is sometimes regarded as the junior order to the Order of Merit. [2] Now described as "awarded for having a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time", [3] the first recipients were all decorated for "services in connection with the war" and were listed in The London Gazette . [4] The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court is now the Chapel of the Order. [5]

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Order of Merit Dynastic order recognising distinguished service with the Commonwealth

The Order of Merit is an order of merit recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII, admission into the order remains the personal gift of its Sovereign—currently Edward VII's great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II—and is restricted to a maximum of 24 living recipients from the Commonwealth realms, plus a limited number of honorary members. While all members are awarded the right to use the post-nominal letters OM and wear the badge of the order, the Order of Merit's precedence among other honours differs between countries.

<i>The London Gazette</i> journal of record of the British government

The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published. The London Gazette claims to be the oldest surviving English newspaper and the oldest continuously published newspaper in the UK, having been first published on 7 November 1665 as The Oxford Gazette. This claim is also made by the Stamford Mercury (1712) and Berrow's Worcester Journal (1690), because The Gazette is not a conventional newspaper offering general news coverage. It does not have a large circulation.


The order consists of the Sovereign and a maximum 65 members. Additionally, foreigners or Commonwealth citizens from outside the realms may be added as honorary members. Membership confers no title or precedence, but those inducted into the single-class order are entitled to use the post-nominal letters CH. Appointments can be made on the advice of Commonwealth realm prime ministers. [2] For Canadians, the advice to the Sovereign can come from a variety of officials. [6]

Order of precedence is a sequential hierarchy of nominal importance of persons. Most often it is used in the context of people by many organizations and governments, for very formal and state occasions, especially where diplomats are present. It can also be used in the context of decorations, medals and awards. Historically, the order of precedence had a more widespread use, especially in court and aristocratic life.

Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles or designatory letters, are letters placed after a person's name to indicate that the individual holds a position, academic degree, accreditation, office, military decoration, or honour, or is a member of a religious institute or fraternity. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters, but in some contexts it may be customary to limit the number of sets to one or just a few. The order in which post-nominals are listed after a name is based on rules of precedence and what is appropriate for a given situation. Post-nominal letters are one of the main types of name suffix. In contrast, pre-nominal letters precede the name rather than following it.

Originally, the order was limited to 50 ordinary members, but in 1943 it was enlarged to 65, with a quota of 45 members for the United Kingdom, seven for Australia, two each for New Zealand and South Africa, and nine for India, Burma, and the other British colonies. The quota numbers were altered in 1970 to 47 for the United Kingdom, seven for Australia, two for New Zealand, and nine for other Commonwealth realms. The quota was adjusted again in 1975 by adding two places to the New Zealand quota and reducing the nine for the other countries to seven. [7]

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. It has a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

While still able to nominate candidates to the Order, Australia has effectively stopped the allocation of this award to its citizens in preference to its national awards. Margaret MacMillan, a Canadian historian, was given the award in 2017. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, a New Zealand soprano, was given the award in 2018. Margaret Atwood, a Canadian author, was appointed in 2019.

Margaret MacMillan Canadian historian

Margaret Olwen MacMillan is a Canadian historian and professor at the University of Oxford. She is former provost of Trinity College and professor of history at the University of Toronto and previously at Ryerson University. A leading expert on history and international relations, MacMillan is a commentator in the media.

Kiri Te Kanawa New Zealand opera singer

Dame Kiri Jeanette Claire Te Kanawa is a New Zealand soprano. She has a full lyric soprano voice, which has been described as "mellow yet vibrant, warm, ample and unforced".

Margaret Atwood Canadian writer

Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher, and environmental activist. Since 1961, she has published seventeen books of poetry, sixteen novels, ten books of non-fiction, eight collections of short fiction, eight children's books, and one graphic novel, as well as a number of small press editions in poetry and fiction. Atwood and her writing have won numerous awards and honors including the Man Booker Prize, Arthur C. Clarke Award, Governor General's Award, Franz Kafka Prize, and the National Book Critics and PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Awards.


The insignia of the order is in the form of an oval medallion, surmounted by an imperial crown, and with a rectangular panel within, depicting on it an oak tree, a shield with the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom hanging from one branch, and, on the left, a mounted knight in armour. The insignia's blue border bears in gold letters the motto IN ACTION FAITHFUL AND IN HONOUR CLEAR, Alexander Pope's description (in iambic pentameter) in his Epistle to Mr Addison of James Craggs, later used on Craggs' monument in Westminster Abbey. Men wear the badge on a neck ribbon (red with golden border threads) and women on a bow at the left shoulder.

Crown (headgear) precious item of headwear, symbolizing the power of a ruler

A crown is a traditional symbolic form of headwear, not hat, worn by a monarch or by a deity, for whom the crown traditionally represents power, legitimacy, victory, triumph, honor, and glory, as well as immortality, righteousness, and resurrection. In art, the crown may be shown being offered to those on Earth by angels. Apart from the traditional form, crowns also may be in the form of a wreath and be made of flowers, oak leaves, or thorns and be worn by others, representing what the coronation part aims to symbolize with the specific crown. In religious art, a crown of stars is used similarly to a halo. Crowns worn by rulers often contain jewels.

Knight An award of an honorary title for past or future service with its roots in chivalry in the Middle Ages

A knight is a man granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch, bishop or other political or religious leader for service to the monarch or a Christian church, especially in a military capacity.

Alexander Pope English poet

Alexander Pope is regarded as one of the greatest English poets and the foremost poet the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry—to include The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism—as well as for his translation of Homer. After Shakespeare, Pope is the second most quoted writer in the English language, as per The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, with some of his verses having even become popular idioms in common parlance. He is considered a master of the heroic couplet.

Current Companions

Member number [n 1] NamePost-nominalsKnown forDate of appointmentAge
01 (237) Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg Sir Michael Somare GCL, GCMG, CH, PC Former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea 3 June 197883
02 (246) Flag of Australia (converted).svg Doug Anthony AC , CH , PC Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia 31 December 198189
03 (267) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Tebbit CH , PC Politician31 July 198788
04 (270) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Baker of Dorking CH , PC Politician13 April 199284
05 (271) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville CH , PC Politician13 April 199285
06 (278) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord King of Bridgwater CH , PC Politician13 April 199286
07 (282) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dame Janet Baker CH , DBE Opera singer31 December 199386
08 (287) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Owen CH , PC Politician11 June 199481
09 (289) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir David Attenborough OM , CH , CVO , CBE Broadcaster and naturalist30 December 199593
10 (291) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Hurd of Westwell CH , CBE , PC Politician30 December 199589
11 (294) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg David Hockney OM , CH Artist14 June 199782
12 (296) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Heseltine CH , PC Politician2 August 199786
13 (297) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Patten of Barnes CH , PC Politician and former Governor of Hong Kong 31 December 199775
14 (298) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Peter Brook CH , CBE Theatre director13 June 199894
15 (299) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir John Major KG , CH , PC Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 31 December 199876
16 (300) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Bridget Riley CH , CBE Artist31 December 199888
17 (305) Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg John de Chastelain CC , CMM , CD , CH Canadian general and diplomat31 December 199882
18 (311) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH Composer30 December 200085
19 (312) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Michael Howard OM , CH , CBE , MC , FBA Historian15 June 200296
20 (316) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg James Lovelock CH , CBE , FRS Scientist and environmentalist31 December 2002100
21 (317) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dan McKenzie CH , FRS Geophysicist14 June 200377
22 (318) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG , CH Diplomat14 June 200373
23 (320) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dame Judi Dench CH , DBE Actress11 June 200584
24 (321) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Ian McKellen CH , CBE Actor31 December 200780
25 (322) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Rogers of Riverside CH , FRIBA , FREng , RA Architect14 June 200886
26 (323) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Howard of Lympne CH , QC , PC Politician11 June 201178
27 (324) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Young of Cookham Bt , CH , PC Politician20 September 201278
28 (325) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Coe CH , KBE Athlete, politician, organiser of 2012 Olympics 29 December 201262
29 (326) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Peter Higgs CH , FRS Physicist29 December 201290
30 (327) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Strathclyde CH , PC Politician7 January 201359
31 (328) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH , CBE , PC , QC Politician15 June 201378
32 (329) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Nicholas Serota CH Curator15 June 201373
33 (331) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve CH , CBE , FBA , FRS , FMedSci Philosopher31 December 201378
34 (332) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dame Maggie Smith CH , DBE Actress14 June 201484
35 (333) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Kenneth Clarke CH , QC , PC , MP Politician22 July 201479
36 (336) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Lady Mary Peters LG , CH , DBE Athlete1 January 201580
37 (337) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Young of Graffham CH , PC , DL Politician1 January 201587
38 (339) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Woolf CH , PC , FBA , FMedSci Judge12 June 201586
39 (341) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Roy Strong CH , FRSL Art historian, museum director1 January 201684
40 (342) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dame Vera Lynn CH , DBE Singer11 June 2016102
41 (343) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Smith of Kelvin KT , CH Businessman11 June 201675
42 (344) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Baroness Amos CH , PC Politician and diplomat11 June 201665
43 (345) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg George Osborne CH , PC Politician and Former Chancellor of the Exchequer 4 August 201648
44 (347) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Richard Eyre CH , CBE Director31 December 201676
45 (348) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dame Evelyn Glennie CH , DBE Percussionist31 December 201654
46 (349) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Alec Jeffreys CH , FRS Geneticist31 December 201669
47 (351) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Baroness Williams of Crosby CH , PC Politician31 December 201689
48 (352) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Terence Conran CH Designer17 June 201787
49 (353) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Mark Elder CH , CBE Conductor17 June 201772
50 (354) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dame Beryl Grey CH , DBE Dancer17 June 201792
51 (355) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Paul McCartney CH , MBE Musician17 June 201777
52 (356) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg J. K. Rowling CH , OBE Author17 June 201754
53 (357) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Dame Stephanie Shirley CH , DBE , FREng Entrepreneur and philanthropist17 June 201785
54 (358) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Delia Smith CH , CBE Cook and writer17 June 201778
55 (359) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Stern of Brentford Kt, CH , FRS , FBA Economist17 June 201773
56 (361) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg The Lord Bragg CH , FRS , FBA , FRSL Broadcaster30 December 201779
57 (362) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Lady Antonia Fraser CH , DBE , FRSL Author30 December 201787
58 (363) Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Margaret MacMillan CC , CH Historian30 December 201775
59 (364) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Richard Henderson CH , FRS , FMedSci Biologist9 June 201874
60 (365) Flag of New Zealand.svg Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ , CH , DBE , AC Soprano9 June 201875
61 (366) Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Margaret Atwood CC , OOnt , CH , FRSC , FRSL Author29 December 201879
62 (367) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Sir Patrick McLoughlin CH , PC , MP Politician10 September 201961

Honorary Companions

Member numberNamePost-nominalsKnown forDate of appointmentAge
1 (261) Flag of India.svg Amartya Sen CH , FBA Economist11 May 200085
2 (304) Flag of the Netherlands.svg Bernard Haitink CH , KBE Conductor12 June 200290
3 (340) Flag of South Africa.svg Desmond Tutu CH Social rights activist and clergyman30 November 201587

See also


  1. The number shown in brackets is the individual's place in the wider sequence of appointment since the Order's inception.

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  1. 1 2 "A New Order" . The Times . 25 August 1917. p. 7.
  2. 1 2 "The Monarch of the Today > Queen Ann arbor to the new one w public > Honours > Companions of Honour". Royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. "The honours system: Types of honours and awards". UK Government. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  4. "No. 30250". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 August 1917. p. 8799.
  5. http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/event/the-queen-duke-of-edinburgh-attend-evensong-in-celebration-of-the-centenary-of-the-order-of-the-companions-of-honour-700063722#dame-judi-dench-arrives-to-attend-evensong-at-the-chapel-royal-court-picture-id695723388
  6. McCreery, Christopher (2005a). The Canadian Honours System. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 100. ISBN   978-1-55002-554-5.
  7. Rayment, Leigh. "Companions of Honour". Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2013.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)