The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry, and religion. It is sometimes regarded as the junior order to the Order of Merit.
The order consists of the Sovereign, plus no more than 65 Companions of Honour. Additionally, foreigners from outside the realms may be added as honorary members. Membership of the order confers no title, or precedence, but recipients of this one-class order are entitled to use the post-nominal lettersCH. Appointments can be made on the advice of Commonwealth prime ministers. For Canadians, the advice to the Sovereign can come from a variety of officials.
Originally, the order was limited to 50 ordinary members, but it was enlarged to 65 in 1943 with a quota of 45 members for the United Kingdom, seven for Australia, two each for New Zealand and South Africa, and 9 for India, Burma and the colonies. The quota numbers were altered in 1970 to 47 for the United Kingdom, 7 for Australia, 2 for New Zealand and 9 for other Commonwealth realms. The quota was adjusted again in 1975 by adding 2 places to the New Zealand quota and reducing the 9 for the other countries to 7.
The insignia of the order is in the form of an oval medallion with 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 badge's clear blue border bears 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) in gold letters, and the oval is surmounted by an imperial crown. Men wear the badge on a ribbon (red with golden border threads) around their necks, and women on a bow at the left shoulder.
Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) • Knight/Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG/DCMG) • Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
/ Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) • / Knight/Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE/DBE) • / Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) • / Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) • / Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)