Order of the Companions of Honour
|Order of the Companions of Honour|
Riband and badge of the "Companions of Honour"
|Awarded by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms|
|Established||4 June 1917|
|Motto||In Action Faithful and in Honour Clear|
|Awarded for||Nationally important service|
|Sovereign||Queen Elizabeth II|
Ribbon bar of the order
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."
Founded on the same date as the Order of the British Empire, it is sometimes regarded as the junior order to the Order of Merit. Now described as "awarded for having a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time", the first recipients were all decorated for "services in connection with the war" and were listed in The London Gazette. The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court is now the Chapel of the Order.
The order consists of the Sovereign and a maximum 65 members. Additionally, foreigners or Commonwealth citizens from outside the Commonwealth 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. For Canadians, the advice to the Sovereign can come from a variety of officials.
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.
While still able to nominate candidates to the Order, the Cabinet of Australia has effectively stopped the allocation of this award to that country's citizens in preference to other Australian honours. 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.
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's 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.
- Queen Elizabeth II
|Member number[n 1]||Name||Post-nominals||Occupation||Date of appointment||Age|
|01 (237)||Sir Michael Somare||GCL, GCMG, CH, PC||Former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea||3 June 1978||84|
|02 (246)||Doug Anthony||Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia||31 December 1981||90|
|03 (267)||The Lord Tebbit||Politician||31 July 1987||89|
|04 (270)||The Lord Baker of Dorking||Politician||13 April 1992||86|
|05 (271)||The Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville||Politician||13 April 1992||86|
|06 (278)||The Lord King of Bridgwater||Politician||13 April 1992||87|
|07 (282)||Dame Janet Baker||Opera singer||31 December 1993||87|
|08 (287)||The Lord Owen||Politician||11 June 1994||82|
|09 (289)||Sir David Attenborough||Broadcaster; naturalist||30 December 1995||94|
|10 (291)||The Lord Hurd of Westwell||Politician||30 December 1995||90|
|11 (294)||David Hockney||Artist||14 June 1997||83|
|12 (296)||The Lord Heseltine||Politician||2 August 1997||87|
|13 (297)||The Lord Patten of Barnes||Politician; former Governor of Hong Kong||31 December 1997||76|
|14 (298)||Peter Brook||Director||13 June 1998||95|
|15 (299)||Sir John Major||Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom||31 December 1998||77|
|16 (300)||Bridget Riley||Artist||31 December 1998||89|
|17 (305)||John de Chastelain||Canadian Army officer; diplomat||31 December 1998||83|
|18 (311)||Sir Harrison Birtwistle||Composer||30 December 2000||86|
|19 (316)||James Lovelock||Environmentalist||31 December 2002||101|
|20 (317)||Dan McKenzie||Geophysicist||14 June 2003||78|
|21 (318)||The Lord Hannay of Chiswick||Diplomat||14 June 2003||75|
|22 (320)||Dame Judi Dench||Actress||11 June 2005||85|
|23 (321)||Sir Ian McKellen||Actor||31 December 2007||81|
|24 (322)||The Lord Rogers of Riverside||Architect||14 June 2008||87|
|25 (323)||The Lord Howard of Lympne||Politician||11 June 2011||79|
|26 (324)||The Lord Young of Cookham||Politician||20 September 2012||79|
|27 (325)||The Lord Coe||Politician; Athlete; organiser of 2012 Olympics||29 December 2012||64|
|28 (326)||Peter Higgs||Physicist||29 December 2012||91|
|29 (327)||The Lord Strathclyde||Politician||7 January 2013||60|
|30 (328)||The Lord Campbell of Pittenweem||Politician||15 June 2013||79|
|31 (329)||Sir Nicholas Serota||Curator||15 June 2013||74|
|32 (331)||The Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve||Philosopher||31 December 2013||79|
|33 (332)||Dame Maggie Smith||Actress||14 June 2014||85|
|34 (333)||The Lord Clarke of Nottingham||Politician||22 July 2014||80|
|35 (336)||Lady Mary Peters||Athlete||1 January 2015||81|
|36 (337)||The Lord Young of Graffham||Politician||1 January 2015||88|
|37 (339)||The Lord Woolf||Judge||12 June 2015||87|
|38 (341)||Sir Roy Strong||Art historian; museum director||1 January 2016||85|
|39 (343)||The Lord Smith of Kelvin||Businessman||11 June 2016||76|
|40 (344)||The Baroness Amos||Politician; diplomat||11 June 2016||66|
|41 (345)||George Osborne||Politician; former Chancellor of the Exchequer||4 August 2016||49|
|42 (347)||Sir Richard Eyre||Director||31 December 2016||77|
|43 (348)||Dame Evelyn Glennie||Musician||31 December 2016||55|
|44 (349)||Sir Alec Jeffreys||Geneticist||31 December 2016||70|
|45 (351)||The Baroness Williams of Crosby||Politician||31 December 2016||90|
|46 (353)||Sir Mark Elder||Conductor||17 June 2017||73|
|47 (354)||Dame Beryl Grey||Dancer||17 June 2017||93|
|48 (355)||Sir Paul McCartney||Musician||17 June 2017||78|
|49 (356)||J. K. Rowling||Author||17 June 2017||55|
|50 (357)||Dame Stephanie Shirley||Entrepreneur; philanthropist||17 June 2017||87|
|51 (358)||Delia Smith||Cook; author||17 June 2017||79|
|52 (359)||The Lord Stern of Brentford||Economist||17 June 2017||74|
|53 (361)||The Lord Bragg||Broadcaster||30 December 2017||81|
|54 (362)||Lady Antonia Fraser||Author||30 December 2017||88|
|55 (363)||Margaret MacMillan||Historian||30 December 2017||76|
|56 (364)||Richard Henderson||Biologist||9 June 2018||75|
|57 (365)||Dame Kiri Te Kanawa||, ,||Opera singer||9 June 2018||76|
|58 (366)||Margaret Atwood||, ,||Author||29 December 2018||81|
|59 (367)||The Lord McLoughlin||Politician||10 September 2019||63|
|60 (368)||Sir Elton John||Musician||28 December 2019||73|
|61 (369)||Sir Keith Thomas||Historian||28 December 2019||87|
|62 (370)||Sir Paul Smith||Fashion designer||10 October 2020||74|
|63 (-)||Vacant following the death of Sir Michael Howard, historian, on 30 November 2019.|
|64 (-)||Vacant following the death of Dame Vera Lynn, singer, on 18 June 2020.|
|65 (-)||Vacant following the death of Sir Terence Conran, designer, on 12 September 2020.|
|Member number||Name||Post-nominals||Occupation||Date of appointment||Age|
|1 (261)||Amartya Sen||Economist||11 May 2000||87|
|2 (304)||Bernard Haitink||Conductor||12 June 2002||91|
|3 (340)||Desmond Tutu||Social rights activist; clergyman||30 November 2015||89|
- List of Members of the Order of the Companions of Honour
- List of honorary British knights and dames
- List of people who have declined a British honour
- The number shown in brackets is the individual's place in the wider sequence of appointment since the Order's inception.
- "A New Order". The Times. 25 August 1917. p. 7.
- "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.
- "The honours system: Types of honours and awards". UK Government. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
- "No. 30250". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 August 1917. p. 8799.
- McCreery, Christopher (2005a). The Canadian Honours System. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-55002-554-5.
- Rayment, Leigh. "Companions of Honour". Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2013.