What are the different types of honours?

·3-min read

Special honours are given to people who make outstanding contributions to their community and the country, with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours list acknowledging 1,134 people in the UK this year.

The list includes authors, athletes, politicians, actors and medics who came to prominence during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the ranks in descending order and some of the people being honoured:

– Companions of Honour (CH)

The Order of the Companions of Honour was founded on June 4 1917 by George V and it was limited to just 65 members at any one time. Appointments go to those who have made a long-standing contribution to arts, science, medicine or government.

Three have been named in the latest list – author Sir Salman Rushdie, illustrator Sir Quentin Blake and professor of English and creative writing Dame Marina Warner.

Porgy and Bess VIP performance – London
Sir Salman Rushdie (Matt Crossick/PA)

– Dame Grand Cross

Grand Cross is the highest class in many of the Orders.

Dame Sue Ion, chairwoman of the UK Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board (NIRAB), has been named on the latest list.

– Order of the Bath (DCB/KCB/CB)

This recognises the work of senior military officials and civil servants.

Permanent secretary at the Department for Transport Bernadette Kelly, and second permanent secretary at the Treasury Charles Roxburgh, were honoured in the latest list.

– Order of St Michael and St George (Knight/GCMG/KCMG/DCMG/CMG)

This recognises service in a foreign country, or in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs, such as the work of diplomats overseas.

– Knighthood and damehood (Knight/DBE)

These are usually bestowed on people who have made a major contribution at national level, who can use the titles Dame and Sir.

Author Ian Rankin, MPs Jeremy Wright and Stephen Timms, national medical director at NHS England and NHS Improvement Professor Stephen Powis, and Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone become knights.

There were also damehoods for former first minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster, MPs Maria Miller and Nia Griffith, and chief nursing officer for England Ruth May.

Conservative Party Conference
Dame Arlene Foster (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

– Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

People are recognised with this honour if they have a prominent but lesser role at national level, or a leading role at regional level.

It also goes to those who make a distinguished, innovative contribution to any area.

Actor Damian Lewis, broadcaster Clare Balding, and designer Stella McCartney were among the 85 people made a CBE.

– Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

People are made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire if they have a major local role in any activity, including people whose work has made them known nationally.

Among the 246 who were honoured in this way were former footballer Rio Ferdinand, cricketer Moeen Ali and MP Chris Skidmore.

– Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

This rank recognises outstanding achievements or service to the community which have had a long-term significant impact.

A total of 452 people were made Members of the Order of the British Empire in the latest list, including footballer Gareth Bale, singer Bonnie Tyler and founder of Multiverse Euan Blair.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

– British Empire Medal (BEM)

The BEM was reintroduced in 2012 by then prime minister David Cameron as part of his bid to make the honours system “classless”, saying too few people making a difference in their areas were made MBEs.

The medal went to 304 people in the New Year Honours.

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