What are the different types of honours?

A Companion of Honour medal (Sotheby’s/PA) (PA Media)
A Companion of Honour medal (Sotheby’s/PA) (PA Media)

Special honours are given to people who make outstanding contributions to their community and the country, with the New Year Honours list acknowledging 1,278 people in the UK this year.

The list includes scientists, athletes, fundraisers and people who have fought the battle against coronavirus.

Here are the ranks in descending order and some of the names to be honoured:

– Companions of Honour (CH)

The Order of the Companions of Honour was founded on June 4 1917 by George V and it 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.

Two have been named in the latest list – former Labour MP and peer Frank Field, for public and political service, and Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute.

Lord Field (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)
Lord Field (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

– Order of the Bath (DCB/KCB/CB)

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

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty (KCB) and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (KCB) were honoured in the New Year Honours 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.

James Bond star Daniel Craig was made a Companion of the Order, which is equivalent to a CBE and means he can use the post-nominals CMG, following his final outing as 007 in No Time To Die.

Daniel Craig (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)
Daniel Craig (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

– 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.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam, Wales’ chief medical officer Frank Atherton and Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith were made knights.

There were also damehoods for UK Health Security Agency chief Dr Jenny Harries and Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

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

People are recognised under this honour if they have 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.

James Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli was among those 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 253 who were honoured in this way were Olympians Adam Peaty and Tom Daley.

Tom Daley (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)
Tom Daley (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

– 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 508 people were made Members of the Order of the British Empire in the latest list, including tennis star Emma Raducanu, Diversity member Ashley Banjo and former Spice Girl Mel B.

– 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 361 people in the New Year Honours.