Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
is an order of chivalry within the British honours system
and was established in 1917
. The motto of the Order is For God and the Empire
The order has five grades, the top two of which are knightly (post-nominals in parantheses):
- Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE)
- Knight/Dame Commander of Order of the British Empire (KBE/DBE)
- Commander of Order of the British Empire (CBE)
- Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
- Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
There is an related British Empire Medal
(BEM) which is no longer awarded in the United Kingdom
, but is still awarded by some Commonwealth countries.
The Order is limited to 120 Knights and Dames Grand Cross, 845 Knights and Dames Commanders, and 8960 Commanders. Also, no more than 858 Officers and 1464 Members may be appointed per year.
- The Collar is a silver gilt chain consisting of six medallions bearing the Royal Arms, alternating with six medallions bearing the cypher GRI. Only Knights and Dames Grand Cross are entitled to the collar, which they wear around the neck.
- The Badge is a Cross Patonce, above which is a gold medallion bearing on one side the images of King George V, and his wife Queen Mary within a red circle bearing the motto “For God and the Empire” in gold letters. On the other side is the cypher GRI. Above the medallion is a figure of the Imperial State Crown. Knights and Dames Grand Cross wear the Badge suspended from the Collar. Knights Commander and male Commanders, Officers, and Members wear it on a ribbon worn around the neck, while Dames Commander and female Commanders, Officers, and Members wear it on a bow placed on the left shoulder.
- The Star is an eight-pointed silver figure bearing the same medallion that appears on the Badge. Only Knights and Dames Grand Cross and Knights and Dames Commander are entitled to it.
Although most of the recipients are British
or from certain other Commonwealth
countries, the honour is occasionally awarded to foreign nationals. Such a recipient is unable to use the appellation "Sir" unless he subsequently becomes a subject of the British monarch (as in the cases of Sir Yehudi Menuhin
and Sir Jean Paul Getty, Jr
Notable foreign recipients include: