Order of the Companions of Honour
Riband and badge of the "Companions of Honour"
Awarded by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms
TypeOrder
Established4 June 1917
MottoIn Action Faithful and in Honour Clear
EligibilityAll living citizens of the Commonwealth realms
Awarded forNationally important service
StatusCurrently constituted
SovereignQueen Elizabeth II
First sovereignKing George V
GradesMember (CH)

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.

Founded on the same date as the Order of the British Empire,[1] it is sometimes regarded as the junior order to the Order of Merit.[2] The order was originally intended to be

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.[1]

and is now described as being "awarded for having a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time".[3] The first recipients of the order were all decorated for "services in connection with the war" and were listed in The London Gazette.[4]

Composition

Lord Tweedsmuir, as Governor General of Canada, wearing the Companion of Honour badge around his neck
Lord Tweedsmuir, as Governor General of Canada, wearing the Companion of Honour badge around his neck

The order consists of the monarch of the Commonwealth realms, who is the Sovereign of the Order of the Companions of Honour, and a maximum of 65 members. Additionally, foreigners or Commonwealth citizens from outside the Commonwealth realms may be added as honorary members. Members are organised into a single class and are appointed by the monarch of the Commwealth realms in their capacity as sovereign of the order. While membership of the order confers no title or precedence, those inducted into the order are entitled to use the post-nominal letters CH.

Appointments to the order are generally made on the advice of prime minister's of the Commonwealth realms.[2] For Canadians, the advice to the Sovereign can come from a variety of officials.[5] 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.[6]

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. The last Australian member, Doug Anthony, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, died on 20 December 2020.[7] Companions from other Commonwealth realms countinue to be appointed, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, a New Zealand soprano, was given the award in 2018 and Canadian author Margaret Atwood was given the award in 2019.

Insignia

The insignia of the order is in the form of an oval medallion, surmounted by a royal crown (but, until recently, 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.

Current Companions

Member number[n 1] Name Post-nominals Occupation Date of appointment Age
1 (267) United Kingdom The Lord Tebbit CH, PC Politician 31 July 1987 90
2 (270) United Kingdom The Lord Baker of Dorking CH, PC Politician 13 April 1992 87
3 (271) United Kingdom The Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville CH, PC Politician 13 April 1992 87
4 (278) United Kingdom The Lord King of Bridgwater CH, PC Politician 13 April 1992 88
5 (282) United Kingdom Dame Janet Baker CH, DBE Opera singer 31 December 1993 88
6 (287) United Kingdom The Lord Owen CH, PC Politician 11 June 1994 83
7 (289) United Kingdom Sir David Attenborough OM, GCMG, CH, CVO, CBE Broadcaster; naturalist 30 December 1995 95
8 (291) United Kingdom The Lord Hurd of Westwell CH, CBE, PC Politician 30 December 1995 91
9 (294) United Kingdom David Hockney OM, CH Artist 14 June 1997 84
10 (296) United Kingdom The Lord Heseltine CH, PC Politician 2 August 1997 88
11 (297) United Kingdom The Lord Patten of Barnes CH, PC Politician; former Governor of Hong Kong 31 December 1997 77
12 (298) United Kingdom Peter Brook CH, CBE Director 13 June 1998 96
13 (299) United Kingdom Sir John Major KG, CH, PC Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 31 December 1998 78
14 (300) United Kingdom Bridget Riley CH, CBE Artist 31 December 1998 90
15 (305) Canada John de Chastelain CC, CMM, CH, CD Canadian Army officer; diplomat 31 December 1998 84
16 (311) United Kingdom Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH Composer 30 December 2000 87
17 (316) United Kingdom James Lovelock CH, CBE, FRS Environmentalist 31 December 2002 102
18 (317) United Kingdom Dan McKenzie CH, FRS Geophysicist 14 June 2003 79
19 (318) United Kingdom The Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG, CH Diplomat 14 June 2003 76
20 (320) United Kingdom Dame Judi Dench CH, DBE Actress 11 June 2005 87
21 (321) United Kingdom Sir Ian McKellen CH, CBE Actor 31 December 2007 82
22 (323) United Kingdom The Lord Howard of Lympne CH, QC, PC Politician 11 June 2011 80
23 (324) United Kingdom The Lord Young of Cookham Bt, CH, PC Politician 20 September 2012 80
24 (325) United Kingdom The Lord Coe CH, KBE, Hon FRIBA Politician; Athlete; organiser of 2012 Olympics 29 December 2012 65
25 (326) United Kingdom Peter Higgs CH, FRS Physicist 29 December 2012 92
26 (327) United Kingdom The Lord Strathclyde CH, PC Politician 7 January 2013 61
27 (328) United Kingdom The Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH, CBE, PC, QC Politician 15 June 2013 80
28 (329) United Kingdom Sir Nicholas Serota CH Curator 15 June 2013 75
29 (331) United Kingdom The Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve CH, CBE, FBA, FRS, FMedSci Philosopher 31 December 2013 80
30 (332) United Kingdom Dame Maggie Smith CH, DBE Actress 14 June 2014 87
31 (333) United Kingdom The Lord Clarke of Nottingham CH, QC, PC Politician 22 July 2014 81
32 (336) United Kingdom Lady Mary Peters LG, CH, DBE, DStJ Athlete 1 January 2015 82
33 (337) United Kingdom The Lord Young of Graffham CH, PC, DL Politician 1 January 2015 89
34 (339) United Kingdom The Lord Woolf CH, PC, FBA, FMedSci Judge 12 June 2015 88
35 (341) United Kingdom Sir Roy Strong CH, FRSL Art historian; museum director 1 January 2016 86
36 (343) United Kingdom The Lord Smith of Kelvin KT, CH Businessman 11 June 2016 77
37 (344) United Kingdom The Baroness Amos LG, CH, PC Politician; diplomat 11 June 2016 67
38 (345) United Kingdom George Osborne CH, PC Politician; former Chancellor of the Exchequer 4 August 2016 50
39 (347) United Kingdom Sir Richard Eyre CH, CBE Director 31 December 2016 78
40 (348) United Kingdom Dame Evelyn Glennie CH, DBE Musician 31 December 2016 56
41 (349) United Kingdom Sir Alec Jeffreys CH, FRS Geneticist 31 December 2016 72
42 (353) United Kingdom Sir Mark Elder CH, CBE Conductor 17 June 2017 74
43 (354) United Kingdom Dame Beryl Grey CH, DBE Dancer 17 June 2017 94
44 (355) United Kingdom Sir Paul McCartney CH, MBE Musician 17 June 2017 79
45 (356) United Kingdom J. K. Rowling CH, OBE Author 17 June 2017 56
46 (357) United Kingdom Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, DBE, FREng Entrepreneur; philanthropist 17 June 2017 88
47 (358) United Kingdom Delia Smith CH, CBE Cook; author 17 June 2017 80
48 (359) United Kingdom The Lord Stern of Brentford CH, FRS, FBA Economist 17 June 2017 75
49 (361) United Kingdom The Lord Bragg CH, FRS, FBA, FRSL Broadcaster 30 December 2017 82
50 (362) United Kingdom Lady Antonia Fraser CH, DBE, FRSL Author 30 December 2017 89
51 (363) Canada Margaret MacMillan CC, CH Historian 30 December 2017 78
52 (364) United Kingdom Richard Henderson CH, FRS, FMedSci Biologist 9 June 2018 76
53 (365) New Zealand Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ, CH, DBE, AC Opera singer 9 June 2018 77
54 (366) Canada Margaret Atwood CC, OOnt, CH, FRSC, FRSL Author 29 December 2018 82
55 (367) United Kingdom The Lord McLoughlin CH, PC Politician 10 September 2019 64
56 (368) United Kingdom Sir Elton John CH, CBE Musician 28 December 2019 74
57 (369) United Kingdom Sir Keith Thomas CH, FBA, FLSW, FRHistS Historian 28 December 2019 89
58 (370) United Kingdom Sir Paul Smith CH, CBE, RDI Fashion designer 10 October 2020 75
59 (371) United Kingdom Sir David Chipperfield CH, CBE, RA, RDI, RIBA Architect 31 December 2020 68
60 (372) United Kingdom Sir Paul Nurse CH, PRS, FMedSci, HonFREng, HonFBA, MAE Geneticist 31 December 2021 72
61 (373) United Kingdom The Lord Field of Birkenhead CH, PC, DL Politician 31 December 2021 79
62 (-) Vacant following the death of Doug Anthony, on 20 December 2020.
63 (-) Vacant following the death of Sir Michael Somare, on 26 February 2021.
64 (-) Vacant following the death of Baroness Williams of Crosby, on 12 April 2021.
65 (-) Vacant following the death of Lord Rogers of Riverside, on 18 December 2021.

Honorary Companions

Member number Name Post-nominals Occupation Date of appointment Age
1 (261) India Amartya Sen CH, FBA Economist 11 May 2000 88

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The number shown in brackets is the individual's place in the wider sequence of appointment since the Order's inception.

References

  1. ^ a b "A New Order". The Times. 25 August 1917. p. 7.
  2. ^ a b "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.
  3. ^ "The honours system: Types of honours and awards". UK Government. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  4. ^ "No. 30250". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 August 1917. p. 8799.
  5. ^ McCreery, Christopher (2005a). The Canadian Honours System. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-55002-554-5.
  6. ^ Rayment, Leigh. "Companions of Honour". Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2013.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ Barbour, Lucy (20 December 2020). "Doug Anthony, former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister, dies aged 90". Australia: ABC News. Retrieved 20 December 2020.