Skip to main content
Back to top
View over the Shropshire Hills

The Honours system

Going above and beyond

The Honours system singles out individuals who have gone above and beyond in their field of interest, or through volunteering.

Allocated on merit, the Honours system sees recipients identified by government departments, private and public bodies, and members of the public to ensure that all aspects of community life in Britain are rewarded.

When making a nomination there is no need to suggest an Honour as these will be decided by the committee.

Some Honours are also issued at The King’s discretion. The main Honours are:


Companion of Honour

This recognises people who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government over a sustained time. It is limited to 65 people.

Knight or Dame

This high-level honour rewards those who have made a significant contribution in any field over a long period of time and who serve as a true inspiration to others.

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

This award recognises those taking a leading role in a particular field at regional level, including making an outstanding contribution.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

This award marks the accomplishments of people who have taken on a major role in their community in any area, as well as people whose work has made them a national name.

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

This rewards outstanding achievement or service in the community that has had a significant impact and sets an example to others.

British Empire Medal (BEM)

This award is given out for service in the community, such as through charity or voluntary work, or for innovation that has made a difference.

Royal Victorian Order (RVO)

This is given by The King to people who have helped him personally.

Bravery Awards

Awards can also be made specifically for acts of bravery, these include:


George Cross

A civilian medal for bravery, acts of great heroism and courage in extreme danger.


George Medal 

This is given to civilians for acts of bravery.


Queen’s Gallantry Medal

Presented to civilians for bravery and inspiring acts of bravery.


Queen’s Commendation for Bravery/Bravery in the Air

This recognises bravery in situations where there is a risk to life.