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Order of the Companions of Honour
CHCompanionofHonour.jpg
Riband and badge of the "Companions of Honour"
Awarded by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms
Type Order
Motto In Action Faithful and in Honour Clear
Awarded for Nationally important service
Status Currently constituted
Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II
Grades (w/ post-nominals) Companion (CH)
Statistics
Established 1917
Established 4 June 1917
Order of the Companions of Honour Ribbon.gif
Ribbon bar of the order

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

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 and is "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]

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] Now described as "awarded for having a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time",[3] the first recipients were all decorated for "services in connection with the war" and were listed in The London Gazette.[4] The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court is now the Chapel of the Order.[5]

Composition[edit | edit source]

The order consists of the Sovereign and a maximum 65 members. Additionally, foreigners or Commonwealth citizens from outside the Commonwealth realms may be added as honorary members. Membership confers no title or precedence, but those inducted into the single-class order are entitled to use the post-nominal letters CH. Appointments can be made on the advice of Commonwealth realm prime ministers.[2] For Canadians, the advice to the Sovereign can come from a variety of officials.[6]

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.[7]

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. Margaret MacMillan, a Canadian historian, was given the award in 2017. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, a New Zealand soprano, was given the award in 2018. Margaret Atwood, a Canadian author, was appointed in 2019.

Insignia[edit | edit source]

The insignia of the order is in the form of an oval medallion, 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' 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[edit | edit source]

Member number[n 1] Name Post-nominals Known for Date of appointment Age
01 (237) Papua New Guinea Sir Michael Somare GCL, GCMG, CH, PC Former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea 3 June 1978 84
02 (246) Australia Doug Anthony AC CH PC Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia 31 December 1981 91
03 (267) United Kingdom The Lord Tebbit CH PC Politician 31 July 1987 89
04 (270) United Kingdom The Lord Baker of Dorking CH PC Politician 13 April 1992 86
05 (271) United Kingdom The Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville CH PC Politician 13 April 1992 86
06 (278) United Kingdom The Lord King of Bridgwater CH PC Politician 13 April 1992 87
07 (282) United Kingdom Dame Janet Baker CH DBE Opera singer 31 December 1993 87
08 (287) United Kingdom The Lord Owen CH PC Politician 11 June 1994 82
09 (289) United Kingdom Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE Broadcaster and naturalist 30 December 1995 94
10 (291) United Kingdom The Lord Hurd of Westwell CH CBE PC Politician 30 December 1995 90
11 (294) United Kingdom David Hockney OM CH Artist 14 June 1997 83
12 (296) United Kingdom The Lord Heseltine CH PC Politician 2 August 1997 87
13 (297) United Kingdom The Lord Patten of Barnes CH PC Politician and former Governor of Hong Kong 31 December 1997 76
14 (298) United Kingdom Peter Brook CH CBE Director 13 June 1998 95
15 (299) United Kingdom Sir John Major KG CH PC Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 31 December 1998 77
16 (300) United Kingdom Bridget Riley CH CBE Artist 31 December 1998 89
17 (305) Canada John de Chastelain CC CMM CD CH Canadian general and diplomat 31 December 1998 83
18 (311) United Kingdom Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH Composer 30 December 2000 86
19 (316) United Kingdom James Lovelock CH CBE FRS Environmentalist 31 December 2002 101
20 (317) United Kingdom Dan McKenzie CH FRS Geophysicist 14 June 2003 78
21 (318) United Kingdom The Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG CH Diplomat 14 June 2003 75
22 (320) United Kingdom Dame Judi Dench CH DBE Actress 11 June 2005 86
23 (321) United Kingdom Sir Ian McKellen CH CBE Actor 31 December 2007 81
24 (322) United Kingdom The Lord Rogers of Riverside CH FRIBA FREng RA Architect 14 June 2008 87
25 (323) United Kingdom The Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC PC Politician 11 June 2011 79
26 (324) United Kingdom The Lord Young of Cookham Bt CH PC Politician 20 September 2012 79
27 (325) United Kingdom The Lord Coe CH KBE Athlete, politician and organiser of 2012 Olympics 29 December 2012 64
28 (326) United Kingdom Peter Higgs CH FRS Physicist 29 December 2012 91
29 (327) United Kingdom The Lord Strathclyde CH PC Politician 7 January 2013 60
30 (328) United Kingdom The Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE PC QC Politician 15 June 2013 79
31 (329) United Kingdom Sir Nicholas Serota CH Curator 15 June 2013 74
32 (331) United Kingdom The Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve CH CBE FBA FRS  Philosopher 31 December 2013 79
33 (332) United Kingdom Dame Maggie Smith CH DBE Actress 14 June 2014 86
34 (333) United Kingdom Kenneth Clarke CH QC PC Politician 22 July 2014 80
35 (336) United Kingdom Lady Mary Peters LG CH DBE Athlete 1 January 2015 81
36 (337) United Kingdom The Lord Young of Graffham CH PC DL Politician 1 January 2015 88
37 (339) United Kingdom The Lord Woolf CH PC FBA  Judge 12 June 2015 87
38 (341) United Kingdom Sir Roy Strong CH FRSL Art historian and museum director 1 January 2016 85
39 (343) United Kingdom The Lord Smith of Kelvin KT CH Businessman 11 June 2016 76
40 (344) United Kingdom The Baroness Amos CH PC Politician and diplomat 11 June 2016 66
41 (345) United Kingdom George Osborne CH PC Politician and former Chancellor of the Exchequer 4 August 2016 49
42 (347) United Kingdom Sir Richard Eyre CH CBE Director 31 December 2016 77
43 (348) United Kingdom Dame Evelyn Glennie CH DBE Percussionist 31 December 2016 55
44 (349) United Kingdom Sir Alec Jeffreys CH FRS Geneticist 31 December 2016 71
45 (351) United Kingdom The Baroness Williams of Crosby CH PC Politician 31 December 2016 90
46 (352) United Kingdom Sir Terence Conran CH Designer 17 June 2017 89
47 (353) United Kingdom Sir Mark Elder CH CBE Conductor 17 June 2017 73
48 (354) United Kingdom Dame Beryl Grey CH DBE Dancer 17 June 2017 93
49 (355) United Kingdom Sir Paul McCartney CH MBE Musician 17 June 2017 78
50 (356) United Kingdom J. K. Rowling CH OBE Author 17 June 2017 55
51 (357) United Kingdom Dame Stephanie Shirley CH DBE FREng Entrepreneur and philanthropist 17 June 2017 87
52 (358) United Kingdom Delia Smith CH CBE Cook and writer 17 June 2017 79
53 (359) United Kingdom The Lord Stern of Brentford Kt, CH FRS FBA Economist 17 June 2017 74
54 (361) United Kingdom The Lord Bragg CH FRS FBA FRSL Broadcaster 30 December 2017 81
55 (362) United Kingdom Lady Antonia Fraser CH DBE FRSL Author 30 December 2017 88
56 (363) Canada Margaret MacMillan CC CH Historian 30 December 2017 77
57 (364) United Kingdom Richard Henderson CH FRS  Biologist 9 June 2018 75
58 (365) New Zealand Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ, CH, DBE AC Opera singer 9 June 2018 76
59 (366) Canada Margaret Atwood CC OOnt CH, FRSC, FRSL Author 29 December 2018 81
60 (367) United Kingdom Sir Patrick McLoughlin CH PC Politician 10 September 2019 63
61 (368) United Kingdom Sir Elton John CH CBE Musician 28 December 2019 73
62 (369) United Kingdom Sir Keith Thomas CH FBA FLSW FRHistS Historian 28 December 2019 88
63 (-)
64 (-)
65 (-)

Honorary Companions[edit | edit source]

Member number Name Post-nominals Known for Date of appointment Age
1 (261) India Amartya Sen CH FBA Economist 11 May 2000 87
2 (304) Netherlands Bernard Haitink CH KBE Conductor 12 June 2002 91
3 (340) South Africa Desmond Tutu CH Social rights activist and clergyman 30 November 2015 89

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

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

References[edit | edit source]

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