What are the different types of honour?

Special honours are given to people who make outstanding contributions to their community and the country, with the King’s Birthday Honours acknowledging 1,077 people in the UK this year.

They range from politicians, musicians and actors to senior diplomats and elite sports stars.

Here are the ranks in descending order and some of the people being honoured:

– Companions of Honour (CH)

The Order of the Companions of Honour was founded on June 4 1917 by George V and is limited to 65 members at any one time. Appointments go to those who have made a long-standing contribution to arts, science, medicine or government.

One has been named in the latest list – former prime minister Gordon Brown was recognised for his public service, including his 2007 to 2010 premiership and serving as chancellor in Tony Blair’s government.

Gordon Brown
Former prime minister Gordon Brown (Victoria Jones/PA).

Grand Cross (GBE) is the highest class in many of the Orders.

Media producer and philanthropist Dame Jenny Abramsky is on the latest list for her services to arts, media and culture. Dame Jenny, who worked for nearly four decades at the BBC, was named as the new chancellor of the University of East Anglia earlier this year.

Chairman of the LGBT Veterans independent review Lord Etherton was the other name on this year’s list. The retired judge was the master of the rolls and head of civil justice from 2016 to 2021 and chancellor of the High Court from 2013 to 2016.

– Order of the Bath (GCB/KCB/DCB/CB)

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

There is no Knight Grand Cross (GCB) in the King’s Birthday Honours but Lieutenant General Charles Stickland and Lieutenant General Ian Cave both become Knight Commander (KCB).

They are joined by Revenue and Customs chief executive Jim Harra and DWP permanent secretary Peter Schofield.

Permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice Antonia Romeo becomes a Dame Commander (DCB).

Six civilians and five military figures are made Companions (CB).

– 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.

Financier Bill Browder, recognised for his human rights and anti-corruption work as head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, was among the individuals honoured.

– 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.

Post Office campaigner Alan Bates and cyclist Mark Cavendish are among those knighted, and there are damehoods for artist Tracey Emin, actress Imelda Staunton and fashion accessories designer Anya Hindmarch.

Alan Bates, former sub-postmaster and founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance
Former sub-postmaster and founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, Alan Bates (Yui Mok/PA)

People are recognised with this honour if they 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.

Writer Armando Iannucci, former cyclist Chris Boardman and former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness were all made CBEs.

– 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 223 honoured in this way in the latest list are former England footballer Karen Carney, Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera and Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho.

– Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

This rank recognises outstanding achievements or service to the community with a significant long-term impact.

A total of 429 people were made Members of the Order of the British Empire in the latest list, including Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon, Countdown’s Susie Dent and Strictly Come Dancing’s Amy Dowden.

Simon Le Bon arriving at the NME Awards
Simon Le Bon arriving at the NME Awards (Ian West/PA)

The BEM was reintroduced in 2012 by then-prime minister Lord 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 goes to 301 people in the King’s Birthday Honours.

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