The Order of Merit (French: Ordre du Mérite)[n 1] is an order of merit recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII, admission into the order remains the personal gift of its Sovereign—currently Edward VII's great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II—and is restricted to a maximum of 24 living recipients from the Commonwealth realms, plus a limited number of honorary members. While all members are awarded the right to use the post-nominal letters OM and wear the badge of the order, the Order of Merit's precedence among other honours differs between countries.
|Order of Merit|
Ordre du Mérite
Badge and ribbon bow of the order
|Awarded by the monarch of the Commonwealth realms (since 1952)|
|Established||26 June 1902|
|Eligibility||All living citizens of the Commonwealth realms|
|Awarded for||At the monarch's pleasure|
|Sovereign||Queen Elizabeth II|
|First sovereign||King Edward VII|
|Next (higher)||Dependent on state|
|Next (lower)||Dependent on state|
Ribbon of the order
The first mention of a possible Order of Merit was made following the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in correspondence between First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Barham and William Pitt, though nothing came of the idea. Later, it was thought by Queen Victoria, her courtiers, and politicians alike, that a new order, based on the Prussian order Pour le Mérite, would make up for the insufficient recognition offered by the established honours system to achievement outside of public service, in fields such as art, music, literature, industry, and science.
Victoria's husband, Albert, Prince Consort, took an interest in the matter; it was recorded in his diary that he met Robert Peel on 16 January 1844 to discuss the "idea of institution of a civil Order of Merit" and, three days later, he conferred with the Queen on the subject. The concept did not wither and, on 5 January 1888, British prime minister Lord Salisbury submitted to the Queen a draft constitution for an Order of Merit in Science and Art, consisting of one grade split into two branches of knighthood: the Order of Scientific Merit for Knights of Merit in Science, with the post-nominal letters KMS, and the Order of Artistic Merit for Knights of Merit in Art, with the post-nominal letters KMA. However, Sir Frederic Leighton, President of the Royal Academy, advised against the new order, primarily because of its selection process.
Victoria's son, King Edward VII, eventually founded the Order of Merit on 26 June 1902 (the date for which his coronation had been originally planned) as a means to acknowledge "exceptionally meritorious service in Our Navy and Our Army, or who may have rendered exceptionally meritorious service towards the advancement of Art, Literature and Science". All modern aspects of the order were established under his direction, including the division for military figures.
From the outset, prime ministers attempted to propose candidates or lobbied to influence the monarch's decision on appointments, but the Royal Household adamantly guarded information about potential names. After 1931, when the Statute of Westminster came into being and the Dominions of the British Empire became independent countries, equal in status to the UK, the Order of Merit continued as an honour open to all these realms and, in many, became a part of their national honours systems. The order's statutes were amended in 1935 to include members of the Royal Air Force and, in 1969, the definition of honorary recipients was expanded to include members of the Commonwealth of Nations that are not realms.
From its inception, the order has been open to women, Florence Nightingale being the first woman to receive the honour, in 1907. Several individuals have refused admission into the Order of Merit, such as Rudyard Kipling, A. E. Housman, and George Bernard Shaw. To date, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, remains the youngest person ever inducted into the Order of Merit, having been admitted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1968, when he was 47 years of age.
All citizens of the Commonwealth realms are eligible for appointment to the Order of Merit. There may be, however, only 24 living individuals in the order at any given time, not including honorary appointees, and new members are personally selected by the reigning monarch of the realms, currently Queen Elizabeth II, with the assistance of her private secretaries; the order has thus been described as "quite possibly, the most prestigious honour one can receive on planet Earth." Within the limited membership is a designated military division, with its own unique insignia; though it has not been abolished, it is currently unpopulated, Lord Mountbatten of Burma having been the last person so honoured. Honorary members form another group, to which there is no numerical limit, though such appointments are rare; individuals from countries in the Commonwealth of Nations that are not headed by Elizabeth II are therefore considered foreigners, and thus are granted only honorary admissions, such as Nelson Mandela (South Africa) and Mother Teresa (India).
Upon admission into the Order of Merit, members are entitled to use the post-nominal letters OM and are entrusted with the badge of the order, consisting of a golden crown from which is suspended a red enamelled cross, itself centred by a disk of blue enamel, surrounded by a laurel wreath, and bearing in gold lettering the words FOR MERIT; the insignia for the military grouping is distinguished by a pair of crossed swords behind the central disk. The ribbon of the Order of Merit is divided into two stripes of red and blue. Men wear their badges on a neck ribbon, while women carry theirs on a ribbon bow pinned to the left shoulder, and aides-de-camp may wear the insignia on their aiguillettes. Since 1991, it has been required that the insignia be returned upon the recipient's death.
|Member number[a]||Portrait||Name||Known for||Date of appointment||Present age|
|1 (122)||Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
KG KT OM GCVO GBE AK ONZ QSO GCL CC CMM CD PC PC (Can) ADC(P)
|Consort of Elizabeth II||10 June 1968||98|
|2 (169)||The Lord Foster of Thames Bank
|Architect and Pritzker laureate||25 November 1997||84|
|3 (175)||Sir Roger Penrose
|Mathematical physicist||9 May 2000||88|
|4 (176)||Sir Tom Stoppard
OM CBE FRSL HonFBA
|Playwright||9 May 2000||82|
|5 (177)||Charles, Prince of Wales
PC (Can) KG KT GCB OM AK CC QSO CD
|Heir apparent to Elizabeth II||27 June 2002||70|
|6 (178)||The Lord May of Oxford
OM AC FRS FAA FTSE FRSN
|Ecologist and former President of the Royal Society||28 October 2002||81|
|7 (179)||The Lord Rothschild
OM GBE FBA
|Philanthropist||28 October 2002||83|
|8 (180)||Sir David Attenborough
OM CH CVO CBE FRS FLS FZS FSA
|Broadcaster and naturalist||10 June 2005||93|
|9 (181)||The Baroness Boothroyd
|First female Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom||10 June 2005||89|
|10 (182)||Sir Michael Howard
OM CH CBE MC FBA
|Military historian||10 June 2005||96|
|11 (183)||The Lord Eames
|Former Primate of All Ireland and former Archbishop of Armagh||13 June 2007||82|
|12 (184)||Sir Tim Berners-Lee
OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA FBCS
|Inventor of the World Wide Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium||13 June 2007||64|
|13 (185)||The Lord Rees of Ludlow
OM FRS FREng FMedSci FRAS
|Astronomer Royal and former President of the Royal Society||13 June 2007||77|
|14 (186)||Jean Chrétien
PC OM CC QC
|Former Prime Minister of Canada||13 July 2009||85|
|15 (187)||Neil MacGregor
OM AO FSA
|Art historian and former Director of the British Museum||4 November 2010||73|
|16 (188)||David Hockney
OM CH RA
|Artist||1 January 2012||82|
|17 (189)||John Howard
|Second-longest serving Prime Minister of Australia (1996-2007)||1 January 2012||80|
|18 (190)||Sir Simon Rattle
|Orchestral conductor||1 January 2014 ||64|
|19 (192)||Sir Magdi Yacoub
|Cardiothoracic surgeon||1 January 2014||83|
|20 (193)||The Lord Darzi of Denham
OM KBE PC FRS FMedSci FRCSI FRCS FRCSE FRCPGlas FACS FRCP FREng
|Surgeon||31 December 2015||59|
|21 (194)||Dame Ann Dowling
OM DBE FRS FREng
|Mechanical engineer||31 December 2015||67|
|22 (195)||Sir James Dyson
OM CBE FRS FREng
|Inventor and industrial designer||31 December 2015||72|
There have been no honorary members of the Order of Merit since the death of the last such member, Nelson Mandela, in December 2013.
As the Order of Merit is open to the citizens of sixteen different countries, each with their own system of orders, decorations, and medals, the order's place of precedence varies from country to country. While, in the United Kingdom, the order's postnominal letters follow those of Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, membership in the Order of Merit itself gives members no place in any of the orders of precedence in the United Kingdom. However, it has been claimed by Stanley Martin, in his book The Order of Merit 1902–2002: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour, that the Order of Merit is the pinnacle of the British honours system. Similarly, though it was not listed in the Canadian order of precedence for honours, decorations, and medals until December 2010, Christopher McCreery, an expert on Canadian honours and secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, stated that the Order of Merit was the highest civilian award for merit a Canadian could receive.
Some orders of precedence are as follows:
Order of precedence
|Knight/Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle (KT/LT)||Knight/Dame of the Order of Australia (AK/AD)|
Order of precedence
|Cross of Valour (CV)||Companion of the Order of Canada (CC)|
| New Zealand
Order of precedence
|Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB)||Member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ)|
|United Kingdom||Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB)||Baronet's Badge (Bt)|
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani (Arabic: الشيخ حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني; born 1 January 1952) is a member of the ruling Al Thani Qatari royal family. He was the ruling Emir of Qatar from 1995 to 2013. The Qatari government now refers to him as His Highness the Father Emir.Hamad seized power in a bloodless palace coup d'état in 1995. During his 18-year rule, Qatar's natural gas production reached 77 million tonnes, making Qatar the richest country in the world per capita with the average income in the country US$86,440 a year per person. During his reign, several sports and diplomatic events took place in Qatar, including the 2006 Asian Games, 2012 UN Climate Change Conference, Doha Agreement, Fatah–Hamas Doha Agreement, and it was decided that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in the country. He established the Qatar Investment Authority; by 2013, it had invested over $100 billion around the world, most prominently in The Shard, Barclays Bank, Heathrow Airport, Harrods, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Volkswagen, Siemens and Royal Dutch Shell.During Hamad's rule, Qatar hosted two US military bases. It also maintained close relations with Iran. He supported and funded rebel movements, particularly in Libya and Syria during the Arab Spring, while maintaining political stability at home. The Sheikh founded news media group Al Jazeera, through which he maintained his influence over the Arab world. He also played a part in negotiations between the US and the Taliban. In June 2013, Hamad, in a brief televised address, announced that he would hand power to his fourth son, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.Indian Order of Merit
The Indian Order of Merit (IOM) was a military and civilian decoration of British India. It was established in 1837, (General Order of the Governor-General of India, No. 94 of 1 May 1837) although following the Partition of India in 1947 it was decided to discontinue the award and in 1954 a separate Indian honours system was developed, to act retrospectively to 1947. For a long period of time the IOM was the highest decoration that a native member of the British Indian Army could receive and initially it had three divisions. This was changed in 1911 when Indian servicemen became eligible for the Victoria Cross. A civilian division of the IOM also existed between 1902 and 1939, however, it was only conferred very rarely.Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourgish: [ʒɑ̃ːkloːt ˈjuŋkɐ]; born 9 December 1954) is a Luxembourgish politician serving as President of the European Commission from 2014 to 2019. From 1995 to 2013 he served as the 23rd Prime Minister of Luxembourg; from 1989 to 2009 he was also Minister for Finances.
By the time he left office, he was the longest-serving head of any national government in the EU, and one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders in the world, his tenure encompassing the height of the European financial and sovereign debt crisis. From 2005 to 2013, Juncker served as the first permanent President of the Eurogroup.In 2014, the European People's Party (EPP) had Juncker as its lead candidate, or Spitzenkandidat, for the presidency of the Commission in the 2014 elections. This marked the first time that the Spitzenkandidat process was employed. Juncker is the first president that prior to the election has campaigned as a candidate for the position, a process introduced with the Treaty of Lisbon. The EPP won 220 out of 751 seats in the Parliament. On 27 June 2014, the European Council officially nominated Juncker for the position, and on 15 July 2014, the European Parliament elected him with 422 votes out of the 729 cast. He succeeded José Manuel Barroso as President on 1 November 2014. Juncker stated that his priorities would be the creation of a digital single market, the development of an EU Energy Union, the negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade Agreement, the continued reform of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union—with the social dimension in mind—and a "targeted fiscal capacity" for the Eurozone, as well as to negotiate a new deal with Britain.Military awards and decorations
Military awards and decorations are a distinction given as a mark of honor for military heroism, meritorious or outstanding service or achievement. It is often a medal consisting of a ribbon and a medallion.
While the United States Government does not consider all its military awards and medals as being "decorations", other countries tend to refer to all their military awards and medals as "decorations". Civil decorations awarded to military personnel should not be considered military decorations, although some orders of chivalry have civil and military divisions. Decorations received by police and fire brigade personnel may sometimes be considered alongside military decorations, on which they may be modelled, although they are strictly not military awards.Naruhito
Naruhito (徳仁, pronounced [naɾɯçi̥to]; born 23 February 1960) is the Emperor of Japan. He acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May 2019, beginning the Reiwa era, following the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito. He is the 126th monarch according to Japan's traditional order of succession.New Zealand Order of Merit
The New Zealand Order of Merit is an order of merit in New Zealand's honours system. It was established by royal warrant on 30 May 1996 by Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand, "for those persons who in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits", to recognise outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity.
In the order of precedence, the New Zealand Order of Merit ranks immediately after the Order of New Zealand.Order "For Merit to the Fatherland"
The Order "For Merit to the Fatherland" (Russian: Орден «За заслуги перед Отечеством», Orden "Za zaslugi pered Otechestvom") is a state decoration of the Russian Federation. It was instituted on March 2, 1994 by Presidential Decree 442. Until the re-establishment of the Order of St. Andrew in 1998, it was the highest order of the Russian Federation. The order's status was modified on January 6, 1999 by Presidential Decree 19 and again on September 7, 2010 by Presidential Decree 1099.Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or Bundesverdienstorden, BVO) is the only federal decoration of Germany. It was created by the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Theodor Heuss, on 7 September 1951, and has been awarded to over 200,000 individuals in total, both Germans and foreigners. Since the 1990s the number of annual awards has declined from over 4,000, first to around 2,300–2,500 per year, and now under 2,000, with a low of 1752 in 2011. In recent years women have made up a steady 30–31% of recipients. Colloquially, the decorations of the different classes of the Order are also known as the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz).
Most of the German federal states (Länder) have each their own order of merit as well, with the exception of the Free and Hanseatic Cities of Bremen and Hamburg, which reject any orders (by old tradition their citizens, particularly former or present senators, will refuse any decoration in the form of an order — the most famous example: former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt).Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italian: Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana) was founded as the senior order of knighthood by the second President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi in 1951. The highest ranking honour of the Republic, it is awarded for "merit acquired by the nation" in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers. The post-nominal letters for the order are OMRI. The order effectively replaced national orders such as the Civil Order of Savoy (1831), the Order of the Crown of Italy (1868), the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (1572) and the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (1362).Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
The Hungarian Order of Merit (Hungarian: Magyar Érdemrend) is the second highest State Order of Hungary. Founded in 1991, the order is a revival of an original order founded in 1946 and abolished in 1949. Its origins can be traced to the Order of Merit of the Kingdom of Hungary which existed from 1922 until 1946.
Since 2011, the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary is the highest State Order of Hungary.Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
The Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (Polish: Order Zasługi Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) is a Polish order of merit created in 1974, awarded to persons who have rendered great service to Poland. It is granted to foreigners or Poles resident abroad. As such it is sometimes referred to as a traditional "diplomatic order".Orders, decorations, and medals of Italy
The Italian honours system is a means to reward achievements or service to the Italian Republic, formerly the Kingdom of Italy including the Italian Social Republic.Ordre national du Mérite
The Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) is a French order of merit with membership awarded by the President of the French Republic, founded on 3 December 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle. The reason for the order's establishment was twofold: to replace the large number of ministerial orders previously awarded by the ministries; and to create an award that can be awarded at a lower level than the Legion of Honour, which is generally reserved for French citizens. It comprises about 187,000 members worldwide.PDC Order of Merit
The PDC Order of Merit is a world ranking system used by one of the darts organisations, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). Following the 2007 PDC World Darts Championship it superseded a world ranking system based on points being awarded for performances in ranking tournaments.PGA European Tour
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The PGA European Tour is a golfer-controlled organisation whose primary purpose is to maximise the income of tournament golfers. It is a company limited by guarantee and is run by a professional staff but controlled by its playing members via a board of directors composed of 12 elected past and present tour players and a tournament committee of 14 current players. The chairman of the board is David Williams who replaced Neil Coles who had held the post for 38 years. The chairman of the tournament committee is Thomas Bjørn.
The European-based events on the European Tour are nearly all played in Western Europe and the most lucrative of them take place in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France and Spain.
The PGA European Tour is the lead partner in Ryder Cup Europe, a joint venture also including the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland and PGA of Europe that operates the Ryder Cup Matches in cooperation with the PGA of America. The PGA European Tour has a 60% interest in Ryder Cup Europe, with each of its junior partners holding 20%.Patriotic Order of Merit
The Patriotic Order of Merit (German: Vaterländischer Verdienstorden, or VVO) was a national award granted annually in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was founded in 1954 and was awarded to individuals and institutions for outstanding contributions to the state and society in various areas of life.Philippe of Belgium
Philippe or Filip (French pronunciation: [filip], Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfi.lɪp], French: Philippe Léopold Louis Marie, Dutch: Filip Leopold Lodewijk Maria, German: Philipp Leopold Ludwig Maria; born 15 April 1960) is King of the Belgians, having ascended the throne on 21 July 2013, following his father's abdication. He is the eldest child of King Albert II, whom he succeeded upon Albert's abdication for health reasons, and Queen Paola. He married Countess Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz (now Queen Mathilde), with whom he has four children. King Philippe's elder daughter, Princess Elisabeth, is first in the line of succession.Queen Sonja of Norway
Queen Sonja of Norway (born Sonja Haraldsen on 4 July 1937) is the wife of King Harald V.
|Other defence awards|
|Awards of valour|