Order of the Companions of Honour

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]

Order of the Companions of Honour
Companion of Honour
Riband and badge of the "Companions of Honour"
Awarded by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms
Established4 June 1917
MottoIn Action Faithful and in Honour Clear
Awarded forNationally important service
StatusCurrently constituted
SovereignQueen Elizabeth II
GradesCompanion (CH)
Order of the Companions of Honour Ribbon

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


The order consists of the Sovereign and a maximum 65 members. Additionally, foreigners or Commonwealth citizens from outside the 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, Australia has effectively stopped the allocation of this award to its citizens in preference to its national awards. 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.


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

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 83
02 (246) Australia Doug Anthony AC, CH, PC Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia 31 December 1981 89
03 (267) United Kingdom The Lord Tebbit CH, PC Politician 31 July 1987 88
04 (270) United Kingdom The Lord Baker of Dorking CH, PC Politician 13 April 1992 84
05 (271) United Kingdom The Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville CH, PC Politician 13 April 1992 85
06 (278) United Kingdom The Lord King of Bridgwater CH, PC Politician 13 April 1992 86
07 (282) United Kingdom Dame Janet Baker CH, DBE Opera singer 31 December 1993 85
08 (287) United Kingdom The Lord Owen CH, PC Politician 11 June 1994 81
09 (289) United Kingdom Sir David Attenborough OM, CH, CVO, CBE Broadcaster and naturalist 30 December 1995 93
10 (291) United Kingdom The Lord Hurd of Westwell CH, CBE, PC Politician 30 December 1995 89
11 (294) United Kingdom David Hockney OM, CH Artist 14 June 1997 82
12 (296) United Kingdom The Lord Heseltine CH, PC Politician 2 August 1997 86
13 (297) United Kingdom The Lord Patten of Barnes CH, PC Politician and former Governor of Hong Kong 31 December 1997 75
14 (298) United Kingdom Peter Brook CH, CBE Theatre director 13 June 1998 94
15 (299) United Kingdom Sir John Major KG, CH, PC Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 31 December 1998 76
16 (300) United Kingdom Bridget Riley CH, CBE Artist 31 December 1998 88
17 (305) Canada John de Chastelain CC, CMM, CD, CH Canadian general and diplomat 31 December 1998 82
18 (311) United Kingdom Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH Composer 30 December 2000 85
19 (312) United Kingdom Sir Michael Howard OM, CH, CBE, MC, FBA Historian 15 June 2002 96
20 (316) United Kingdom James Lovelock CH, CBE, FRS Scientist and environmentalist 31 December 2002 100
21 (317) United Kingdom Dan McKenzie CH, FRS Geophysicist 14 June 2003 77
22 (318) United Kingdom The Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG, CH Diplomat 14 June 2003 73
23 (320) United Kingdom Dame Judi Dench CH, DBE Actress 11 June 2005 84
24 (321) United Kingdom Sir Ian McKellen CH, CBE Actor 31 December 2007 80
25 (322) United Kingdom The Lord Rogers of Riverside CH, FRIBA, FREng, RA Architect 14 June 2008 86
26 (323) United Kingdom The Lord Howard of Lympne CH, QC, PC Politician 11 June 2011 78
27 (324) United Kingdom The Lord Young of Cookham Bt, CH, PC Politician 20 September 2012 78
28 (325) United Kingdom The Lord Coe CH, KBE Athlete, politician, organiser of 2012 Olympics 29 December 2012 62
29 (326) United Kingdom Peter Higgs CH, FRS Physicist 29 December 2012 90
30 (327) United Kingdom The Lord Strathclyde CH, PC Politician 7 January 2013 59
31 (328) United Kingdom The Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH, CBE, PC, QC Politician 15 June 2013 78
32 (329) United Kingdom Sir Nicholas Serota CH Curator 15 June 2013 73
33 (331) United Kingdom The Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve CH, CBE, FBA, FRS, FMedSci Philosopher 31 December 2013 78
34 (332) United Kingdom Dame Maggie Smith CH, DBE Actress 14 June 2014 84
35 (333) United Kingdom Kenneth Clarke CH, QC, PC, MP Politician 22 July 2014 79
36 (336) United Kingdom Lady Mary Peters LG, CH, DBE Athlete 1 January 2015 80
37 (337) United Kingdom The Lord Young of Graffham CH, PC, DL Politician 1 January 2015 87
38 (339) United Kingdom The Lord Woolf CH, PC, FBA, FMedSci Judge 12 June 2015 86
39 (341) United Kingdom Sir Roy Strong CH, FRSL Art historian, museum director 1 January 2016 83
40 (342) United Kingdom Dame Vera Lynn CH, DBE Singer 11 June 2016 102
41 (343) United Kingdom The Lord Smith of Kelvin KT, CH Businessman 11 June 2016 75
42 (344) United Kingdom The Baroness Amos CH, PC Politician and diplomat 11 June 2016 65
43 (345) United Kingdom George Osborne CH, PC Politician and Former Chancellor of the Exchequer 4 August 2016 48
44 (347) United Kingdom Sir Richard Eyre CH, CBE Director 31 December 2016 76
45 (348) United Kingdom Dame Evelyn Glennie CH, DBE Percussionist 31 December 2016 54
46 (349) United Kingdom Sir Alec Jeffreys CH, FRS Geneticist 31 December 2016 69
47 (351) United Kingdom The Baroness Williams of Crosby CH, PC Politician 31 December 2016 89
48 (352) United Kingdom Sir Terence Conran CH Designer 17 June 2017 87
49 (353) United Kingdom Sir Mark Elder CH, CBE Conductor 17 June 2017 72
50 (354) United Kingdom Dame Beryl Grey CH, DBE Dancer 17 June 2017 92
51 (355) United Kingdom Sir Paul McCartney CH, MBE Musician 17 June 2017 77
52 (356) United Kingdom J. K. Rowling CH, OBE Author 17 June 2017 54
53 (357) United Kingdom Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, DBE, FREng Entrepreneur and philanthropist 17 June 2017 85
54 (358) United Kingdom Delia Smith CH, CBE Cook and writer 17 June 2017 78
55 (359) United Kingdom The Lord Stern of Brentford Kt, CH, FRS, FBA Economist 17 June 2017 73
56 (361) United Kingdom The Lord Bragg CH, FRS, FBA, FRSL Broadcaster 30 December 2017 79
57 (362) United Kingdom Lady Antonia Fraser CH, DBE, FRSL Author 30 December 2017 86
58 (363) Canada Margaret MacMillan CC, CH Historian 30 December 2017 75
59 (364) United Kingdom Richard Henderson CH, FRS, FMedSci Biologist 9 June 2018 74
60 (365) New Zealand Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ, CH, DBE, AC Soprano 9 June 2018 75
61 (366) Canada Margaret Atwood CC, OOnt, CH, FRSC, FRSL Author 29 December 2018 79

Honorary Companions

Member number Name Post-nominals Known for Date of appointment Age
1 (261) India Amartya Sen CH, FBA Economist 11 May 2000 85
2 (304) Netherlands Bernard Haitink CH, KBE Conductor 12 June 2002 90
3 (340) South Africa Desmond Tutu CH Social rights activist and clergyman 30 November 2015 87

See also


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


  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. ^ http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/event/the-queen-duke-of-edinburgh-attend-evensong-in-celebration-of-the-centenary-of-the-order-of-the-companions-of-honour-700063722#dame-judi-dench-arrives-to-attend-evensong-at-the-chapel-royal-court-picture-id695723388
  6. ^ McCreery, Christopher (2005a). The Canadian Honours System. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-55002-554-5.
  7. ^ Rayment, Leigh. "Companions of Honour". Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
1945 Dissolution Honours

The 1945 Dissolution Honours List was issued on 7 June to mark the dissolution of the United Kingdom parliament prior to the 1945 general election.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour, with classes (Knight, Knight Grand Cross, etc.) and then divisions (Military, Civil, etc.) as appropriate.

1945 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours

The 1945 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours were announced on 14 August 1945 to mark the resignation of the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, following the success of the Labour Party in the 1945 General Election.The list was particularly notable for four recommendations outside party politics which had the approval of the new Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. These were to the Chiefs of Staff of the armed services and the Ministry of Defence in World War II, honouring what The Times called "the most remarkable achievement of team work in British military history ... followed with conspicuous mastery to its consummation in the most absolute of all victories."Other nominations followed the usual convention of Prime Minister's Resignation Honours, rewarding loyal service to the Conservative Party and political and personal service to the retiring Prime Minister. Amongst these honours, The Times noted in particular the knighthood for A. P. Herbert, "who has his individual niche in the parliamentary temple as the doughty vindicator of the private member's rights, including not least the right to legislate."The list included the first awards of the newly inaugurated Defence Medal, intended to honour members of the Home Guard, Civil Defence, and troops serving in non-operational areas. However, these four awards were to people who went with Churchill into operational areas, and were noted as being in a special category.The recipients are displayed below as they were styled before their new honour.

1964 Dissolution Honours

The 1964 Dissolution Honours were officially announced on 27 November 1964 and marked the dissolution of parliament following the 1964 General Election.

1979 Dissolution Honours

The 1979 Dissolution Honours List was issued in June 1979 following the general election of that year.The recipients of honours are displayed as they were styled before their new honour.

2013 Special Honours

The Special Honours are issued at the Queen's pleasure at any given time. The Special Honours refer the award of the Order of the Garter, Order of the Thistle, Order of Merit, Royal Victorian Order and the Order of St John.

† indicates an award given posthumously.

Arnold Smith

Arnold Cantwell Smith (January 18, 1915 – February 7, 1994) was a Canadian diplomat. He was the first Commonwealth Secretary-General, serving from 1965–1975.

A talented student, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford.

From 1958 to 1961, he was the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt. From 1961 to 1963, he was the Canadian Ambassador to the USSR. During his time at the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth flag was designed on his and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's initiative.

In 1975 he was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour. In 1984, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for "a long and distinguished diplomatic career".Arnold Smith was the elder brother of Wilfred Cantwell Smith.His published work includes Stitches In Time; the Commonwealth in World Politics.

Arthur Headlam

Arthur Cayley Headlam (2 August 1862 – 17 January 1947) was an English theologian who served as Bishop of Gloucester from 1923 to 1945.

Charles Best (medical scientist)

Charles Herbert Best (February 27, 1899 – March 31, 1978) was an American-Canadian medical scientist and one of the co-discoverers of insulin.

Ernest Hives, 1st Baron Hives

Ernest Walter Hives, 1st Baron Hives (21 April 1886 – 24 April 1965), was the one-time head of the Rolls-Royce Aero Engine division and chairman of Rolls-Royce Ltd.Hives was born in Reading, Berkshire. During the Second World War he was closely involved with the design of the Merlin engine as well as numerous later Rolls-Royce jet engines. He began his working life in a local garage. However, in 1903 he got a job working at C.S. Rolls' car company, after fixing Rolls' car.

Evelyn Glennie

Dame Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie, (born 19 July 1965) is a Scottish virtuoso multi-percussionist, performing internationally with a wide variety of orchestras and contemporary musicians. She was selected as one of the two laureates for the Polar Music Prize of 2015.

February 1974 Dissolution Honours

The February 1974 Dissolution Honours List was issued on 2 April 1974 following the dissolution of the United Kingdom parliament in preparation for a general election.

George Wardle

George James Wardle CH (15 May 1865 – 18 June 1947) was a British politician.

Harry Gosling

Harry Gosling CH (9 June 1861 – 24 October 1930) was a British Labour Party politician and trade union leader.

Henry Williams (bishop)

Henry Herbert Williams CH (19 December 1872 – 29 September 1961) was born into an ecclesiastical family on 19 December 1872 and educated at St Peter's School, York and The Queen's College, Oxford. He began his ministry in 1900 as a tutor and lecturer in philosophy at Hertford College, Oxford and in 1913 he became Principal of St Edmund Hall, Oxford. From 1920 to 1941 he was Bishop of Carlisle. He died on 29 September 1961.

Herbert Bowden, Baron Aylestone

Herbert William Bowden, Baron Aylestone, (20 January 1905 – 30 April 1994) was a British Labour politician.

Born in Cardiff, Wales, Bowden was a councillor on Leicester City Council 1938–45 and president of Leicester Labour Party in 1938. He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He was elected at the 1945 general election for South Leicester, taking South-West Leicester at the 1950 election. He was appointed a whip in 1949 and a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury in 1950. From 1951, he was Deputy Chief Whip, then Chief Whip through Labour's years in opposition. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1953 Coronation Honours.When Labour returned to power in 1964, Bowden was appointed Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council, having become a Privy Counsellor in 1962. In 1966 he was moved to the new post of Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, serving until 1967. On 1 September 1967 he succeeded Lord Hill as chairman of the Independent Television Authority. On 20 September 1967, he was created a life peer as Baron Aylestone, of Aylestone in the City of Leicester and . He was appointed a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 1975 Birthday Honours. He joined the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.

Lord Aylestone died in Worthing aged 89.

Neville Marriner

Sir Neville Marriner, (15 April 1924 – 2 October 2016) was an English violinist who became "one of the world's greatest conductors". He founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and his partnership with them is the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor.

Peter Thorneycroft

George Edward Peter Thorneycroft, Baron Thorneycroft, (26 July 1909 – 4 June 1994) was a British Conservative Party politician. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1957 and 1958.

Richard Eyre

Sir Richard Charles Hastings Eyre (born 28 March 1943) is an English film, theatre, television and opera director.

Roundell Palmer, 3rd Earl of Selborne

Roundell Cecil Palmer, 3rd Earl of Selborne, CH, PC (15 April 1887 – 3 September 1971), known as "Top Wolmer" and styled Viscount Wolmer from 1895 to 1941, was a British administrator, intelligence officer and Conservative politician.

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