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. It was founded on the same date as the Order of the British Empire.[1][2]

Order of the
Companions of Honour
Badge and ribbon of the order
Awarded by Charles III
Established4 June 1917
MottoIn Action Faithful and in Honour Clear
EligibilityAll living citizens of the Commonwealth realms
CriteriaNationally important service
StatusCurrently constituted
FounderGeorge V
SovereignCharles III
GradesMember (CH)

Ribbon bar of the order

The order was originally intended to be conferred upon a limited number of persons for whom this special distinction seemed to be the most appropriate form of recognition, constituting an honour disassociated either from the acceptance of title or the classification of merit.[1] It is now described as being "awarded for having a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time".[3] The first recipients of the order were all decorated for "services in connection with the war" and were listed in The London Gazette.[4]


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

The order consists of the monarch of the Commonwealth realms, who is the Sovereign of the Order of the Companions of Honour, and a maximum of 65 members. Additionally, foreigners or Commonwealth citizens from outside the Commonwealth realms may be added as honorary members. Members are organised into a single class and are appointed by the monarch of the Commwealth realms in their capacity as sovereign of the order. While membership of the order confers no title or precedence, those inducted into the order are entitled to use the post-nominal letters CH.

Appointments to the order are generally made on the advice of prime ministers of the Commonwealth realms.[2] For Canadians, the advice to the Sovereign can come from a variety of officials.[5] 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.[6]

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. The last Australian member, Doug Anthony, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, died on 20 December 2020.[7] Companions from other Commonwealth realms continue to be appointed, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, a New Zealand soprano, was given the award in 2018 and Canadian author Margaret Atwood was given the award in 2019.


The insignia of the order is in the form of an oval medallion, surmounted by a royal crown (but, until recently, 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's 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 members

Member number[n 1]NamePost-nominalsOccupationDate of appointmentAge
1 (267) The Lord TebbitCH, PCPolitician31 July 198791
2 (270) The Lord Baker of DorkingCH, PCPolitician13 April 199288
3 (271) The Lord Brooke of Sutton MandevilleCH, PCPolitician13 April 199288
4 (278) The Lord King of BridgwaterCH, PCPolitician13 April 199289
5 (282) Dame Janet BakerCH, DBEOpera singer31 December 199389
6 (287) The Lord OwenCH, PCPolitician11 June 199484
7 (289) Sir David AttenboroughOM, GCMG, CH, CVO, CBEBroadcaster; naturalist30 December 199596
8 (291) The Lord Hurd of WestwellCH, CBE, PCPolitician30 December 199592
9 (294) David HockneyOM, CHArtist14 June 199785
10 (296) The Lord HeseltineCH, PCPolitician2 August 199789
11 (297) The Lord Patten of BarnesCH, PCPolitician; former Governor of Hong Kong31 December 199778
12 (299) Sir John MajorKG, CH, PCFormer Prime Minister of the United Kingdom31 December 199879
13 (300) Bridget RileyCH, CBEArtist31 December 199891
14 (305) John de ChastelainCC, CMM, CH, CDCanadian Army officer; diplomat31 December 199885
15 (317) Dan McKenzieCH, FRSGeophysicist14 June 200380
16 (318) The Lord Hannay of ChiswickGCMG, CHDiplomat14 June 200377
17 (320) Dame Judi DenchCH, DBEActress11 June 200588
18 (321) Sir Ian McKellenCH, CBEActor31 December 200783
19 (323) The Lord Howard of LympneCH, PC, KCPolitician11 June 201181
20 (324) The Lord Young of CookhamCH, PCPolitician20 September 201281
21 (325) The Lord CoeCH, KBE, HonFRIBAPolitician; athlete; organiser of 2012 Olympics29 December 201266
22 (326) Peter HiggsCH, FRSPhysicist29 December 201293
23 (327) The Lord StrathclydeCH, PCPolitician7 January 201362
24 (328) The Lord Campbell of PittenweemCH, CBE, PC, KCPolitician15 June 201381
25 (329) Sir Nicholas SerotaCHCurator15 June 201376
26 (331) The Baroness O'Neill of BengarveCH, CBE, FBA, FRS, FMedSciPhilosopher31 December 201381
27 (332) Dame Maggie SmithCH, DBEActress14 June 201488
28 (333) The Lord Clarke of NottinghamCH, PC, KCPolitician22 July 201482
29 (336) Lady Mary PetersLG, CH, DBE, DStJAthlete1 January 201583
30 (339) The Lord WoolfCH, PC, FBA, FMedSciJudge12 June 201589
31 (341) Sir Roy StrongCH, FRSLArt historian; museum director1 January 201687
32 (343) The Lord Smith of KelvinKT, CHBusinessman11 June 201678
33 (344) The Baroness AmosLG, CH, PCPolitician; diplomat11 June 201668
34 (345) George OsborneCH, PCPolitician; former Chancellor of the Exchequer4 August 201651
35 (347) Sir Richard EyreCH, CBEDirector31 December 201679
36 (348) Dame Evelyn GlennieCH, DBEMusician31 December 201657
37 (349) Sir Alec JeffreysCH, FRSGeneticist31 December 201673
38 (353) Sir Mark ElderCH, CBEConductor17 June 201775
39 (355) Sir Paul McCartneyCH, MBEMusician17 June 201780
40 (356) J. K. RowlingCH, OBEAuthor17 June 201757
41 (357) Dame Stephanie ShirleyCH, DBE, FREngEntrepreneur; philanthropist17 June 201789
42 (358) Delia SmithCH, CBECook; author17 June 201781
43 (359) The Lord Stern of BrentfordCH, FRS, FBAEconomist17 June 201776
44 (361) The Lord BraggCH, FRS, FBA, FRSLBroadcaster30 December 201783
45 (362) Lady Antonia FraserCH, DBE, FRSLAuthor30 December 201790
46 (363) Margaret MacMillanOM, CC, CHHistorian30 December 201779
47 (364) Richard HendersonCH, FRS, FMedSciBiologist9 June 201877
48 (365) Dame Kiri Te KanawaONZ, CH, DBE, ACOpera singer9 June 201878
49 (366) Margaret AtwoodCC, OOnt, CH, FRSC, FRSLAuthor29 December 201883
50 (367) The Lord McLoughlinCH, PCPolitician10 September 201965
51 (368) Sir Elton JohnCH, CBEMusician28 December 201975
52 (369) Sir Keith ThomasCH, FBA, FLSW, FRHistSHistorian28 December 201990
53 (370) Sir Paul SmithCH, CBE, RDIFashion designer10 October 202076
54 (371) Sir David ChipperfieldCH, CBE, RA, RDI, RIBAArchitect31 December 202069
55 (372) Sir Paul NurseOM, CH, FRS, FMedSci, HonFREng, HonFBA, MAEGeneticist31 December 202174
56 (373) The Lord Field of BirkenheadCH, PC, DLPolitician31 December 202180
57 (374) Sir Quentin BlakeCH, CBE, FCSD, FRSL, RDIIllustrator1 June 202290
58 (375) Sir Salman RushdieCH, FRSLWriter1 June 202275
59 (376) Dame Marina WarnerCH, DBE, FRSL, FBAWriter1 June 202276
60 (377) Sir Michael MarmotCH, FRCP, FFPM, FMedSci, FBAAcademic31 December 202278
61 (378) Dame Mary QuantCH, DBE, FCSD, RDIFashion designer31 December 202292
62 (-)Vacant following the death of Peter Brook, on 2 July 2022.
63 (-)Vacant following the death of James Lovelock, on 26 July 2022.
64 (-)Vacant following the death of The Lord Young of Graffham on 8 December 2022.
65 (-)Vacant following the death of Dame Beryl Grey on 10 December 2022

Honorary members

Member numberNamePost-nominalsOccupationDate of appointmentAge
1 (261) Amartya SenCH, FBAEconomist11 May 200089

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 New Order". The Times. 25 August 1917. p. 7.
  2. "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. McCreery, Christopher (2005a). The Canadian Honours System. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-55002-554-5.
  6. Rayment, Leigh. "Companions of Honour". Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. Barbour, Lucy (20 December 2020). "Doug Anthony, former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister, dies aged 90". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
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