Different Types of Honours and Awards

The United Kingdom uses different types of national honours and awards in recognition of achievement, bravery, and commitment carried out by individuals.

Even so, the honours committee has the role of deciding which specific honour or award goes to every individual put forward, recommended, or nominated.

The Order of the Companions of Honour

The Companion of Honour award goes to someone for making a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government.

As a rule, this type of offering by an individual would be one that lasts over a long period of time.

Knight or Dame

Having a major contribution in any activity, most often at national level, could earn you the award of knighthood or damehood (the female equivalent).

People who work in the same area as the nominee often see their contribution as inspirational and significant. It generally requires significant commitment carried out over a long period of time.

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

The CBE is usually awarded to people with a prominent or leading role carried out at regional level. This type of award also recognises a distinguished and innovative contribution to an area.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

The OBE is most often awarded to individuals with a major local role in any activity. People recognised nationally in their chosen area may be honoured with the OBE.

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Offering outstanding achievement (or service in the community) may result in an MBE. This award is evidence of a long-term, significant impact and often stands out as a good example for others to follow.

British Empire Medal (BEM)

The BEM is awarded to candidates with a ‘hands-on’ service within the local community. Typical examples include:

Royal Victorian Order (RVO)

Her Majesty The Queen gives the RVO to people who have helped her on a personal basis. For example, British ambassadors or members of the Royal household staff.

British Orders

There is no need to specify any particular Order when you are nominating someone for an honour or award. The committee will decide which order someone should be a member of.

  • Order of the Bath: Senior civil servants and military officers can nominate.
  • Order of St Michael and St George: Diplomats and people serving the United Kingdom abroad can nominate.
  • Order of the British Empire: Anyone can nominate.
  • Companion of Honour (award): Anyone can nominate.
  • Royal Victorian Order: People who have served the Queen or the Monarchy in a personal way can nominate.

Note: Most awards fall under the Order of the British Empire. You can also make recommendations for bravery awards.

HM The Queen’s Honours Lists

The lists showing who received honours are published twice per year, once at New Year and again on the official birthday of the Queen (traditionally around the middle of June).

Note: The British history section contains several articles about the Queen, including the Royal Family tour rules when taking trips abroad and why they matter.

New Year Honours 2022

The complete New Year Honours list for 2022 recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people throughout the United Kingdom.

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022

The Queen’s Birthday Honours recognised 1,129 people for various honours and awards during the year of 2021.

Previous Honours Lists

The Cabinet Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office produce a list of honours from previous years and reports on the UK honours system.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Honorary Awards

The FCO produced details of Honorary British awards 2021 approved to foreign nationals by The Queen in the year 2021.

Civilian Gallantry Awards

You can read more about the names of individuals who received The Queen’s Gallantry Medal and The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in 2021.

Related Help Guides

Note: The short video contains footage when The Queen knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore. He was a 100-year-old individual who raised over £32 million pounds for NHS charities.

Types of Honours and National Award in United Kingdom