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Order of the British Empire
Neck decoration (in Military Div.)
Sovereign of the United Kingdom
|Type||Order of chivalry|
|Motto||For God and the Empire|
|Eligibility||British nationals, or anyone who has made a significant achievement for the United Kingdom|
|Awarded for||Prominent national or regional achievements|
|Sovereign||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Grand Master||Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh|
|Grades||Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GBE)
Knight/Dame Commander (KBE/DBE)
Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry
Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service
|Next (higher)||Royal Victorian Order|
|Next (lower)||Varies, depending on rank|
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is the "order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy"; rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the Civil Service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V, and comprises five classes, in civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male, or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.
Recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire were at first made on the nomination of the United Kingdom, the self-governing Dominions of the Empire (later Commonwealth) and the Viceroy of India. Nominations continue today from Commonwealth countries that participate in recommending British (Imperial) honours. Some Commonwealth countries such as Canada ceased recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire more than a decade before the creation of the Order of Canada while others such as Australia continued to recommend the Order of the British Empire for nearly 15 years after the creation of the Order of Australia.
The five classes of appointment to the Order are, in descending order of precedence:
The senior two ranks of Knight or Dame Grand Cross, and Knight or Dame Commander, entitle their members to use the title of Sir for men and Dame for women before their forename. Most members are citizens of the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth realms that use the Imperial system of honours and awards.
Honorary knighthoods are appointed to citizens of nations where the Queen is not Head of State, and may permit use of post-nominal letters but not the title of Sir or Dame. Occasionally, honorary appointees are, incorrectly, referred to as Sir or Dame - Bill Gates or Bob Geldof, for example. Honorary appointees who later become a citizen of a Commonwealth realm can convert their appointment from honorary to substantive, then enjoy all privileges of membership of the order including use of the title of Sir and Dame for the senior two ranks of the Order. An example is Irish broadcaster the late Terry Wogan, who was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order in 2005, and on successful application for British citizenship, held alongside his Irish citizenship, was made a substantive member and subsequently styled as Sir Terry Wogan.
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