SPECIAL honors such as OBE, MBE, CBE and Knighthood are awarded to recognize people’s outstanding achievements and merits.
But what is the difference between them? Here you will find everything you need to know.
What is the difference between an MBE, OBE and CBE?
The British honors system rewards people with honours, decorations and medals as public recognition of their merit, merit or bravery.
Throughout history, monarchs have rewarded those who have shown service, loyalty, or bravery with gifts or titles.
The best-known awards represent different ranks in the Order of the British Empire.
This order was established by George V in 1917 to recognize outstanding contributions to the war effort. Today, this order rewards people from all walks of life with well-known honors.
These include (in order of precedence):
Knight or Dame of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire GBE, KBE or DBE (Knight or Dame):
- The two highest ranks of the Order of the British Empire are Knight or Dame Grand Cross and Knight or Dame Commander. Both ranks entitle their members to use the title “Sir” for men and “Dame” for women before their first namee.
- This award is given to those who have made a significant contribution to an activity, usually at a national level. Knight and dame dignity are traditionally bestowed by the king with a sword stroke.
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE):
- This award is given for a prominent but minor role at the national level or a leading role at the regional level. You can also receive an award for an outstanding, innovative contribution in any field.
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE):
- This award is given for an important local role in an activity, including individuals who have achieved national recognition through their work in their chosen area.
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE):
- Awarded for outstanding achievement or service to the community. This will have a long-term, significant impact and serve as a model for others.
The recipients of the awards are announced just before the New Year and around the King’s State Birthday.
In June 2023, King Charles’ first birthday celebrations were announced.
TV darlings Davina McCall and Line of Duty star Vicky McClure have both been made MBEs, along with broadcaster Ken Bruce, former England international Eniola Aluko and former Leicester City and Manchester United defender Jonny Evans.
Also on the list of 1,171 recipients was 59-year-old footballer and pundit Ian Wright, who was made an OBE for his services to football and charity.
The British honorees are officially announced in The Gazette.
Most awards are given on the advice of the Cabinet Office and anyone can make a recommendation if they know someone they think is worthy, but they must still take an active part in the nomination for which you are nominating them.
Can women be knighted?
Rather than being knighted, women are instead granted the dignity of dame.
The knighthood or dame is one of the highest honors a person can achieve in the United Kingdom.
The title of lady as the female equivalent of knight was not introduced until 1917.
It says in the Gazette: “The two highest ranks of the Order of the British Empire are Knight or Dame Grand Cross and Knight or Dame Commander.
“Both ranks entitle their members to use the title ‘Sir’ for males and ‘Dame’ for females before their first name.”
Women appointed to the Eldest Order of the Garter or Eldest and Noble Order of the Thistle receive the title “Lady” instead of “Lady” – which is used in place of the male title “Sir”.
What is the Order of the British Empire?
The British honors system actually has several orders, mainly related to the monarchy, military and colonial officials.
But King George V wanted to fill the gap by creating an order that would honor ordinary people.
In particular, George V wanted to create an order to honor the many thousands of people who had served in various non-combat capacities during the First World War.
However, the order has come under criticism for its connection to the now-defunct British Empire.
The Government previously considered changing the name to the Order of British Excellence but stated on 29 December 2020 that ‘Empire’ would not be replaced.
Helen Ewen, head of the Honors Secretariat, said: “There are no plans at this time to make any changes.”
What entitles you to an MBE, OBE or CBE?
Being presented with a royal award comes with many benefits.
Anyone selected for an honor is invited to an ‘investiture’ ceremony at a royal residence, where the King, or sometimes Prince William, Princess Anne or Prince Edward, presents them with the insignia – a medal – of the Order.
This usually occurs a few months after the honors are announced, but recipients can use their new title or letter after their name even after the awards are announced.
Members can also add a special element to their Coat of Arms to indicate their affiliation with the Order.
Has anyone ever turned down an honor?
There have been several cases where a celebrity or scientist declined the honor for political or personal reasons.
Names include David Bowie, who turned down a CBE on Queen Elizabeth’s birthday in 2000.
Stars turning down OBEs include celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese.
John Lennon is one of the few recipients to return his honor by sending his MBE back in 1969 to protest Britain’s involvement in the Nigerian Civil War.
Stephen Hawking also declined his honors in the 1990s because governments were concerned with funding and cutbacks in science.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE RECEIVE AWARDS FOR?
- Making a difference in their community or workspace
- Strengthen Britain’s reputation
- Many years of voluntary service
- innovation and entrepreneurship
- Changing things with a focus on performance
- Improving the lives of people who are less able to help themselves
- show moral courage