A Guide to the Queen's Birthday Honours


An important event in the Royal calendar, The Queen gives out honours to British civilians twice a year.


09th May 2018

The Rubens at the Palace

The Queen’s Birthday Honours are a chance for the British monarch to commend national and commonwealth individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to society. The Queen gives out honours twice a year, on New Year’s Day and on her official birthday, which takes place on the second Saturday in June. The tradition was first instigated during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1860, with the New Year Honours added 30 years later. Today, The Queen confers a large variety of titles on people from a wide range of backgrounds and industries, and the awards are received at an Investiture Ceremony at Buckingham Palace, just across the road from the Rubens at the Palace



The honours recognise those who have served Britain in a significant way, or had a major impact on public life. The majority of awards are given on the recommendation of the British government’s Cabinet Office but it’s also possible for anyone to suggest someone they believe to be worthy of an honour via nomination. Knight and Dame are among the best-known titles and can be awarded to people in any field who have had a significant impact on a national level. Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) are designed to commend individuals who have made a major impact in their industry, either at national or community level.

Queen's Birthday Honours

In 2017, 1,109 people received an award in The Queen’s Birthday Honours, with recipients chosen from a broad range of categories such as philanthropy, business, education, health and entertainment. Each year, the awards presented include Companion of Honour, which singles out those in either in government, science, medicine or the arts who have made a sizeable contribution to the country. Previous recipients of the Companion of Honour include Sir Paul McCartney, for his services to music, J.K.Rowling for her contributions to literature and charity, and chef Delia Smith. Additionally, The British Empire Medal (BEM) is awarded to those who’ve dedicated their lives to the local community and Overseas Territories Police and Fire Service Medals are also given out. People who have aided The Queen in a personal manner are eligible for the Royal Victorian Order. 

In addition, the Queen commends civilians who have demonstrated outstanding bravery with The George Cross, The George Medal and The Queen’s Gallantry Medal. Similarly, The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery and The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air are also given to those who risked their lives.


  With Buckingham Palace located just across the road from The Rubens at the Palace, guests at the hotel will have plenty of opportunity to learn more about Royal ceremonies and traditions.

Image Credits: Lead image © iStock/rterdayne. Buckingham Palace © iStock/Alphotographic. The Royal Standard flying at Buckingham Palace © iStock/davidf. Signpost to Buckingham Palace © iStock/boryak.

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