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Royal Victorian Order

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Dec 15, 2021

The Royal Victorian Order (French: Ordre royal de Victoria)[lower-alpha 1] is a dynastic order of knighthood established in 1896 by Queen Victoria. It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the Commonwealth realms,[1] members of the monarch’s family, or to any viceroy or senior representative of the monarch.[2][3] The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the sovereign of the order, the order’s motto is Victoria, and its official day is 20 June.[lower-alpha 2] The order’s chapel is the Savoy Chapel in London.

“RVO” redirects here. For other uses, see RVO (disambiguation).
“LVO” redirects here. For the large countable ordinal, see Large Veblen ordinal.
British order of chivalry established 1896

Royal Victorian Order

Breast Star of Knights/Dames Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Awarded by the monarch of the United Kingdom and the Dominions (1896–1952), Commonwealth realms (since 1952)
Type Dynastic order
Established 21 April 1896
Motto Victoria
Eligibility All living citizens of the Commonwealth realms
Awarded for Personal service to the sovereign
Status Currently constituted
Founder Victoria
Sovereign Elizabeth II
Grand Master Anne, Princess Royal
Chancellor The Lord Parker of Minsmere
Grades
  • Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GCVO)
  • Knight/Dame Commander (KCVO/DCVO)
  • Commander (CVO)
  • Lieutenant (LVO)
  • Member (MVO)

Ribbon of an ordinary member of the order

Ribbon of an honorary member of the order

There is no limit on the number of individuals honoured at any grade,[1] and admission remains at the sole discretion of the monarch,[1] with each of the order’s five grades and one medal with three levels representing different levels of service. While all those honoured may use the prescribed styles of the order—the top two grades grant titles of knighthood, and all grades accord distinct post-nominal letters—the Royal Victorian Order’s precedence amongst other honours differs from realm to realm and admission to some grades may be barred to citizens of those realms by government policy.

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Queen Victoria in 1897, the year after she founded the Royal Victorian Order

Prior to the close of the 19th century, most general honours within the British Empire were bestowed by the sovereign on the advice of her British ministers, who sometimes forwarded advice from ministers of the Crown in the Dominions and colonies (appointments to the then most senior orders of chivalry, the Most Noble Order of the Garter and the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, had been made on ministerial advice since the 18th century and were not restored to the personal gift of the sovereign until 1946 and 1947, respectively[4]). Queen Victoria thus established on 21 April 1896 the Royal Victorian Order as a junior and personal order of knighthood that allowed her to bestow directly to an empire-wide community honours for personal services.[1][2][5][6] The organisation was founded a year preceding Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, so as to give the Queen time to complete a list of first inductees. The order’s official day was made 20 June of each year, marking the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.[6]

In 1902, King Edward VII created the Royal Victorian Chain “as a personal decoration for royal personages and a few eminent British subjects” and it was the highest class of the Royal Victorian Order.[7] It is today distinct from the order, though it is officially issued by the chancery of the Royal Victorian Order.

After 1931, when the Statute of Westminster came into being and the Dominions of the British Empire became independent states, equal in status to Britain,[8][9] the Royal Victorian Order remained an honour open to all the King’s realms; thus, as with the monarch who conferred it, the order ceased to be purely British.[1] The order was open to foreigners from its inception, the Prefect of Alpes-Maritimes and the Mayor of Nice being the first to receive the honour in 1896.[1]

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