An Order of knighthood
founded by Queen Victoria
in 1896 to reward distinguished personal
service to the sovereign
. This title is usually conferred on officials of the Royal Household
, and British Ambassador
s who have aided in the organisation of State Visit
The Order is arranged into five classes, Knights or Dames Grand
Cross (GCVO); Knights or Dames Commanders (KCVO or DCVO); Commanders (CVO); Lieutenants (LVO), and Members (MVO)
Appointment to the Order was entirely the Sovereign's personal gift, and there have never been any limits on the number of members allowed. The anniversary of the institution of the Order is 20 June, the day of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne, and it is on this day, once every four years, that the Order holds its service in the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, a 'royal peculiar' which for historic reasons is in the private possession of the Sovereign in his or her right as the Duke of Lancaster . Recently this chapel has become too small to accomodate all of the members, meaning that the service has more recently been moved to St. George's Chapel, at Windsor Castle.
The regalia of the Order consists of a Star with a white Maltese Cross in the centre, upon which is mounted a blue and red enamel badge, with Queen Victoria's monogramme emblazoned across the middle. In 1902, Edward VII included a collar in the Orders uniform, that was made up of linked royal plant symbols (Thistles, Roses, and Shamrock) connected in the centre by Queen Victoria's monogramme, with the White Maltese Cross emblem hanging below it.