What is the 'Order of Wear' for British honours, decorations and medals?

Published in The Gazette, the Order of Wear officially describes the sequence in which recipients should place their honours, decorations and medals. But which British honour should be worn first?

Order of Wear for UK Honours Decorations Medals

What is the ‘Order of Wear’?

The Order of Wear is an official list which describes the order in which honours, decorations and medals should be worn in the United Kingdom, certain countries of the Commonwealth and in Overseas Territories.

Updates to the Order of Wear are published in The Gazette and the current Order of Wear was published on 11 January 2019. (Gazette issue 62529)

As well as stating the sequence in which honours and military medals should be worn, the Order of Wear also explains miscellaneous details such as whether honours entitle holders to use appropriate letters after their name and whether ribands of the Orders are worn with Undress Uniform.

Which British honours, decorations and medals should be worn first?

The Order of Wear places the Victoria Cross at the top of the list, followed by the George Cross. The various orders of knighthood are then arranged in order of date of creation and then by rank of order. For example, a Knight Grand Cross or Dame Cross (GBE) always precedes a Knight Commander (KBE) or Dame Commander (DBE) in the Order of the British Empire.

Where honours within an order have the same rank, precedence is given to the honour which was received earliest. Single-rank honours, such as the Order of Merit, the Order of the Companions of Honour, the Distinguished Service Order and the Imperial Service Order are placed at positions of seniority on the Order of Wear.

The Order of Wear is currently split into the following categories (in order of precedence):

  • Victoria Cross
  • George Cross
  • British Orders of Knighthood
  • Decorations, Medals for Gallantry and Distinguished Conduct
  • Badge of Honour
  • Campaign Medals and Stars
  • Polar Medals
  • Imperial Service Medal
  • Police Medals for Valuable Service
  • Jubilee, Coronation and Durbar Medals
  • Efficiency and Long Service Decorations and Medals
  • Commonwealth Realm’s Orders, Decorations and Medals
  • Other Commonwealth Members Orders, Decorations and Medals
  • Foreign Orders, Decorations and Medals

It should be noted that official decorations, medals or emblems should only be worn if you are entitled to and have been approved for acceptance and wear. Unofficial medals should not be worn with official orders, decorations and medals. Should you have any queries about the Order of Wear, you can contact the Medals Office.

See also

Order of Wear

Major military awards of World War 1: VC to MiD

The history of Armistice Day

Find out more

Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility (Gov.uk)

How to look for records of British military campaign and service medals (TNA)

Publication date: 25 November 2019