What is a Companion of Honour and who holds the title?

Twice a year - at new year and in June on the date of the Queen's official birthday - British honour recipients are announced in The Gazette. Here we look at the Order of the Companions of Honour.

Order of the Companions of Honours

What is the Order of the Companions of Honour?

The Order of the Companions of Honour is an honour given to people in the Commonwealth realms who have made a significant contribution to the arts, science, medicine or the government over a long period of time.

It was founded on 4 June 1917 by George V and the first appointments were published in The London Gazette on 24 August 1917 (Gazette issue 30250), with all recipients decorated “for services in connection with the war".

The Companions of Honour is limited to just 65 people at any one time and those who receive it wear the initials CH after their name. Its motto reads "In action faithful and in honour clear".

Who has been appointed to the Companions of Honour?

The most recent appointment to the Order of the Companions of Honour was architect Sir David Chipperfield, who was announced in the 2021 Queen's Birthday honours (Gazette issue 63218) on 30 December 2020.

The longest serving member of the Order of the Companions of Honour is former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Sir Michael Somare (Gazette issue 47556), who was appointed in 1978, while the youngest member of the order is former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (Gazette issue 61678).

While the 65 members of the Companions of Honour are limited to British citizens and citizens of the Commonwealth reals, foreigners or Commonwealth citizens from outside the Commonwealth realms can also be honorary members of the Order. For example, South African clergyman and human rights activist Desmond Tutu received an honorary membership in 2015.

Notable current members of the Order of the Companions of Honour include:

Notable former members of the Order of the Companions of Honour include:

See also

100 years of the Order of the Companions of Honour

What is the difference between a CBE, OBE, MBE and a knighthood?

Everything you need to know about nominating someone for a UK honour

The New Year Honours list 2021

Image: Russell Malloch

Publication updated: 23 June 2021