Member Of The Most Excellent Order Of The British Empire.
The ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ is an Order of chivalry established in June 1917 by King George V. The Order is composed of five classes in civil and military divisions. In descending order of seniority, these are:
1. Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE).
2. Knight Commander or Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE or DBE).
3. Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). Awarded for: 1). a prominent national role of a lesser degree or 2) a conspicuous leading role in regional affairs, through achievement or service to the community or 3). making a highly distinguished, innovative contribution in his or her area of activity.
4. Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). Awarded for: 1). a distinguished regional or country-wide role in any field or 2). through achievement or service to the community.
5. Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Awarded for: 1). achievement or service in and to the community of a responsible kind which is outstanding in its field or 2). very local 'hands-on' service which stands out as an example to others.
Only the highest two ranks automatically entitled its recipient to become either a knight or dame, an honour allowing (but not prescribing) the use of the title ‘Sir’ (male) or ‘Dame’ (female) before his or her first name (though men can be knighted separately from this and other Orders of Chivalry).
Honorary knighthoods, given to individuals who are not nationals of a realm where Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State, permit use of the honour as a post-nominal but not as a title before their name.
Awards in the Order of the British Empire in the Commonwealth Realms were discontinued with the establishment of national systems of honours and awards such as the Order of Canada, the Order of Australia and the New Zealand Order of Merit. Foreign recipients are classified as honorary members of the Order they receive, and do not contribute to the numbers restricted to that Order as full members do.
King George V founded the order to fill gaps in the British honours system, in particular, he wished to honour the many thousands of people who had served in numerous non-combatant capacities during the First World War. Originally, the Order included only one division; however, in 1918, soon after its foundation, it was formally divided into Military and Civil Divisions.
The British monarch is Sovereign of the Order, and appoints all other members of the Order (by convention, on the advice of the Government). The next most senior member is the Grand Master, of which there have been three: Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales (1917–1936); Queen Mary (1936–1953); and the current Grand Master, the Duke of Edinburgh (since 1953).
The Order is limited to 300 Knights and Dames Grand Cross, 845 Knights and Dames Commander, and 8,960 Commanders. There are no limits applied to the total number of members of the fourth and fifth classes, but no more than 858 Officers and 1,464 Members may be appointed per year. Appointments are made on the advice of the governments of the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth realms. By convention, female judges of the High Court of Justice are created Dames Commander after appointment, while male judges become Knights Bachelor.
Although the Order of the British Empire has by far the highest number of members of the British Orders of Chivalry, there are fewer appointments to knighthoods than in other orders. Most Knights Commander are honorary members or British citizens living abroad, with only a handful being residents of the United Kingdom. The grade of Dame Commander, on the other hand, is the most common grade of dame in the British honours system, and is awarded in circumstances in which men would be created Knights Bachelor.
Most members are citizens of the United Kingdom or the limited number of Commonwealth realms without their own national system of honours and awards. Citizens of other countries, however, may be admitted as ‘honorary members’. They do not count towards the aforementioned numerical limits, and are not formally addressed as ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’. They may be made full members if they subsequently become citizens of Commonwealth realms.
It should be noted that at the foundation of the Order, in 1917, the ‘Medal of the Order of the British Empire’ was also instituted (for junior government and military officials who were deemed not senior enough to enter the ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ – as described above).
In 1922, this medal was split into two separate awards, 1. the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry (EGM – which was to be awarded for acts of gallantry), and 2. the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (which was for ‘Meritorious Service’ and is generally known as the British Empire Medal - BEM) which was awarded for meritorious services and was the lower level award of the Order of the British Empire’.
Recipients of the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire are entitled to use the post-nominal letters ‘MBE’.
The medal is of a cross patonce design, 50mm wide and 60mm high and is struck in silver. The obverse of this medal contains a circle with the inscription; ‘FOR GOD AND THE EMPIRE’.
Within this, at the centre, medals issued prior to 1936 contained a figure of Britannia, for those issued post 1936 a co-joined left facing crowned bust of George V and Queen Mary.
The reverse contains the Royal cypher at the centre.
The ribbon suspender is in the form of a ring that is attached to the Royal crown that surmounts the medal.
The medal was issued un-named.
The neck ribbon is 44mm wide (medal ribbon 38mm) and rose-pink in colour, with a narrow pearl-grey stripe along either edge and down the middle.
The neck ribbon is 44mm wide (medal ribbon 38mm) and rose-pink in colour with a narrow pearl-grey stripe along either edge.
Between 1917 and 1936, the ribbon for both the Military and the Civil issue was purple in colour - with the military issue having a central red stripe.
None were authorised for this medal.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
MBE 1st type (Britannia) from
MBE 2nd type from
* It should be noted that the values quoted above reflect the average price that a medal dealer may expect to sell this medal for - please see the ‘things you should know’ web page for more details about valuing medals.
Further Historical Context
This section contains information on the following:-
- The British Honours System.
- The London Gazette.
The British Honours System - The British honours system is a means of rewarding individuals' personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. The system consists of three types of award: honours, decorations and medals:
Honours are used to recognise merit in terms of achievement and service, decorations tend to be used to recognise specific deeds and medals are used to recognise bravery, long and or valuable service and or good conduct.
Although the Anglo-Saxon monarchs are known to have rewarded their loyal subjects with rings and other symbols of favour, it was the Normans who introduced knighthoods as part of their feudal government.
The first English order of chivalry, the Order of the Garter, was created in 1348 by Edward III. Since then the system has evolved to address the changing need to recognise other forms of service to the United Kingdom.
As the head of state, the Sovereign remains the 'fount of honour', but the system for identifying and recognising candidates to honour has changed considerably over time.
Various orders of knighthood have been created (see below) as well as awards for military service, bravery, merit, and achievement which take the form of decorations or medals.
Most medals are not graded. Each one recognises specific service and as such there are normally set criteria which must be met. These criteria may include a period of time and will often delimit a particular geographic region. Medals are not normally presented by the Sovereign.
A full list is printed in the 'order of wear', published infrequently by the London Gazette.
A complete list of approximately 1350 names is published twice a year, at New Year and on the date of the Sovereign's (official) birthday. Since their decisions are inevitably subjective, the twice-yearly honours lists often provoke criticism from those who feel strongly about particular cases.
Candidates are identified by public or private bodies, by government departments or are nominated by members of the public. Depending on their roles, those people selected by committee are submitted either to the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, or Secretary of State for Defence for their approval before being sent to the Sovereign for final approval.
Certain honours are awarded solely at the Sovereign's discretion, such as the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle, the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of Merit and the Royal Family Order.
The awards are then presented by the Sovereign or her designated representative. The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal have deputised for the Queen at investiture ceremonies at Buckingham Palace.
This information was taken from ‘Wikipedia’. The original article and details of the authors can be found here. It is reproduced on this web-site under the ‘creative commons’ licence which can be found here.
The London Gazette - The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published. The London Gazette claims to be the oldest surviving English newspaper and the oldest continuously published newspaper in the UK, having been first published on 7 November 1665 as The Oxford Gazette.
This title is also claimed by the Stamford Mercury and Berrow's Worcester Journal, because the Gazette is not a conventional newspaper offering general news coverage. It does not have a large circulation.
Other official newspapers of the UK government are the Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes, which, apart from reproducing certain materials of nationwide interest published in The London Gazette, also contain publications specific to Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively.
In turn, The London Gazette not only carries notices of UK-wide interest, but those relating specifically to entities or people in England and Wales. However, certain notices that are only of specific interest to Scotland or Northern Ireland are also required to be published in The London Gazette.
The London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes are published by TSO on behalf of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. They are subject to Crown Copyright.
In the British Armed Forces, the despatch is published in the London Gazette.