The Royal Victorian Order

The Royal Victorian Order is awarded in recognition of distinguished service to the Monarch and members of the Royal Family, both in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth. 

The Current Officers of the Order are:

        Sovereign: His Majesty King Charles III

        Grand Master: Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal 

        Chancellor: The Right Honourable the Lord Parker of Minsmere GCVO KCB

        Secretary: Sir Michael Stevens KCVO

        Registrar: Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Segrave

        Chaplain: The Reverend Canon Thomas Woodhouse

        Honorary Genealogist: David White, Garter Principal King of Arms

History of the Order

The Royal Victorian Order was established by Queen Victoria in 1896 as a personal award to recognise “distinguished personal service” to the Monarch and her household. It was the first Order of Chivalry that was given at the sole discretion of the Sovereign; the government, at the time, having almost complete control over the distribution of honours. The new Order was entirely outside the jurisdiction of the government; other honours were bestowed by the Sovereign with the advice of their Ministers. The Order of the Garter did not become the personal gift of the Monarch until 1946 and The Order of the Thistle in 1947. The Royal Victorian Order was founded on the 21st April 1896; one year prior to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

When the Order was founded, three Officers were instituted to oversee the Order: the Chancellor, held ex-officio by the Lord Chamberlain, the Secretary, held ex-officio by the Keeper of the Privy Purse, and the Registrar, held ex-officio by the Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. The Offices of Grand Master, Chaplain, and Honorary Genealogist were later introduced in 1937; Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was appointed the first Grand Master, a position she held until her death in 2002, the Chaplain of the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy was appointed the ex-officio position of Chaplain, and the Honorary Genealogist held by one of the Sovereign’s Officers of Arms.

The current Grand Master of the Royal Victorian Order is Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal who was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007.

In 1936, King Edward VIII amended the Statutes of the Order, originally enacted in 1899, to allow women to be included in the Order. Soon after, he appointed his mother, Queen Mary, as the first Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.

The Order was originally comprised of five classes, with the top two classes holding the titles (Sir/Dame); Knights and Dames Grand Cross, Knights and Dames Commander, Commander, Member of the Fourth Class, and Member of the Fifth Class. In 1984, it was decided that the Member of the Fourth Class would be changed to Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, with the postnominal LVO, and the Member of the Fifth Class would be known as a Member of the Royal Victorian Order, with the postnominal MVO.

The Royal Victorian Chain:

After Queen Victoria died in 1901, King Edward VII decided to create a new honour as ‘a pre-eminent mark of The Sovereign’s esteem and affection.’ The Royal Victorian Chain was instituted in 1902 and while it is closely related in colour and name, it is a distinct and separate honour. The Royal Victorian Chain ranks above the Royal Victorian Order and was originally reserved for members of the Royal Family. It is now also conferred upon the highest signatories such as foreign monarchs, heads of state, and high ranking officials.

Created in honour of his mother, Queen Victoria, “as a personal decoration for Sovereigns, Princes and other Royal Personage and for a few eminent British subjects,” the first recipients of the Royal Victorian Chain were: his son George, Prince of Wales, the future King George V; his brother Prince Arthur; and Frederick Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury at King Edward VII’s Coronation.


Contact Us

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If any of your contact details change, please complete the form here. 

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