Order of St Michael and St George

This article is about the British dynastic order of knighthood. For other uses, see Order of Saint Michael (disambiguation).
Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George
Star of a Knight or Dame Grand Cross
Awarded by

Sovereign of the United Kingdom
Type Order
Motto Auspicium Melioris Ævi
Token of a Better Age
Awarded for At the monarch's pleasure
Status Currently constituted
Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II
Grades (w/ post-nominals) Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GCMG)
Knight/Dame Commander (KCMG/DCMG)
Companion (CMG)
Established 28 April 1818
Next (higher) Order of the Star of India
Next (lower) Order of the Indian Empire
Ribbon bar of the Order of St Michael and St George

The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is a British order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later King George IV,[1][2] while he was acting as regent for his father, King George III.

It is named in honour of two military saints, St Michael and St George.

The Order of St Michael and St George was originally awarded to those holding commands or high position in the Mediterranean territories acquired in the Napoleonic Wars, and was subsequently extended to holders of similar office or position in other territories of the British Empire.[2] It is at present awarded to men and women who hold high office or who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country, and can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs.[2]


The Order includes three classes, in descending order of seniority and rank:

It is used to honour individuals who have rendered important services in relation to Commonwealth or foreign nations. People are appointed to the Order rather than awarded it. British Ambassadors to foreign nations are regularly appointed as KCMGs or CMGs. For example, the former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir David Manning, was appointed a CMG when he worked for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and then after his appointment as British Ambassador to the US, he was promoted to a Knight Commander (KCMG). It is the traditional award for members of the FCO.

The Order's motto is Auspicium melioris ævi (Latin for "Token of a better age"). Its patron saints, as the name suggests, are St. Michael the Archangel, and St. George, patron saint of England. One of its primary symbols is that of St Michael trampling over and subduing Satan in battle.

The Order is the sixth-most senior in the British honours system, after The Most Noble Order of the Garter, The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, and The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India. The third of the aforementioned Orders—which relates to Ireland, no longer fully a part of the United Kingdom—still exists but is in disuse; no appointments have been made to it since 1936. The last of the Orders on the list, related to India, has also been in disuse since that country's independence in 1947.


On the Order's insignia, St Michael is often depicted subduing Satan

The Order was founded to commemorate the British amical protectorate over the Ionian Islands, which had come under British control in 1814 and had been granted its own constitution as the United States of the Ionian Islands in 1817. It was intended to reward "natives of the Ionian Islands and of the island of Malta and its dependencies, and for such other subjects of His Majesty as may hold high and confidential situations in the Mediterranean".[3]

In 1864, however, the protectorate ended and the Ionian Islands became a part of Greece. The Order's basis was revised in 1868; membership was granted to those who "hold high and confidential offices within Her Majesty's colonial possessions, and in reward for services rendered to the Crown in relation to the foreign affairs of the Empire". Accordingly, numerous Governors-General and Governors feature as recipients of awards in the order.

In 1965, the order was open for women,[4] with Evelyn Bark becoming the first CMG.[5]


The British Sovereign is the 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. The office was formerly filled by the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands; now, however, Grand Masters are chosen by the Sovereign. Grand Masters include:

The Order originally included 15 Knights Grand Cross, 20 Knights Commanders, and 25 Companions but has since been expanded and the current limits on membership are 125, 375, and 1,750 respectively. Members of the Royal Family who are appointed to the Order do not count towards the limit, nor are foreign members appointed as "honorary members".


The Order has six officers. The Order's King of Arms is not a member of the College of Arms, like many other heraldic officers. The Usher of the Order is known as the Gentleman Usher of the Blue Rod; he does not, unlike his Order of the Garter equivalent (the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod), perform any duties related to the House of Lords.

Habit and insignia

Mantle of the Order.
Representation of the star of a Knight or Dame Grand Cross
Star and badge of a Knight or Dame Commander
Collar worn by a Knight or Dame Grand Cross

Members of the Order wear elaborate regalia on important occasions (such as coronations), which vary by rank:

At less important occasions, simpler insignia are used:

On certain "collar days" designated by the Sovereign, members attending formal events may wear the Order's collar over their military uniform or morning wear. When collars are worn (either on collar days or on formal occasions such as coronations), the badge is suspended from the collar. All collars which have been awarded since 1948 must be returned to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. The other insignia may be retained.


The chapel of the Order of St Michael and St George in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

The original home of the Order was the Palace of St. Michael and St. George in Corfu, the residence of the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and the seat of the Ionian Senate. Since 1906, the Order's chapel has been in St Paul's Cathedral in London. (The Cathedral also serves as home to the chapels of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor.) Religious services for the whole Order are held quadrennially; new Knights and Dames Grand Cross are installed at these services.

The Sovereign and the Knights and Dames Grand Cross are allotted stalls in the choir of the chapel, above which their heraldic devices are displayed. Perched on the pinnacle of a knight's stall is his helm, decorated with a mantling and topped by his crest. Under English heraldic law, women other than monarchs do not bear helms or crests; instead, the coronet appropriate to the dame's rank, if there is one, is used. Above the crest or coronet, the stall's occupant's heraldic banner is hung, emblazoned with his or her coat of arms. At a considerably smaller scale, to the back of the stall is affixed a piece of brass (a "stall plate") displaying its occupant's name, arms and date of admission into the Order. Upon the death of a Knight, the banner, helm, mantling and crest are taken down. The stall plates, however, are not removed; rather, they remain permanently affixed somewhere about the stall, so that the stalls of the chapel are festooned with a colourful record of the Order's Knights and Dames Grand Cross since 1906.

The reredos within the chapel were commissioned from Henry Poole in 1927.[6]

Precedence and privileges

The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the Order, and his Duchess
German shipping magnate Rickmer Clasen Rickmers (1807-1886) wearing the insignia of a C.M.G. (centre)

Members of the Order of St Michael are assigned positions in the order of precedence in England and Wales. Wives of male members also feature on the order of precedence, as do sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders; relatives of female members, however, are not assigned any special precedence. (As a general rule, individuals can derive precedence from their fathers or husbands, but not from their mothers or wives.)

Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders prefix "Sir", and Dames Grand Cross and Dames Commanders prefix "Dame", to their forenames. Wives of Knights may prefix "Lady" to their surnames, but no equivalent privilege exists for husbands of Dames. Such forms are not used by peers and princes, except when the names of the former are written out in their fullest forms. Furthermore, honorary (foreign) members and clergymen do not receive the accolade and thus are not entitled to use the prefix "Sir" or "Dame". Knights and Dames Grand Cross use the post-nominal "GCMG"; Knights Commanders and Dames Commanders use "KCMG" and "DCMG" respectively; Companions use "CMG".

Knights and Dames Grand Cross are also entitled to receive heraldic supporters. They may, furthermore, encircle their arms with a depiction of the circlet (a circle bearing the motto) and the collar; the former is shown either outside or on top of the latter. Knights and Dames Commanders and Companions may display the circlet, but not the collar, surrounding their arms. The badge is depicted suspended from the collar or circlet.

Riband, star and collar of GCMG worn by Lord Grenfell

In the satirical British television programme Yes Minister, Jim Hacker MP is told an old joke[7] by his Private Secretary Bernard Woolley about what the various post-nominals stand for. Season 2, Episode 2 "Doing the Honours":

Woolley: In the service, CMG stands for "Call Me God". And KCMG for "Kindly Call Me God".
Hacker: What does GCMG stand for?
Woolley: "God Calls Me God".

Ian Fleming's spy, James Bond, a commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (R.N.V.R.) was fictionally decorated with the CMG in 1953. (This is mentioned in the novel From Russia, with Love and on-screen in his obituary in Skyfall.) He was offered the KCMG (which would have elevated him from a Companion in the Order to a Knight Commander in the Order) in The Man with the Golden Gun, but he rejected that offer as he did not wish to become a public figure.

Dame Judi Dench's character "M" is "offered" early retirement and a GCMG in Skyfall after a series of unfortunate events resulting in the loss of a list that named every NATO espionage operative.

Long-time Doctor Who companion Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart wore the ribbon of the order as the highest of his decorations in the series' classic era.

Current Knights and Dames Grand Cross

Riband, badge and star of a GCMG worn by Lord Tweedsmuir.

(NOTE: For clarity, the table denotes holders of the GCMG only; all other posts-nominal shown, for respective members, are for the sake of completeness alone.)

Knights and Dames Grand Cross

Number Name Post-Nominals Known for Year
1 Zanzibar Sayyid Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah of Zanzibar GCMG Sultan of Zanzibar 1963
2 HRH The Duke of Kent KG GCMG GCVO Royal family 1967
3 United Kingdom Sir Clive Rose GCMG British diplomat 1981
4 Australia The Rt Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE PC QC Governor General of Australia 1982
5 United Kingdom Sir Hugh Cortazzi GCMG British diplomat 1984
6 United Kingdom Sir James Craig GCMG British diplomat 1984
7 United Kingdom Sir John Thomson GCMG British diplomat 1985
8 United Kingdom Sir Antony Acland KG GCMG GCVO British diplomat 1986
9 United Kingdom Sir John Graham Bt GCMG British diplomat 1986
10 United Kingdom Sir John Fretwell GCMG British diplomat 1987
11 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Bridges GCMG British diplomat 1988
12 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Carrington KG GCMG CH MC PC DL Secretary General of NATO 1988
13 United Kingdom Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG KCVO British diplomat 1989
14 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Wright of Richmond GCMG British diplomat 1989
15 Guyana The Hon. Sir Shridath Ramphal GCMG AC ONZ QC Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations 1990
16 Papua New Guinea The Rt Hon. Sir Michael Somare GCMG CH PC Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea 1990
17 New Zealand Dame Catherine Tizard GCMG GCVO DBE QSO ONZ Governor General of New Zealand 1990
18 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn KT GCMG Governor of Hong Kong 1991
19 Papua New Guinea Sir Wiwa Korowi GCMG Governor General of Papua New Guinea 1992
20 Grenada Sir Reginald Palmer GCMG Governor General of Grenada 1992
21 Antigua and Barbuda Sir James Carlisle GCMG Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda 1993
22 United Kingdom Sir Ewen Fergusson GCMG GCVO British diplomat 1993
23 United Kingdom Sir Rodric Braithwaite GCMG British diplomat 1994
24 Papua New Guinea Sir Julius Chan GCL GCMG KBE Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea 1994
25 Belize Sir Colville Young GCMG MBE Governor General of Belize 1994
26 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG CH British diplomat 1995
27 The Bahamas Sir Orville Turnquest GCMG QC Governor General of the Bahamas 1995
28 New Zealand The Rt Hon. Sir Michael Hardie Boys GNZM GCMG QSO Governor General of New Zealand 1996
29 Barbados Sir Clifford Husbands GCMG QC Governor General of Barbados 1996
30 United Kingdom Sir Christopher Mallaby GCMG GCVO British diplomat 1996
31 Tuvalu Sir Tulaga Manuella GCMG Governor General of Tuvalu 1996
32 Saint Kitts and Nevis Sir Cuthbert Sebastian GCMG OBE Governor General of Saint Kitts and Nevis 1996
33 Grenada Sir Daniel Williams GCMG Governor General of Grenada 1996
34 United Kingdom Sir John Coles GCMG British diplomat 1997
35 Papua New Guinea Sir Silas Atopare GCMG Governor General of Papua New Guinea 1998
36 Solomon Islands Sir John Lapli GCMG Governor General of the Solomon Islands 1999
37 Saint Lucia Dame Pearlette Louisy GCMG Governor General of Saint Lucia 1999
38 United Kingdom Sir Andrew Wood GCMG British diplomat 2001
39 Tuvalu Sir Tomu Sione GCMG OBE Governor General of Tuvalu 2001
40 United Kingdom Sir John Goulden GCMG British diplomat 2001
41 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG British diplomat 2001
42 Tuvalu Sir Tomasi Puapua GCMG KBE PC Governor General of Tuvalu 2002
43 United Kingdom Sir David Wright GCMG LVO British diplomat 2002
44 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Sir Frederick Ballantyne GCMG Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2002
45 United Kingdom Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG British diplomat 2003
46 United Kingdom Sir Rob Young GCMG British diplomat 2003
47 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG PC Secretary General of NATO 2004
48 United Kingdom Sir Stephen Wall GCMG LVO British diplomat 2004
49 Papua New Guinea The Rt Hon. Sir Paulias Matane GCL GCMG OBE KStJ Governor General of Papua New Guinea 2005
50 Solomon Islands Sir Nathaniel Waena GCMG KStJ Governor General of Solomon Islands 2005
51 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG CH KBE PC British diplomat 2006
52 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Jay of Ewelme GCMG British diplomat 2006
53 United Kingdom Sir Emyr Parry GCMG British diplomat 2007
54 Jamaica The Most Hon. Sir Kenneth O. Hall GCMG Governor General of Jamaica 2007
55 Antigua and Barbuda Dame Louise Lake-Tack GCMG Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda 2007
56 United Kingdom Sir David Manning GCMG KCVO British diplomat 2008
57 Grenada Sir Carlyle Glean GCMG Governor General of Grenada 2008
58 Jamaica His Excellency The Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen ON GCMG CD Governor General of Jamaica 2009
59 Solomon Islands Sir Frank Kabui GCMG CSI OBE Governor General of Solomon Islands 2009
60 The Bahamas Sir Arthur Foulkes GCMG Governor General of the Bahamas 2010
61 Tuvalu Sir Iakoba Italeli GCMG Governor General of Tuvalu 2010
62 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Lord Ricketts GCMG GCVO British diplomat 2011
63 Papua New Guinea Sir Michael Ogio GCMG CBE Governor General of Papua New Guinea 2011
64 United Kingdom Sir Nigel Sheinwald GCMG British diplomat 2011
65 Barbados Sir Elliott Belgrave GCMG QC Governor General of Barbados 2012
66 Grenada Dame Cécile La Grenade GCMG OBE Governor General of Grenada 2013
67 Saint Kitts and Nevis Sir Edmund Lawrence GCMG OBE Governor General of Saint Kitts and Nevis 2013
68 The Bahamas Dame Marguerite Pindling GCMG Governor General of the Bahamas 2014
69 Antigua and Barbuda Sir Rodney Williams GCMG Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda 2014
70 United Kingdom The Rt Hon. The Baroness Ashton of Upholland GCMG PC British diplomat 2015
71 United Kingdom Sir John Sawers GCMG British diplomat 2015
72 Saint Kitts and Nevis Sir Tapley Seaton GCMG CVO QC JP Governor General of Saint Kitts and Nevis 2015
73 United Kingdom Sir Simon Fraser GCMG British diplomat 2016
74 United Kingdom Sir Peter Westmacott GCMG LVO British diplomat 2016


Honorary Knights/Dame Grand Cross (GCMG)

Star and collar of honorary GCMG worn by Živojin Mišić
Name Post-Nominals Known for Year
Oman Qaboos bin Said al SaidGCB GCMG GCVOSultan of Oman1976
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of BruneiGCB GCMGSultan of Brunei1984
Qatar Abdelaziz bin Khalifa Al ThaniGCMGMember of the royal family of Qatar1985
Nepal Gyanendra of NepalGCMGFormer King of Nepal1986
Philippines Fidel V. RamosGCMGFormer President of the Philippines1995
Portugal Mário SoaresGCMGFormer President of Portugal1996
Poland Aleksander KwaśniewskiGCB GCMGFormer President of Poland1996
Maldives Maumoon Abdul GayoomGCMGFormer President of the Maldives1997 [8]
Pakistan Nawaz SharifGCMGFormer Prime Minister of Pakistan1997
Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al ThaniGCMGFormer Emir of Qatar1997
Argentina Carlos MenemGCMGFormer President of Argentina1998
Mexico Ernesto ZedilloGCMGFormer President of Mexico1998
Peru Alberto FujimoriGCMGFormer President of Peru1998
Singapore Ong Teng CheongGCMGFormer President of Singapore1998 [9]
Hungary János MartonyiGCMGMinister of Foreign Affairs1999 [8]
Jordan Abdullah II of JordanGCB GCMG KCVOKing of Jordan1999
Italy Giuliano AmatoGCMGFormer Prime Minister of Italy2000
Italy Lamberto DiniGCMGFormer Prime Minister of Italy2000
Denmark Henrik, Prince Consort of DenmarkGCB GCMG GCVOPrince Consort of Denmark2000
Romania Emil ConstantinescuGCMGFormer President of Romania2000
South Africa Thabo MbekiGCB GCMGFormer President of South Africa2000
Kazakhstan Nursultan NazarbayevGCMGPresident of Kazakhstan2000
Jordan Ali Abu al-RaghebGCMGFormer Prime Minister of Jordan2001
Portugal Jorge SampaioGCMGFormer President of Portugal2001
Hong Kong Anson Chan GBM GCMG CBE JPFormer Chief Secretary of Hong Kong2002 [10]
Mexico Vicente FoxGCMGFormer President of Mexico2002 [8]
East Timor Xanana GusmãoGCMG GCLFormer Prime Minister of East Timor2003
Afghanistan Hamid KarzaiGCMGFormer President of Afghanistan2003
Albania Alfred MoisiuGCMGFormer President of Albania2003
Poland Włodzimierz CimoszewiczGCMGFormer Prime Minister of Poland2004
Italy Gianfranco FiniGCMGFormer Deputy Prime Minister of Italy2005
Ghana Kofi AnnanGCMGFormer Secretary-General of the United Nations2006 [11][12]
United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Rashid Al MaktoumGCMGPrime Minister of the United Arab Emirates2010 [13]
United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed Al NahyanGCMGCrown Prince of Abu Dhabi2010 [14]
United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al NahyanGCMGPresident of the United Arab Emirates2010
Kuwait Sabah Al Khalid Al SabahGCMGDeputy Prime Minister of Kuwait2012 [15]
France Manuel VallsGCMGPrime Minister of France2014 [16]
Malta Marie Louise Coleiro PrecaGCMGPresident of Malta2015 [17]

Honorary Knights/Dames Commander (KCMG/DCMG)

Name Post-Nominals Known for Year
Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al KhalifaKCMG 1979
United States Richard ArmitageKCMG, CNZM, AC 2005
Royston Hopkin KCMG 2005
Sweden Carl BildtKCMG 2009 [18]
Bangladesh Fazle Hasan AbedKCMG 2010
Netherlands Jaap de Hoop SchefferKCMG 2010 [19]
Belgium Jacques RoggeKCMG 2014
United States Angelina JolieDCMG 2014 [20]
Denmark Anders Fogh RasmussenKCMG 2015 [21]
Mexico José Antonio Meade KuribreñaKCMG 2015 [22]
Malta Joseph MuscatKCMG 2015 [23]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Duckers, Peter (2009) [2004]. British Orders and Decorations. Oxford: Shire Publications. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-0-7478-0580-9. OCLC 55587484.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Royal Household (2009). "Order of St. Michael and St. George". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. London: Crown Copyright. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  3. Townsend, Francis (1828). Calendar of Knights. William Pickering. p. 206.
  4. Knights. at geni.com
  5. Evelyn Bark, article by The Independent
  6. Henry POOLE 1873–1928 (Tate Britain); retrieved 1 October 2009.
  7. Cross, Colin (1968). The Fall of the British Empire. London: Book Club Associates.
  8. 1 2 3
  9. Archived 14 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "H.K.'s ex-No. 2 leader Anson Chan honored by Queen Elizabeth". Findarticles. 11 November 2002. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
  11. "Honorary knighthood for Kofi Annan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney: Fairfax Media. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2015-04-29.
  12. "Honorary knighthood for Kofi Annan". Metro.co.uk. London: Associated Newspapers Limited. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2015-04-29.
  13. Alice Johnson Khalifa, Queen Elizabeth II exchange orders. Gulf News. 26 November 2010 Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  14. List of honorary British knights and dames
  15. "Sabah Dynasty". Royal Ark. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  16. Honorary awards
  17. Honorary awards
  18. Archived 1 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. "Hoge Britse ridderorde voor De Hoop Scheffer" (in Dutch).
  20. "Honorary British Awards to Foreign Nationals - 2014".
  21. "Honorary British Awards to Foreign Nationals - 2015" (PDF).
  22. "Honorary British Awards to Foreign Nationals - 2015" (PDF).
  23. "Honorary British Awards to Foreign Nationals - 2015" (PDF).
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