Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II

When the Queen passed away last month, it brought to an end what was probably the most exclusive Honour of the United Kingdom, a piece of splendid insignia given to select female members of the Royal Family at the sole discretion of the Queen. With discussion about the Royal Family Order for King Charles III, it is a great opportunity to feature the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II!

The British Royal Tiaras | British Royal Orders | British Royal Jewels 

Awarded by the Sovereign to female members of the Royal Family, Royal Family Orders have been awarded since 1820, and they have usually been the first Honours awarded to Royal Ladies, with the most notable being the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert. The colour of the ribbon of the Order has changed with each reign. The late Queen was the last surviving holder of the Royal Family Order of King George V, while her cousin, Princess Alexandra, is the last surviving holder of the Royal Family Order of King George VI. 

The Orders feature a portrait of the young Queen Elizabeth II painted on ivory (and more recently glass), the picture was taken by society photographer Dorothy Wilding a few months after the Queen’s Accession in 1952, depicting her wearing a Norman Hartnell Gown with the George IV State Diadem with the Nizam of Hyderabad NecklaceBahrain Pearl Earrings, and Wedding Gift Bracelet as well as the Order of the Garter.

The portrait is bordered by diamonds and surmounted by a Tudor Crown in diamonds and red enamel. The reverse, in silver-gilt, is patterned with rays and depicts the royal cypher and St Edward’s Crown in gold and enamel. The frame is suspended from a chartreuse yellow bow, which is pinned on the left shoulder. Those who have the Royal Family Orders from previous Reigns wore them all layered on their left shoulder, as we will see this Order worn with new Royal Family Orders into the next Reigns. 

While in the early years of her reign, the Order was given to all the female members of the Royal Family, and then given on marriage into the Royal Family or reaching the age of majority, though in recent years, the Order was only given after years of dedicated service, at the discretion of the Queen. Here is the list of recipients:  

The Queen Mother

Given: 1952

Other Honours:  Order of the British Empire (1927), Order of the Garter (1937), Order of the Thistle (1937), Royal Victorian Order (1937)

Princess Margaret

Given: 1952

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (1953) Royal Victorian Chain (1990)

Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood

Given: 1952

Other Honours: Order of the British Empire (1927), Royal Victorian Order (1937)

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester

Given: 1952

Other Honours: Order of the British Empire (1937), Royal Victorian Order (1948), Order of the Bath (1975)

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

Given: 1952

Other Honours: Order of the British Empire (1937), Royal Victorian Order (1948)

Princess Alexandra of Kent

Given: 1952

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (1960), Order of the Garter (2003)

Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone

Given: 1952

Other Honours: Royal Order of Victoria and Albert, Order of the British Empire (1937), Royal Victorian Order (1948)

Duchess of Kent

Given: 1961

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (1977)

Princess Royal

Given: 1969

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (1974), Order of the Garter (1994), Order of the Thistle (2002)

Duchess of Gloucester

Given: 1973

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (1989)

Diana, Princess of Wales

Given: 1981

Countess of Wessex

Given: 2004

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (2010)

Queen Camilla

Given: 2007

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (2012), Order of the Garter (2022)

Princess of Wales

Given: 2017

Other Honours: Royal Victorian Order (2019)

The British Royal Tiaras | British Royal Orders | British Royal Jewels

3 thoughts on “Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II

  1. So… Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone… being a granddaughter of Queen Victoria who attended QE2’s coronation… had the Family Orders of Victoria; Edward VII; George V; George VI AND QE@? Was a Family Order issued for Edward VIII?

  2. It looks as if Diana was the turning point. After granting he’s so quickly, the Queen made other brides prove themselves. Catherine had the longest wait.

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