The Honours System

Honours are given to people from all walks of life and all sections of society who have made a difference to their community. There are several different types of award, each one recognising a different type of contribution.

Honours lists

Honours lists are published twice a year – at New Year and in mid-June on The Queen’s official birthday. Anyone can receive an award if they reach the required standard of merit or service. The list contains a wide variety of people from different backgrounds.

Individuals may be nominated for an honours award by anyone. For example neighbours or work colleagues might put forward those they admire for their achievements. Self-nominations are rare, and will not succeed without independent validation. Applications must be made on the nomination form designed for this purpose

Nominations

There are two routes by which people enter the honours nomination system:

  • nomination by an individual or a public/private sector organisation
  • submission by a government department

Nomination forms sent directly to the Honours Secretariat are sifted and checked. Cases are referred to the relevant government department for them to consider. Comments and feedback are sought from Lord Lieutenants.

The Northern Ireland cases are assessed by an internal committee and then submitted to Cabinet Office. Once the case reaches the honours team it is prepared for consideration by specialist sub-committee. Similar candidates are submitted together so that each committee may compare like with like.

Their assessments are sent to the main selection committee. The main committee considers the balance of the proposals and forwards its recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary who, in turn submits the list to the Prime Minister for Submission to The Queen.

Once The Queen has given her informal approval, letters are then sent to each nominee asking them whether they would be willing to accept the proposed award. Once they have replied a final list is submitted to The Queen for formal approval.

The list is published in The London Gazette and the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood at St James’s Palace arrange investitures for the successful candidates.

The London Gazette website

Peerages

Peerages are not honours. Since May 2000 Peers nominated by political parties have been vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. The House of Lords Appointments Commission also recommends people for non-party peerages.

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