National Honours

Recommending RPS members

To make a recommendation to nominate an RPS member for a national honour please complete the RPS National Honours Form.

1. Background

Honours lists are published twice a year at New Year and in mid-June on the date of the Queen's official birthday. Anyone can receive an award if they reach the required standard of merit or service, and honours lists contain a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. Anyone can nominate someone for an award.

The Honours and Appointments Secretariat

The UK Honours System is managed by the Cabinet Office Honours and Appointments Secretariat.

The Secretariat is responsible for:

  • Preparation of the Prime Minister's half-yearly Honours Lists
  • The provision of advice on all honours matters to the Head of the Home Civil Service
  • Co-ordinating policy on the award of decorations and medals in the UK: providing advice as necessary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence
  • The receipt, acknowledgement and processing of honours nominations made by members of the public
  • Policy on, and assessment of, individual cases leading to civilian gallantry awards
  • the assessment and processing of recommendations for the Imperial Service Medal

Most awards are made in the Order of the British Empire, which has a number of levels ranging from Knight or Dame Grand Cross to the British Empire Medal, which was reintroduced for use in honour of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Birthday Honours in 2012.

Orders and Levels

At all levels, awards illuminate areas of dedicated service which merit public recognition.

In terms of service the difference is determined by the extent of the person's influence. In terms of achievement, the difference is determined by the significance of the person's impact in their chosen profession.

The committee considers the appropriate order and level. There is no need to specify this in any nomination.

Orders include:

  • Senior civil servants and military officers may be considered for the Order of the Bath
  • Diplomats and others serving the UK abroad may be considered for the Order of St Michael and St George
  • Anyone may be considered for awards in the Order of the British Empire, including for the British Empire Medal
  • Anyone may be considered for the award of Companion of Honour

Levels include:

  • Companion of Honour
  • Knight/Dame
  • CBE
  • OBE
  • MBE
  • BEM

A preeminent and sustained contribution in the arts, science, medicine or government.

A preeminent contribution in any field of activity (usually, but not exclusively, at national level), or in a capacity which will be recognised by peer groups as inspirational and significant nationally and demonstrates sustained commitment.

A prominent national role of a lesser degree, a conspicuous leading role in regional affairs through achievement or service to the community, or a highly distinguished, innovative contribution in his or her area of activity.

Distinguished regional or county-wide role in any field, through achievement or service to the community including notable practitioners known nationally.

Achievement or service in and to the community which is outstanding in its field and has delivered sustained and real impact which stands out as an example to others.

Achievement or contribution of a very 'hands-on' service to the community in a local geographical area. This might take the form of sustained commitment in support of very local charitable and/or voluntary activity; or innovative work that has delivered real impact but that is relatively short (three to four years) in duration. 

2. The nomination process

There are two routes by which people enter the system:

  • Submission by a government department that has identified a candidate doing good work within its sphere of interest. (Candidates may be identified as a result of nominations sent to that department from public or private sources.)
  • Nomination by an individual or a public/private sector organisation familiar with the work of the candidate.

RPS can submit nominations where we agree that an RPS member stands out as having made such a difference in their field of work that they are worthy of a civil honour. 

Nominations received by the RPS will be reviewed before a decision is made on whether to submit the nomination. Approved nominations, and supporting information, will then be submitted to the Honours and Appointments Secretariat. 

Once a nomination is made to the Secretariat comments and feedback are sought by that department from Lord Lieutenants, outside bodies and departments which may have an interest in an aspect of the candidate's work. 

Once the case is ready it is sent to the Honours Committee.

To make a recommendation for a nomination please complete the RPS National Honours Form and send it to [email protected].

It is important that you provide as much information as possible about your proposed nominee, and try to explain what their actual contribution in an area has been, as opposed to just listing jobs or posts held. 

Read the section ‘Who to recommend for a nomination’ below before making your recommendation to RPS.

3. Who to recommend for a nomination

Anyone can be nominated, but only exceptional people are honoured. Achievement comes in many forms but honours committees are looking for someone who has made a difference in their field of work or community.

Honours can be awarded for all sorts of work - paid or unpaid - but the nominee must still be involved in the activity for which they are nominated. Recommendations made to the RPS for a nomination must be accompanied by supporting information.

Before recommending a nominee, the following questions should be considered. Has the proposed nominee:

  • Made a difference to their community or field of work?
  • Brought distinction to British life and enhanced its reputation?
  • Exemplified the best sustained and selfless voluntary service?
  • Demonstrated innovation and entrepreneurship?
  • Carried the respect of their peers?
  • Changed things, with an emphasis on achievement?
  • Improved the lot of those less able to help themselves?
  • Displayed moral courage and vision in making and delivering tough choices?

People who are not UK citizens or citizens of Commonwealth countries of which The Queen is Head of State are eligible to be considered for awards but the award may be an honorary one.

Honours are given to people from all walks of life and all sections of society who have made a difference to their community. The number of honours available is strictly limited and therefore, however valuable their service, unfortunately not everyone can receive recognition in this way.

4. Making a nomination

If a proposed nomination is approved by the RPS an official nomination form will need to be completed. You should read the nomination form before making a recommendation to the RPS as this will help you to provide the required information.

The nomination form asks a series of questions to help with compiling the submission and supporting information in a meaningful way. The questions also confirm the type of information the Honours & Appointments Secretariat are looking for, this includes:

At least two letters of support are required to support a nomination. Letters of support should be from others who have firsthand knowledge of and can endorse the nominee’s contribution. Guidance on writing letters of support is available from the Cabinet Office.

5. Timescales

Verification of the large number of nominations received by the Honours & Appointments Secretariat takes time and the nominee should not expect to hear anything for at least 12-18 months. Nominators can contact the Honours and Appointments Secretariat if they would like to check on progress.

6. The decision

If selected, candidates are sent a letter asking them whether they would be willing to accept an Honour. Almost everyone does and their names will appear in The London Gazette at the New Year or on The Queen's official birthday in June. 

7. Further information

Further information and tips on nominating someone for a national honour can be found in the following document RPS National Honours nomination form.