A Dame is the female equivalent of a knight of an order of chivalry. Similarly, the title is always used in conjunction with the forename.

The recipient is allowed to use the prefix and appropriate letters from the date of the announcement in the London Gazette, e.g. Dame Irene Wood, DBE

Dames are appointed to the following orders of chivalry, which are divided into two classes:


Dame Grand Cross

Dame Commander

Order of the Bath



Order of St Michael & St George



Royal Victorian Order



Order of the British Empire



The rules for promotion in the same order of chivalry, and the precedence of orders, follow the same system as apply for a knight (see Knights of Orders of Chivalry).

A peeress (including female peers in their own right, and the wives of holders of peerage titles by courtesy) who is appointed a dame adds the appropriate letters after her name, e.g. ‘The Baroness Beever, LG, DCB’.

The daughter of a duke, marquess or earl who is appointed a dame adds the appropriate letters after her name, e.g. Lady Mary Waverton, DBE.

If a wife or widow of a baronet or knight is appointed a dame she is usually known as Dame Irene Wood, DBE, but some ladies prefer to continue their former style of Lady Wood, DBE.

A lady who is styled 'The Hon', who is appointed a dame, is addressed 'The Hon Dame Mary Avers, DBE'.

When a dame of an Order of Chivalry is gazetted by her professional, rather than her legal, name she usually prefers to be so addressed, e.g. Dame Judi Dench, CH, DBE.

A husband does not derive any style or title from his wife, nor do the children of knights and dames derive any style or title from their parents.

How to address a Dame

The recommended social style of address is as follows:

Beginning of letter

Dear Dame Helen

End of letter

Yours sincerely


Dame Helen Wood, GCB (letters according to order of chivalry)

Verbal communication

Dame Helen


Dame Helen Wood

Joint invitation & joint form of address

Mr John and Dame Helen White

Description in conversation

Dame Helen Wood

List of Directors or Patrons

Dame Irene Wood

Place card

Dame Irene Wood

Legal document

Dame Irene Wood

See Guide to Honours: Orders of Chivalry

See Hierarchies: Crown Honours

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