The dignity of knighthood carries the prefix of 'Sir', but unlike a baronetcy it is only held for life.

The recipient is allowed to use his title and to attach the appropriate letters for Knights of Orders of Chivalry after his name from the date of the announcement in the London Gazette. He does not have to wait for the accolade to be officially conferred upon him.

There are two kinds of knighthood conferred by the Sovereign:

(1) Knights of the various orders of chivalry, identified by the appropriate letters after the name.

(2) Knights bachelor, who, in ordinary correspondence, carry no letters after the name.

Armed forces and ambassadorial ranks should precede 'Sir' . For example:

His Excellency Sir John Waverton, KCMG, 
Major Sir John Waverton

A clergyman of the Church of England does not use the prefix 'Sir' before his name, but he places the appropriate letters of the order of chivalry concerned after his name, eg:

'The Rt. Rev. The Lord Bishop of Sevenoaks, KCVO.

Clergy of other Churches may receive the accolade and thus use Sir. See Knight and Clergy.

A knight who is also a privy counsellor is styled 'The Rt Hon Sir John Waverton' - the letters PC are unnecessary since the Rt Hon is sufficient indication.

A peer who receives a knighthood of an order of chivalry adds the appropriate letters of order after his name, for example: the Viscount Angmering, KCVO.

When a foreign national receives an honorary knighthood of an order of chivalry he is not entitled to use the prefix Sir (See Honorary Knighthood).

In social usage it is not uncommon to find titles conferred by the Sovereign combined with styles emanating from other sources (eg Alderman Sir William Green, and Professor Sir Edward Hailstone), though this is deprecated by purists.

How to address a Knight or Knight Bachelor

The recommended (social) style of address for both Knights and Knights Bachelor is as follows:

Beginning of letter

Dear Sir John

End of letter

Yours sincerely


Sir John Brook (with the appropriate post-nominal letters)

Verbal communication

Sir John

Invitation/Joint invitation*

Sir John Brook/Sir John and Lady Brook

Description in conversation

Sir John (Sir John Brook if distinction is necessary, or on introduction

List of Directors or Patrons

Sir John Brook

Place card

Sir John Brook (without post-nominal letters, except RN, QC and MP)

Legal document

Knights Bachelor are accorded 'Knight Bachelor' or 'Knight' after the name.

The Orders of Chivalry are either spelt in full (with or without the honorific prefix of the Order, eg Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), or by the recognised abbreviations, eg KBE. Thus Sir John Brook Knight Bachelor, KBE.

*Note that, traditionally, invitations to a married couple, when sent to their home address, are addressed to the wife alone, with both names being inscribed on the invitation card. It has become increasingly acceptable, however, to address the envelope with both names.

Children of knights do not derive any style or title from their parent.

How to Address...

Knights of the Orders of Chivalry

Ladies of the Garter

Knight Bachelor

Honorary Knight

Wife of a Knight

Knight and Clergy


See Essential Guide to the Peerage: Knightage

See Guide to Honours: Orders of Chivalry

See Hierarchies: Postnominal Letters



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