Knights of the Orders of Chivalry

The two senior orders of chivalry are very exclusive.  Unlike the other orders they consist of one class only.  They carry the following letters after the name:

Knight of the Garter - KG

Knight of the Thistle - KT

The Order of the Garter, apart from the 25 Knights Companions, also includes Royal Knights Companions (all members of our royal family, male and female), and Extra Knights Companions (all foreign royals, male and female) (also known as Stranger Knights).

Although HRH The Princess Royal and HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon Lady Ogilvy, are both female they are actually included with the Royal Knights Companions and they bear the post-nominal letters KG (not LG).

The remaining orders of chivalry consist of several classes of which the first two carry knighthoods:

(a)    Class 1 - Knight Grand Cross or Knight Grand Commander

(b)    Class 2 - Knight Commander

Each of these classes are ranked according to the orders of chivalry.

The appropriate letters for the various orders of chivalry are as follows in order of precedence:


Knight Grand Cross or Knight Grand Commander

Knight Commander

Order of the Bath



Order of the Star of India*



Order of St Michael & St George



Order of the Indian Empire*



Royal Victorian Order



Order of the British Empire



*No appointments have been made since 1947

Should a knight be promoted within the same order, he ceases to use the letters denoting his lower rank and uses instead the letters appropriate to his senior rank, eg if General Sir John Waverton, KCB, is promoted to a GCB he becomes General Sir John Waverton, GCB.

The same applies to a knight of an order of chivalry who previously held the same order, but of a class which did not carry a knighthood.  Thus Colonel ohn Waverton, CB on promotion to KCB becomes Colonel Sir John Waverton, KCB (and drops the CB).

When a knight receives more than one order of the same class, the letters appear in order of precedence of the orders concerned, eg a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, the Royal Victorian Order and the British Empire, is addressed as follows:

Field Marshal Sir John Waverton, GBE, KCMG, CB, CVO.

Where a knight has received has received several orders of chivalry, all the appropriate letters must be included after his name in all formal correspondence. It is however permissible in social correspondence with a KG or KT to omit other letters after the name.

See Ladies of the Garter and the Thistle

See Guide to Honours: Orders of Chivalry

See Hierarchies: Crown Honours



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