Royal Victorian Order
GCVO (Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order)
KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order)
DCVO (Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order)
CVO (Commander of the Royal Victorian Order)
LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order)
MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order)
The Royal Victorian Order was instituted by Queen Victoria on 21 April 1896 as a reward for personal service to the Sovereign.
This honour is frequently given to members of the Royal Household. The Duchess of Grafton, who was a Lady of the Bedchamber to The Queen 1953-66, has ascended through the ranks of the Order. She was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1965. The Duchess went on to become Mistress of the Robes to The Queen in 1967, and was promoted to DCVO (Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1970, and finally further promoted to GCVO (Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1980.
The Order is often awarded by The Queen during official tours overseas, or to honour a foreign dignitary or head of state on a state visit to Great Britain. There is no limit to the number of members, but the Order is prized as a mark of high esteem and favour, bestowed directly by the Sovereign without the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
The mantle of a Knight or Dame Grand Cross is of dark blue satin, edged with red satin, the edging of the collar being of white silk, and the mantle is fastened by a cordon of dark blue silk and gold.
The collar is of gold and consists of octagonal pieces each adorned with a gold rose on a blue enamelled ground, alternating with oblong frames each enclosing in white enamelled letters an element of the legend 'Victoria, Britt. Reg' (Queen of the Britains): 'Def. Fid.' (Defender of the Faith): 'Ind. Imp.' (Empress of India). There is an additional piece, including a medallion with Queen Victoria's effigy from which the badge is suspended.
The collar is worn by Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on 'Collar Days', 34 designated days throughout the year on which the collar may be worn. Most of these are Feasts of the Church, from New Year's Day to Innocents' Day on 28th December. The remainder are royal anniversaries: The Queen's accession (6th February), The Queen's birthday (21st April), the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 (29th May), The Queen's Coronation (2nd June), and the Duke of Edinburgh's birthday (10th June).
Although King George VI ordained that the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy should become the Chapel of the Order, the number of members has grown to such an extent in recent years that services of praise, dedication and remembrance are held, in the presence of The Queen and the Grand Master (The Princess Royal), in St George's Chapel, Windsor.
The motto is, quite simply, 'Victoria'.