|Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George|
|Type||Order of chivalry|
|Established||28 April 1818|
|Motto||Auspicium Melioris Ævi|
Token of a Better Age
|Eligibility||Typically British or Commonwealth realm citizens|
|Awarded for||At the monarch's pleasure, though typically awarded for extraordinary non-military service in a foreign country and for services to foreign and commonwealth affairs.|
|Founder||Prince George, Prince Regent|
|Sovereign||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Grand Master||Prince Edward, Duke of Kent|
|Next (higher)||Order of the Star of India|
|Next (lower)||Order of the Indian Empire|
Ribbon bar of the Order of St Michael and St George
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is a British order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later King George IV, while he was acting as regent for his father, King George III.
The Order of St Michael and St George was originally awarded to those holding commands or high position in the Mediterranean territories acquired in the Napoleonic Wars, and was subsequently extended to holders of similar office or position in other territories of the British Empire. It is at present awarded to men and women who hold high office or who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country, and can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs.
The Order includes three classes, in descending order of seniority and rank:
It is used to honour individuals who have rendered important services in relation to Commonwealth or foreign nations. People are appointed to the Order rather than awarded it. British Ambassadors to foreign nations are regularly appointed as KCMGs or CMGs. For example, the former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir David Manning, was appointed a CMG when he worked for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and then after his appointment as British Ambassador to the US, he was promoted to a Knight Commander (KCMG). It is the traditional award for members of the FCO.
The Order's motto is Auspicium melioris ævi (Latin for "Token of a better age"). Its patron saints, as the name suggests, are St. Michael the Archangel, and St. George, patron saint of England. One of its primary symbols is that of St Michael trampling over and subduing Satan in battle.
The Order is the sixth-most senior in the British honours system, after The Most Noble Order of the Garter, The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, and The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India. The third of the aforementioned Orders--which relates to Ireland, no longer fully a part of the United Kingdom--still exists but is in disuse; no appointments have been made to it since 1936. The last of the Orders on the list, related to India, has also been in disuse since that country's independence in 1947.
The Prince Regent founded the Order to commemorate the British amical protectorate over the Ionian Islands, which had come under British control in 1814 and had been granted their own constitution as the United States of the Ionian Islands in 1817. It was intended to reward "natives of the Ionian Islands and of the island of Malta and its dependencies, and for such other subjects of His Majesty as may hold high and confidential situations in the Mediterranean".
In 1864, however, the protectorate ended and the Ionian Islands became part of Greece. A revision of the basis of the Order in 1868, saw membership granted to those who "hold high and confidential offices within Her Majesty's colonial possessions, and in reward for services rendered to the Crown in relation to the foreign affairs of the Empire". Accordingly, numerous Governors-General and Governors feature as recipients of awards in the order.
The British Sovereign is the Sovereign of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order (by convention, on the advice of the Government). The next-most senior member is the Grand Master. The office was formerly filled by the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands; now, however, Grand Masters are chosen by the Sovereign. Grand Masters include:
The Order originally included 15 Knights Grand Cross, 20 Knights Commanders, and 25 Companions but has since been expanded and the current limits on membership are 125, 375, and 1,750 respectively. Members of the Royal Family who are appointed to the Order do not count towards the limit, nor do foreign members appointed as "honorary members".
The Order has six officers. The Order's King of Arms is not a member of the College of Arms, like many other heraldic officers. The Usher of the Order is known as the Gentleman or Lady Usher of the Blue Rod. Blue Rod does not, unlike the usher of the Order of the Garter, perform any duties related to the House of Lords.
Members of the Order wear elaborate regalia on important occasions (such as coronations), which vary by rank:
At less important occasions, simpler insignia are used:
On certain "collar days" designated by the Sovereign, members attending formal events may wear the Order's collar over their military uniform or morning wear. When collars are worn (either on collar days or on formal occasions such as coronations), the badge is suspended from the collar. All collars which have been awarded since 1948 must be returned to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. The other insignia may be retained.
The original home of the Order was the Palace of St. Michael and St. George in Corfu, the residence of the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and the seat of the Ionian Senate. Since 1906, the Order's chapel has been in St Paul's Cathedral in London. (The cathedral also serves as home to the chapels of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor.) Religious services for the whole Order are held quadrennially; new Knights and Dames Grand Cross are installed at these services.
The Sovereign and the Knights and Dames Grand Cross are allotted stalls in the choir of the chapel, above which their heraldic devices are displayed. Perched on the pinnacle of a knight's stall is his helm, decorated with a mantling and topped by his crest. Under English heraldic law, women other than monarchs do not bear helms or crests; instead, the coronet appropriate to the dame's rank, if there is one, is used. Above the crest or coronet, the stall's occupant's heraldic banner is hung, emblazoned with his or her coat of arms. At a considerably smaller scale, to the back of the stall is affixed a piece of brass (a "stall plate") displaying its occupant's name, arms and date of admission into the Order. Upon the death of a Knight, the banner, helm, mantling and crest are taken down. The stall plates, however, are not removed; rather, they remain permanently affixed somewhere about the stall, so that the stalls of the chapel are festooned with a colourful record of the Order's Knights and Dames Grand Cross since 1906.
Members of the Order of St Michael are assigned positions in the order of precedence in England and Wales. Wives of male members also feature on the order of precedence, as do sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders; relatives of female members, however, are not assigned any special precedence. (As a general rule, individuals can derive precedence from their fathers or husbands, but not from their mothers or wives.)
Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders prefix "Sir", and Dames Grand Cross and Dames Commanders prefix "Dame", to their forenames. Wives of Knights may prefix "Lady" to their surnames, but no equivalent privilege exists for husbands of Dames. Such forms are not used by peers and princes, except when the names of the former are written out in their fullest forms. Furthermore, honorary (foreign) members and clergymen do not receive the accolade and thus are not entitled to use the prefix "Sir" or "Dame". Knights and Dames Grand Cross use the post-nominal "GCMG"; Knights Commanders and Dames Commanders use "KCMG" and "DCMG" respectively; Companions use "CMG".
Knights and Dames Grand Cross are also entitled to receive heraldic supporters. They may, furthermore, encircle their arms with a depiction of the circlet (a circle bearing the motto) and the collar; the former is shown either outside or on top of the latter. Knights and Dames Commanders and Companions may display the circlet, but not the collar, surrounding their arms. The badge is depicted suspended from the collar or circlet.
In the satirical British television programme Yes Minister, Jim Hacker MP is told an old joke by his Private Secretary Bernard Woolley about what the various post-nominals stand for. From Season 2, Episode 2 "Doing the Honours":
Woolley: In the [civil] service, CMG stands for "Call Me God". And KCMG for "Kindly Call Me God".
Hacker: What does GCMG stand for?
Woolley (deadpan): "God Calls Me God".
Both sexes use the same post-nominal initials, except that there is a distinctly female form of Knight Commander of St Michael and St George. This is Dame Commander of St. Michael and St George (DCMG).
Ian Fleming's spy, James Bond, a commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) was fictionally decorated with the CMG in 1953. (This is mentioned in the novels From Russia, with Love and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and on-screen in his obituary in Skyfall.) He was offered the KCMG (which would have elevated him from Companion to Knight Commander in the Order) in The Man with the Golden Gun, but he rejected the offer as he did not wish to become a public figure. Dame Judi Dench's character "M" is "offered" early retirement and a GCMG in Skyfall after a series of events resulting in the loss of a list that named every NATO espionage operative.
(NOTE: For clarity, the table denotes holders of the GCMG only; all other posts-nominal shown, for respective members, are for the sake of completeness alone.)
|1||Sayyid Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah of Zanzibar||Sultan of Zanzibar||1963|
|2||The Duke of Kent||Royal family||1967|
|3||Sir Antony Acland||British diplomat||1986|
|4||Sir Crispin Tickell||British diplomat||1989|
|5||Sir Shridath Ramphal||OE OM OCC||Commonwealth Secretary-General||1990|
|6||Dame Catherine Tizard||Governor-General of New Zealand||1990|
|7||The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn||Governor of Hong Kong||1991|
|8||Sir Wiwa Korowi||Governor-General of Papua New Guinea||1992|
|9||Sir James Carlisle||Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda||1993|
|10||Sir Rodric Braithwaite||British diplomat||1994|
|11||Sir Julius Chan||Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea||1994|
|12||Sir Colville Young||Governor-General of Belize||1994|
|13||The Lord Hannay of Chiswick||British diplomat||1995|
|14||Sir Orville Turnquest||Governor-General of the Bahamas||1995|
|15||Sir Michael Hardie Boys||Governor-General of New Zealand||1996|
|16||Sir Christopher Mallaby||British diplomat||1996|
|17||Sir Tulaga Manuella||Governor-General of Tuvalu||1996|
|18||Sir Daniel Williams||Governor-General of Grenada||1996|
|19||Sir John Coles||British diplomat||1997|
|20||Sir Silas Atopare||Governor-General of Papua New Guinea||1998|
|21||Sir John Lapli||Governor-General of the Solomon Islands||1999|
|22||Dame Pearlette Louisy||Governor-General of Saint Lucia||1999|
|23||Sir Andrew Wood||British diplomat||2001|
|24||Sir John Goulden||British diplomat||2001|
|25||The Lord Kerr of Kinlochard||British diplomat||2001|
|26||Sir Tomasi Puapua||Governor-General of Tuvalu||2002|
|27||Sir David Wright||British diplomat||2002|
|28||Sir Jeremy Greenstock||British diplomat||2003|
|29||Sir Rob Young||British diplomat||2003|
|30||The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen||Secretary General of NATO||2004|
|31||Sir Stephen Wall||British diplomat||2004|
|32||Sir Paulias Matane||Governor-General of Papua New Guinea||2005|
|33||Sir Nathaniel Waena||CSI||Governor-General of Solomon Islands||2005|
|34||The Lord Jay of Ewelme||British diplomat||2006|
|35||Sir Emyr Jones Parry||British diplomat||2007|
|36||Sir Kenneth O. Hall||OJ||Governor-General of Jamaica||2007|
|37||Dame Louise Lake-Tack||Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda||2007|
|38||Sir David Manning||British diplomat||2008|
|39||Sir Carlyle Glean||Governor-General of Grenada||2008|
|40||Sir Patrick Allen||ON||Governor-General of Jamaica||2009|
|41||Sir Frank Kabui||CSI||Governor-General of Solomon Islands||2009|
|42||Sir Arthur Foulkes||Governor-General of the Bahamas||2010|
|43||Sir Iakoba Italeli||Governor-General of Tuvalu||2010|
|44||The Lord Ricketts||British diplomat||2011|
|45||Sir Nigel Sheinwald||British diplomat||2011|
|46||Sir Elliott Belgrave||Governor-General of Barbados||2012|
|47||Dame Cécile La Grenade||Governor-General of Grenada||2013|
|48||Sir Edmund Lawrence||Governor-General of Saint Kitts and Nevis||2013|
|49||Dame Marguerite Pindling||Governor-General of the Bahamas||2014|
|50||Sir Rodney Williams||Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda||2014|
|51||The Baroness Ashton of Upholland||British diplomat||2015|
|52||Sir John Sawers||British diplomat||2015|
|53||Sir Tapley Seaton||Governor-General of Saint Kitts and Nevis||2015|
|54||Sir Simon Fraser||British diplomat||2016|
|55||Sir Peter Westmacott||British diplomat||2016|
|56||Sir Robert Dadae||Governor-General of Papua New Guinea||2017|
|57||Dame Sandra Mason||DA QC||Governor-General of Barbados||2017|
|58||Sir Mark Lyall Grant||British diplomat & National Security Adviser||2018|
|59||Sir Neville Cenac||Governor-General of Saint Lucia||2018|
|60||Sir Cornelius A. Smith||Governor-General of the Bahamas||2019|
|61||Sir David Vunagi||Governor-General of Solomon Islands||2019|
|62||Dame Susan Dougan||Governor-General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||2020|
|63||Sir David Attenborough||Television broadcaster and conservationist||2020|
|64||Sir Tim Barrow||British diplomat||2020|
|65||Sir Julian King||British diplomat||2020|
|66||The Lord McDonald of Salford||British diplomat||2021|
Riband, badge and star of a GCMG worn by Lord Tweedsmuir.
Riband (worn incorrectly), star and collar of GCMG worn by Lord Grenfell