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  • Lady Alexandra Naldera Metcalfe (1904 - 1995)
    Lady Alexandra Naldera Curzon was born on 20 March 1904. She was the daughter of George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st and last Marquess Curzon of Kedleston and Mary Victoria Leiter. She married Major Edwar...
  • Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947)
    Alfred North Whitehead OM FRS FBA (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English mathematician and philosopher. He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as proces...
  • Adm. Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Hobart Seymour (1840 - 1929)
    Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Hobart Seymour, GCB, OM, GCVO (30 April 1840 – 2 March 1929), was a Royal Navy officer who became Commander-in-Chief, China Station. Early life Born the grands...
  • George Frederic Watts (1817 - 1904)
    George Frederic Watts, OM, RA (23 February 1817 – 1 July 1904) George Frederic Watts was a popular English Victorian painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement. Watts became famous...
  • Field Marshal Sir George Stuart White, VC, GCMG, GCVO (1835 - 1912)
    ) Field Marshal Sir George Stuart White VC, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GCVO, (6 July 1835[1] – 24 June 1912) was an officer of the British Army and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and mo...

The Order of Merit

The Order of Merit is a special honour awarded to individuals of great achievement in the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science.

The Order was founded by King Edward VII at the time of his coronation in 1902, to be ‘given to such persons, subjects of Our Crown, as may have rendered exceptionally meritorious services in Our Crown Services or towards the advancement of the Arts, Learning, Literature, and Science or such other exceptional service as We are fit to recognise’.

The Order of Merit is in the sole gift of the Sovereign and is restricted to 24 members as well as additional foreign recipients.

Past British holders of the Order have included:

There are very few foreign recipients, although those given the Order have included:

  • Dr Albert Schweitzer
  • General Eisenhower
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta
  • Nelson Mandela

There is also a military division included in the 24. Although the last member of this was Lord Mountbatten, the military division has never been abolished.

The badge is an eight-pointed cross of red and blue enamel surmounted by the imperial crown; in the centre, upon blue enamel and surrounded by a laurel wreath, are the words in gold lettering 'For Merit'.

Download an image of the badge: © Buckingham Palace.

The insignia for the military division (when used) is differentiated by crossed swords in the centre of the badge.

Between 1907 and 1913 portraits of 24 of the early members of the Order were commissioned, of which 14 were by William Strang. With the outbreak of the First World War this practice fell into abeyance. In 1987 The Queen revived the tradition with the intention that each member should be drawn by a different artist. Since 1987 nearly 60 further portraits of members of the Order of Merit have been added to the Royal Collection. (The only current member of the order not so far to have been drawn for the series is Neil MacGregor, appointed in November 2010.)

View a gallery of images of the latest eight portraits commissioned by Her Majesty

Motto: For merit

Chapel: Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace

Ranks: Member

Post-nominals: OM

Founded: 1902

A list of current members

  • Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II
  • Secretary and Registrar: The Lord Fellowes GCB GCVO QSO PC

Substantive Members

  1. (122) His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., O.M., G.B.E., A.C., Q.S.O., F.R.S. 10th June, 1968
  2. (162) Sir Michael Francis Atiyah, O.M., F.R.S. 17th November, 1992
  3. (166) Sir Aaron Klug, O.M., F.R.S. 23rd October, 1995
  4. (169) Norman Robert, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, O.M., R.A. 25th November, 1997
  5. (175) Professor Sir Roger Penrose, O.M., F.R.S. 9th May, 2000
  6. (176) Sir Thomas Stoppard, O.M., C.B.E. 9th May, 2000
  7. (177) His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, K.G., K.T., G.C.B., O.M., A.K., Q.S.O., A.D.C. 27th June, 2002
  8. (178) Robert McCredie, Lord May of Oxford, O.M., A.C., F.R.S. 28th October, 2002
  9. (179) Nathaniel Charles Jacob, Lord Rothschild, O.M., G.B.E. 28th October, 2002
  10. (180) Sir David Frederick Attenborough, O.M., C.H., C.V.O., C.B.E., F.R.S. 28th April, 2005
  11. (181) The Right Honourable Betty, Baroness Boothroyd, O.M. 28th April, 2005
  12. (182) Professor Sir Michael Eliot Howard, O.M., C.H., C.B.E., M.C. 28th April, 2005
  13. (183) The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Robert Henry Alexander, Lord Eames, O.M. 13th June, 2007
  14. (184) Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, O.M., K.B.E. 13th June, 2007
  15. (185) The Right Honourable Martin John, Lord Rees of Ludlow, O.M., P.R.S. 13th June, 2007
  16. (186) The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien O.M., P.C.,C.C., Q.C. 13th July, 2009
  17. (187) Neil MacGregor, O.M. 4th November, 2010
  18. (188) David Hockney O.M., C.H., R.A. 1st January, 2012
  19. (189) The Honourable John Howard O.M., A.C., S.S.I. 1st January, 2012
  20. (190) Sir Simon Rattle OM CBE 1st January 2014
  21. (192) Sir Magdi Yacoub OM FRS 1st January 2014
  22. (193) The Lord Darzi of Denham OM KBE PC FRS 31st December 2015
  23. (194) Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FRS FREng 31st December 2015
  24. (195) Sir James Dyson OM CBE FRS FREng 31st December 2015