Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.
view all


  • William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (1824 - 1907)
    William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, OM, GCVO, PC, FRS, FRSE (26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907), or (late in his life) Lord Kelvin, was a British mathematician, mathematical physicist and engineer born ...
  • Robert May, Baron May of Oxford (1936 - 2020)
    Robert McCredie May, Baron May of Oxford, OM, AC, FRS, FAA, FTSE, FRSN, HonFAIB (8 January 1936 – 28 April 2020) was an Australian scientist who was Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, Pre...
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (1890 - 1969)
    Dwight David Eisenhower, Was A Career Soldier, And Was Elected To The Presidency Of The United States In The 1952 Election, He Took Office In January Of 1953. He Served 2 Terms, And Was Succeeded By Jo...
  • William Huggins (1824 - 1910)
    William Huggins OM KCB PRS (7 February 1824 – 12 May 1910) was an English astronomer best known for his pioneering work in astronomical spectroscopy together with his wife Margaret Lindsay Huggins.
  • Lady Alexandra Naldera Metcalfe CSJ, OM, CBE (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 Edward ...

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 (as of February 2019)

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