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The ORDER OF MERIT (French: _Ordre du Mérite_) is an order of merit recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII
Edward VII
, admission into the order remains the personal gift of its Sovereign—currently Edward VII's great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
—and is restricted to a maximum of 24 living recipients from the Commonwealth realms plus a limited number of honorary members. While all members are awarded the right to use the post-nominal letters _OM_ and a medallion for life, the Order of Merit's precedence among other honours differs between realms.

CONTENTS

* 1 History * 2 Eligibility and appointment

* 3 Current members

* 3.1 Substantive members * 3.2 Honorary members

* 4 Precedence * 5 Notes * 6 Citations * 7 References * 8 External links

HISTORY

The first mention of a possible Order of Merit
Order of Merit
was made following the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
in 1805, in correspondence between First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Barham and William Pitt , though nothing came of the idea. Later, it was thought by Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria
, her courtiers, and politicians alike, that a new order, based on the Prussian order _ Pour le Mérite _, would make up for the insufficient recognition offered by the established honours system to achievement outside of public service, in fields such as art, music, literature, industry, and science.

Victoria's husband, Albert, Prince Consort , took an interest in the matter; it was recorded in his diary that he met on 16 January 1844 with Robert Peel
Robert Peel
to discuss the "idea of institution of a civil Order of Merit" and three days later he conferred with the Queen on the subject. The concept did not wither and, on 5 January 1888, British prime minister Lord Salisbury submitted to the Queen a draft constitution for an Order of Merit
Order of Merit
in Science and Art, consisting of one grade split into two branches of knighthood: the Order of Scientific Merit for Knights of Merit in Science, with the post-nominal letters _KMS_ and the Order of Artistic Merit for Knights of Merit in Art, with the post-nominal letters _KMA_. However, Sir Frederic Leighton , President of the Royal Academy , advised against the new order, primarily because of its selection process. King Edward VII, founder of the Order of Merit
Order of Merit

Victoria's son, King Edward VII
Edward VII
eventually founded the Order of Merit on 26 June 1902 (the date for which his coronation had been originally planned ) as a means to acknowledge "exceptionally meritorious service in Our Navy and Our Army, or who may have rendered exceptionally meritorious service towards the advancement of Art, Literature and Science"; all modern aspects of the order were established under his direction, including the division for military figures.

From the outset, prime ministers attempted to propose candidates or lobbied to influence the monarch's decision on appointments, but the Royal Household adamantly guarded information about potential names. After 1931, when the Statute of Westminster came into being and the Dominions of the British Empire
British Empire
became independent countries, equal in status to the UK, the Order of Merit
Order of Merit
continued as an honour open to all these realms and, in many, became a part of their national honours systems. The order's statutes were amended in 1935 to include members of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
and, in 1969, the definition of honorary recipients was expanded to include members of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
that are not realms.

From its inception, the order has been open to women, Florence Nightingale being the first woman to receive the honour, in 1907. Several individuals have refused admission into the Order of Merit, such as Rudyard Kipling , A. E. Housman , and George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
. To date, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh , remains the youngest person ever inducted into the Order of Merit, having been admitted by Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
in 1968, when he was 47 years of age.

ELIGIBILITY AND APPOINTMENT

All citizens of the Commonwealth realms are eligible for appointment to the Order of Merit. There may be, however, only 24 living individuals in the order at any given time, not including honorary appointees, and new members are personally selected by the reigning monarch of the realms, currently Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
, with the assistance of her private secretaries; the order has thus been described as "quite possibly, the most prestigious honour one can receive on planet Earth." Within the limited membership is a designated military division, with its own unique insignia; though it has not been abolished, it is currently unpopulated, Lord Mountbatten of Burma having been the last person so honoured. Honorary members form another group, to which there is no numerical limit, though such appointments are rare; individuals from countries in the Commonwealth of Nations that are not headed by Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
are therefore considered foreigners, and thus are granted only honorary admissions, such as Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
(South Africa) and Mother Teresa (India).

Upon admission into the Order of Merit, members are entitled to use the post-nominal letters _OM_, and are entrusted with the badge of the order, consisting of a golden crown from which is suspended a red enamelled cross, itself centred by a disk of blue enamel, surrounded by a gold laurel wreath , and bearing in gold lettering the words _FOR MERIT_; the insignia for the military grouping is distinguished by a pair of crossed swords behind the central disk. The ribbon of the Order of Merit
Order of Merit
is divided into two stripes of red and blue; men wear their badges on a neck ribbon, while women carry theirs on a ribbon bow pinned to the left shoulder, and aides-de-camp may wear the insignia on their aiguillettes . Since 1991, it has been required that the insignia be returned upon the recipient's death.

CURRENT MEMBERS

Further information: List of members of the Order of Merit

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

SUBSTANTIVE MEMBERS

MEMBER NUMBER NAME KNOWN FOR DATE OF APPOINTMENT PRESENT AGE

1-(122) The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT OM GBE AK ONZ QSO GCL CC CMM CD PC PC(Can) AdC(P) Consort of Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
10 June 1968 96

2-(162) Sir Michael Atiyah OM FRS FREng Mathematician , Fields Medalist , Abel laureate , and former President of the Royal Society 17 November 1992 88

3-(166) Sir Aaron Klug OM FRS Biophysicist , Nobel laureate, and former President of the Royal Society 23 October 1995 90

4-(169) The Lord Foster of Thames Bank OM Architect and Pritzker laureate 25 November 1997 82

5-(175) Sir Roger Penrose
Roger Penrose
OM FRS Mathematical physicist 9 May 2000 86

6-(176) Sir Tom Stoppard OM CBE Playwright 9 May 2000 80

7-(177) The Prince of Wales KG KT GCB OM AK QSO CD Heir apparent to Elizabeth II 27 June 2002 68

8-(178) The Lord May of Oxford OM AC FRS Ecologist and former President of the Royal Society 28 October 2002 79

9-(179) The Lord Rothschild Bt OM GBE Philanthropist 28 October 2002 81

10-(180) Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS Broadcaster and naturalist 10 June 2005 91

11-(181) The Baroness Boothroyd OM PC First female Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
10 June 2005 87

12-(182) Sir Michael Howard OM CH CBE MC FBA Military historian 10 June 2005 94

13-(183) The Lord Eames OM Former Primate of All Ireland and former Archbishop of Armagh 13 June 2007 80

14-(184) Sir Tim Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS FREng Inventor
Inventor
of the World Wide Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium 13 June 2007 62

15-(185) The Lord Rees of Ludlow OM FRS FREng Astronomer Royal
Astronomer Royal
and former President of the Royal Society 13 June 2007 75

16-(186) Jean Chrétien PC OM CC QC Former Prime Minister of Canada 13 July 2009 83

17-(187) Neil MacGregor
Neil MacGregor
OM AO Art historian and former Director of the British Museum 4 November 2010 71

18-(188) David Hockney
David Hockney
OM CH Artist 1 January 2012 80

19-(189) John Howard OM AC Former Prime Minister of Australia 1 January 2012 78

20-(190) Sir Simon Rattle OM CBE Orchestral conductor 1 January 2014 62

21-(192) Sir Magdi Yacoub OM FRS Cardiothoracic surgeon 1 January 2014 81

22-(193) The Lord Darzi of Denham OM KBE PC FRS Surgeon
Surgeon
31 December 2015 57

23-(194) Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FRS FREng Mechanical engineer 31 December 2015 65

24-(195) Sir James Dyson OM CBE FRS FREng Inventor
Inventor
and industrial designer 31 December 2015 70

HONORARY MEMBERS

There have been no honorary members of the Order of Merit
Order of Merit
since the death of the last such member, Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
, in December 2013.

PRECEDENCE

As the Order of Merit
Order of Merit
is open to the citizens of sixteen different countries, each with their own system of orders, decorations, and medals, the order's place of precedence varies from country to country. While, in the United Kingdom, the order's postnominal letters follow those of Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, membership in the Order of Merit
Order of Merit
itself gives members no place in any of the orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
. However, it has been claimed by Stanley Martin, in his book _The Order of Merit 1902–2002: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour_, that the Order of Merit is the pinnacle of the British honours system. Similarly, though it was not listed in the Canadian order of precedence for honours, decorations, and medals until December 2010, except relating to those who were appointed to the order prior to 1 June 1972, Christopher McCreery , an expert on Canadian honours and secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia , stated that the Order of Merit was the highest civilian award for merit a Canadian could receive.

Some orders of precedence are as follows:

COUNTRY PRECEDING FOLLOWING

AUSTRALIA Order of precedence Knight/Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle (KT/LT) Knight/Dame of the Order of Australia
Australia
(AK/AD)

Canada
Canada
Order of precedence Cross of Valour (CV) Companion of the Order of Canada (CC)

NEW ZEALAND Order of precedence Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB) Member of the Order of New Zealand
Order of New Zealand
(ONZ)

UNITED KINGDOM Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB) Baronet\'s Badge (Bt)

NOTES

* ^ For use in Canada, in accordance with the country\'s policy of official bilingualism . * ^ The number shown in brackets is the individual's place in the wider order of appointment since the Order of Merit's inception.

CITATIONS

* ^ _A_ _B_ The Royal Household. "Order of Merit". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 28 July 2009. * ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada
Canada
. "It's an Honour > Orders > Order of Merit". Queen's Printer for Canada. Missing or empty url= (help ) * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ Jackson, Michael D. (2007), "The Order of Merit 1902–2002: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour" (PDF), _Canadian Monarchist News_, Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada, Summer 2007 (26): 15, archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2009, retrieved 28 July 2009 * ^ _A_ _B_ Martin 2007 , p. 11 * ^ Martin 2007 , p. 12 * ^ Martin 2007 , p. 13 * ^ Martin 2007 , pp. 18–20 * ^ Martin 2007 , p. 1 * ^ Mountbatten, Philip (2007), "Foreword", written at London, in Martin, Stanley, _The Order of Merit: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour_, New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., pp. xvii, ISBN 978-1-86064-848-9 * ^ _A_ _B_ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Orders > Order of Merit". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 28 March 2014. * ^ McCreery, Christopher (2005). _The Canadian Honours System_. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 98. ISBN 9781550025545 . * ^ Editorial Board (15 July 2009), "Order Worthy?", _National Post_, retrieved 29 July 2009 * ^ _A_ _B_ Clarence House. "For Children > Medals and Uniforms > Medals > Picture 4: The Order of Merit". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 29 July 2009. * ^ Martin 2007 , p. 56 * ^ Curry, Bill (26 April 2013). "Prince Philip first Royal to be awarded Order of Canada". _The Globe and Mail_. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ _I_ _J_ _K_ _L_ _M_ _N_ _O_ The Royal Household. "The Queen and the UK > Queen and Honours > Order of Merit > List of current members". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 15 August 2009. * ^ "Queen gives Chrétien Order of Merit". CBC. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2009. * ^ The Royal Household. "Mr Neil MacGregor
Neil MacGregor
appointed to the Order of Merit, 4 November 2010". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 4 November 2010. * ^ _A_ _B_ The Royal Household. "Appointments to the Order of Merit". Queen's Printer. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2012. * ^ _A_ _B_ "New Year Honours 2013: The Full List". _The Guardian_. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "New Year\'s Honours 2016". 30 December 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2016. * ^ Jackson, Michael D. (2007). "The Order of Merit
Order of Merit
1902–2002: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour by Stanley Martin, CD" (PDF). _Canadian Monarchist News_. Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada. Summer 2007 (26): 15. Retrieved 15 December 2013. * ^ Government of Canada
Canada
(8 December 2010). " Order of Merit
Order of Merit
(O.M.) Order". _ Canada
Canada
Gazette_. Queen's Printer for Canada. 144 (25). SI/2010-88. Retrieved 10 December 2010. * ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada
Canada
. "Honours > Order of Precedence". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 24 July 2009. * ^ McCreery, Christopher (2005), _The Order of Canada: Its Origins, History and Development_, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-3940-5 * ^ Taber, Jane (15 July 2009), "Chrétien \'thrilled\' by rare honour from Queen", _The Globe and Mail_, retrieved 24 July 2009 * ^ New Zealand
New Zealand
Defence Force. "Medals Home > general medals information > order of wear". Queen's Printer for New Zealand. Retrieved 30 July 2009. * ^ "No. 56878". _ The London Gazette _ (Supplement). 17 March 2003. p. 3351.

REFERENCES

* Martin, Stanley (2007), _The Order of Merit: One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour_, New York City: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., ISBN 978-1-86064-848-9

EXTERNAL LINKS

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