An Investiture is the very special day when someone who has been awarded an honour receives their award in person from The Queen, or a Member of the Royal Family. The investee visits a Royal residence, usually Buckingham Palace, with members of their family, to receive their shining insignia.
Where and when do Investitures happen?
A list of Honours, recognising outstanding achievements, personal bravery and services to the UK and British Overseas Territories, is published twice a year by the Cabinet Office: the New Year Honours, and the Birthday Honours in June. The receiving of these awards and their accompanying medals, or insignia, however, happens at Investitures throughout the year.
Around 25 Investitures are held each year, and over fifty recipients attend each ceremony, either in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, or in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. Investitures also happen occasionally at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, or overseas during State visits.
The Queen and The Prince of Wales host most of the Investitures, but occasionally The Duke of Cambridge or The Princess Royal distributes the awards.
What happens at an Investiture?
The Queen, or Member of the Royal Family hosting the Investiture, enters the room attended by The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the guard. The National Anthem is played, and then the military band or orchestra continues to play a variety of music while the recipients are called forwards one-by-one, usually by the Lord Chamberlain. The Member of the Royal Family places the decoration on the person and congratulates them on their honour. Those who are receiving a knighthood kneel on an Investiture stool before The Queen to be dubbed.
What kind of honours are there?
The most well-known honours are probably MBEs and OBEs, but these are just a few of the titles that may be awarded at an Investiture. There are currently six different Orders of Chivalry and four Orders of Merit into which people might be invested at various levels, known as ranks. The Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, a branch of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, is responsible for planning Investitures and organising the different insignia that are being awarded.
- The Queen enters the room attended by two Gurkha orderly officers, a tradition begun by Queen Victoria in 1876.
- The word 'investiture' comes from the Latin word for dressing, or robing, in reference to the formal dress with which an incumbent being invested with a throne or a very high rank might be adorned, as part of the insignia for that role.
- The sword with which The Queen dubs new knights belonged to her father, George VI.