Order of Merit

History of the Order of Merit

Founded by King Edward VII on 23 June 1902, the Order of Merit is a very special distinction, 'given to such persons, subject of Our Crown, as may have rendered exceptionally meritorius service 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.'

Among the first to receive this award was Field Marshal Lord Roberts (1902). Since then, holders of this distinction have included Florence Nightingale, Augustus John, Bertrand Russell, Graham Greene, Dr Albert Schweitzer (Honorary), Sir Edward Elgar, E.M. Forster, Sir Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower (Honorary), Professor Dororthy Hodgkin, Dame Veronica Wedgewood, Mother Theresa (Honorary) and Dame Cecily Saunders.

About the Order of Merit

The Order is restricted to 24 members as well as additional foreign recipients. As with the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of Merit is in the sole gift of the Sovereign but carries no rank apart from the initials 'OM' after the name. The Order has only one class: members of divided into military and civil divisions.

The badge is an 8-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 'FOR MERIT' in letters of gold. On the reverse, also surrounded by a laurel wreath, is the 'Royal Cypher'. The badge given for distinguished military service has two silver swords with gold hilts placed saltire-wise between the angles of the cross. The badge is suspended by a ring attached to the top of the crown, fitted with a gold laurel chased loop through which the ribbon, half garter-blue and half crimson, passes.

The Order is worn round the neck by men and on a bow by women. It is not worn miniature, but it is correct for the ribbon to be worn when ribbons of other Orders, decorations and medals are worn with various uniforms.

Current members

In November 2022, His Majesty The King made six new appointments to the Order of Merit. The individuals were chosen by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in early September.

These appointments were the first since His Majesty became Sovereign of the Order.

Members of the Order of Merit

  • Norman Robert, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM, RA
  • Professor Sir Roger Penrose, OM, FRS
  • Sir Thomas Stoppard, OM, CBE
  • Nathaniel Charles Jacob, Lord Rothschild, OM, GBE CVO
  • The Right Honourable Betty, Baroness Boothroyd, OM
  • Sir David Frederick Attenborough, OM, GCMG, CH, CVO, CBE, FRS
  • The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Robert Henry Alexander, Lord Eames, OM
  • The Right Honourable Martin John, Lord Rees of Ludlow, OM, PRS
  • Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, OM, KBE
  • The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, PC, OM, CC, KC
  • Neil MacGregor, OM AO FSA
  • The Honourable John Howard OM, AC, SSI
  • David Hockney OM, CH, RA
  • Sir Simon Rattle, OM, CBE
  • Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, OM 
  • Sir James Dyson, OM, CBE
  • Professor Dame Ann Dowling, OM, DBE
  • The Lord Darzi of Denham, OM, KBE
  • Sir David Adjaye, OM, OBE, RA
  • Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, OM, DBE, FRCN
  • Baroness Benjamin OM, DBE, DL
  • Professor Margaret Olwen MacMillan, OM, CH, CC
  • Sir Paul Maxime Nurse, OM, CH
  • Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, OM 

 

Related content

Press release 02 April 2024

Announcement of a new Governor-General of Australia

Read more
Press release 06 February 2024

A Statement from Buckingham Palace

Read more

Message from The King for the 2024 Royal Maundy Service

It is my special prayer today that Our Lord’s example of serving one another might continue to inspire us and to strengthen all our communities.

28 March 2024

The Queen's speech at a reception to mark the results of The Queen’s Reading Room study

We share a very special bond, ladies and gentlemen – our love of books. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

26 March 2024

Message from The King to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War

It is our duty to remember what was once called “the Forgotten War”.

19 March 2024
About

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

As announced in January 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have stepped back as working members of The Royal Family. The couple married in St George's Chapel, Windsor on 19 May 2018 and have two children: Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lilibet of
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

A speech by Her Majesty The Queen at a reception to celebrate International Women’s Day and to mark the end of the WOW Girls Festival Bus tour

Let your lives be the stones that will shatter glass ceilings everywhere and inspire generations to come.

12 March 2024
News

Commonwealth Day 2024

11 March 2024
Commonwealth Day Service 2024

The King's Commonwealth Day Message 2024

The Commonwealth family is strongest when we are connected, through friendship.

11 March 2024

A speech by Her Majesty The Queen at the Grand Final of BBC's 500 Words, Buckingham Palace

Between you, you have created more than a million stories of thought-provoking adventure for future generations to study and enjoy. Thank you to everybody who has taken part...

28 February 2024

A message of condolence from The King to the President of Tanzania following the passing of former Tanzanian President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi

My thoughts and prayers are with former President Mwinyi’s family and the Tanzanian people at this time.

06 March 2024

A speech by The Duchess of Edinburgh, via video message, at the Restoration of the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Survivors’ Rights Conference, Ukraine

We must stand shoulder to shoulder with all survivors to secure justice and holistic redress, and ensure that this crime isn’t an accepted part of conflict.

04 March 2024

The King's message marking two years of conflict in Ukraine

My heart goes out to all those affected, as I remember them in my thoughts and prayers.

24 February 2024