Originally bestowed solely upon those in high positions in the Mediterranean, the Order of St Michael and St George now recognises service in a foreign country, or in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs, for example the work of foreign-service officers and diplomats.
When the Ionian Islands, now part of Greece, had been placed under British protection, the Prince Regent (later George IV) instituted the Order in 1818 to recognise distinguished citizens of the islands, and of Malta. The islands were of importance to Britain as they made strategic locations for military bases.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century the Order was expanded to reward distinguished service in British territories, as well as more generally in foreign affairs.
The Order now consists of the Sovereign, the Grand Master (currently The Duke of Kent), 125 Knights and Dames Grand Cross, 375 Knights and Dames Commander, and 1750 Companions. The Badge of the Order depicts St George fighting the dragon on one side, and the archangel St Michael trampling Satan on the other.
The Knights and Dames Grand Cross display their banners of arms in the Chapel of the Order, which is in St Paul's Cathedral. When they meet together for a service every few years, the Knights and Dames wear blue satin gowns lined with scarlet silk.
Motto: Auspicium Melioris Aevi ("Token of a better age")
Chapel: Chapel of the Order of St Michael and St George, St Paul's Cathedral
Ranks: Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GCMG), Knight/Dame Commander (KCMG/DCMG), Companion (CMG)