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The special meaning behind Princess Kate's incredible new honour from King Charles

The Princess of Wales's new role is a royal first

Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
23 April 2024
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The Princess of Wales has been granted an incredible new role from her father-in-law King Charles, having been appointed Royal Companion of The Order of the Companions of Honour.  

In a royal first, the prestigious appointment is a new one especially created for Kate, who is currently undergoing preventative chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.

The honour recognises the Princess' service as a member of the royal family and her support and interest in the arts. She is the first member of the royal family to be appointed a Royal Companion in the order’s 107-year history.

Kate is patron of the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A and the Royal Photographic Society.

The Princess is in good company as current members include Sir David Attenborough, Margaret Attwood, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, and previously Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Winston Churchill.

The Order of the Companions of Honour – limited to just 65 people at a time – was founded by King George V in 1917 to recognise outstanding achievements in the Arts, Sciences, Medicine and Public Service.

Sir Elton John with the insignia of the Order of the Companions of Honour © Alamy
Sir Elton John with his Order of the Companions of Honour

Royal watchers are likely to see Kate sporting the honour whenever she next attends a white-tie occasion, such as a state visit or the annual diplomatic reception.

The insignia consists of a gold medallion suspended from a red-coloured ribbon and surmounted by a crown. It depicts an armoured knight mounted on a horse and an oak tree from which hangs a shield of the Royal Arms. The blue enamelled border of the medallion is inscribed with the motto: "In action faithful and in honour clear".

What other honours does Kate have?

In her 13 years as a member of the royal family, the Princess of Wales has received some incredible honours and gifts.

In April 2019, the Princess was granted the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victoria Order (GCVO) by Queen Elizabeth II

Kate Middleton wearing white dress and tiara© Getty
Kate debuted her GCVO at the US state banquet in 2019

The award is the highest ranking of chivalry personally awarded by the monarch for services to the sovereign. The knighthood was first established by Queen Victoria in 1896 and King Charles, the present monarch, is the sovereign of the order.

The insignia includes a blue sash, a cross and a silver eight-pointed breast star – all of which Kate debuted at the US state banquet in June 2019.

The GCVO isn't the only honour that Kate has received. In 2017, Queen Elizabeth awarded her granddaughter-in-law the Royal Family Order, an honour bestowed on female members of the royal family by the monarch.

Kate Middleton wearing The Lover's Knot tiara© Getty
Kate's Royal Family Order with its yellow ribbon

The Princess debuted the Order at the Netherlands state banquet in 2018. It comprises of a miniature of the monarch, attached to a yellow silk ribbon.

She became the first British royal to wear a Royal Family Order made with glass instead of traditional ivory, in support of her husband Prince William's work around conservation.

What other gifts has Kate received from the royal family?

When William and Kate married in 2011, they were gifted with their very own country estate from the late Queen. Anmer Hall is located close to the royal family's Sandringham estate in Norfolk and it's where the Waleses like to spend the school holidays and Christmas with their children.

Anmer Hall is close to the Sandringham Estate© Getty
Anmer Hall is close to the Sandringham Estate

The Princess has also received beautiful pieces of jewellery, including the late Diana, Princess of Wales's diamond and sapphire engagement ring from her husband, Prince William.

Kate wearing a white dress at Wimbledon 2011© Getty
Kate wearing her personalised bracelet from Camilla at Wimbledon in 2011

Queen Camilla also presented Kate with a gold link charm bracelet as a wedding gift, engraved with a "C" for Catherine and her coronet.

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Princess Kate wearing black and white polka dots and a hat

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