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 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: at New Year in June to mark The Queen's official birthday. The presentation of the award insignia - or medals - however, happens at Investitures throughout the year.
Around 30 Investitures are held each year, and over sixty 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 or Royal visits.
Investitures are hosted by The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and occasionally The Princess Royal.
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 two Orders of Merit into which people might be invested at various levels, known as ranks. Awards for gallantry and distinguished service can also be presented to members of the Armed Forces and the Emergency Services. 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.