This article is organised as follows:

PART EIGHT: ORDER OF WEAR AND PRECEDENCE

8.0     Introduction

This part of the article outlines the timing of announcements and presentation of awards. It then highlights the order of wear and wearing of medals.

8.1     Announcement of Awards

The names of those individuals who have been awarded honours are officially announced in the London Gazette. Lists are published each year:

  • The ‘New Year’s Honours’ published on 31 December;
  • The ‘Queen’s Birthday Honours’ published on the second or third Saturday of June; and
  • The Operational Lists usually published in the Spring and Autumn.

8.2     Presentation of Awards

As a general rule, Level One, Two, and Three awards (Section 1.5) will be presented by the Sovereign at Buckingham Palace. If the recipient is unavailable, e.g. on operations outside the UK, they may/will be presented their award by an appropriate representative of the Sovereign (e.g. a member of the Royal Family or a senior officer of the armed forces).

The dress to be worn by Service personnel at investitures when attending as recipients of awards at Buckingham Palace varies between the Services and also by rank.

The insignia of orders, decorations, and medals are not to be worn unless specially ordered. However, ribbons, including that of the decoration being received, are to be worn. Swords are not to be worn.

Recipients of a MiD, Queen’s Commendation, meritorious service and/or long service and good conduct medal(s), and other medals, will be presented their award by their commanding officer, or higher commander, at a suitable parade in a manner that reflects the prestige of the award.

8.3     Order of Wear

There are strict rules surrounding the wearing of medals and decorations. The latest full list of the British Orders of Knighthood, decorations, medals and the order of wear can be found in the 2003 publication of The London Gazette: London Gazette, The – Order of Wear (No.56879, Monday 17 March 2003, p.3351-3355).

Table 2 provides an outline of the order in which orders, decorations, medals should be worn.

Table 2: Order of Wearing for Orders, Decorations, and Medals
Group of Order, Decoration, and/or Medal Name(s) of Orders, Decorations, and/or Medals by Post-Nominal Letters in Group
The Victoria Cross and The George Cross VC, GC
British Orders of Knighthood etc. [1, 2] KG, KT, GCB, OM, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, CH, KCB/DCB, KCMG/DCMG, KCVO/DCVO, KBE/DBE, CB, CMG, CVO, CBE, DSO, LVO, OBE, MVO, MBE.
British Decorations [1] CGC, RRC, DSC, MC, DFC, AFC, ARRC, Order of St John (note not Service Medal of the Order of St John).
British Medals for Gallantry & Distinguished Service [1] [DCM, CGM, CGM(F)] [3], GM [DSM, MM, DFM, AFM] [3], QGM, QVRM, RVM [BEM] [4].
UK Operational Service Medals, General Service Medals, UN Medals & Medals of other recognised International Organisations [7, 8] Worn in order of date of award.
Coronation & Jubilee Medals In order of date of qualification.
Long Service & Efficiency Awards 1. Meritorious Service Medal.
2. Accumulated Campaign Service Medal.
3. Regular Forces LS & GC Medals (Army, RN, RAF, UDR/R IRISH (Home Service).
4. [ERD] [5]. TD, RD [5, 6].
5. RNR LS & GC Medal, RFR LS & GC Medal, RNXS Medal.
6. AE, VRSM, [UD] [6]. Efficiency Medal (Territorial), Northern Ireland Home Service Medal.
7. Queen’s Medals for Champion Shots.
8. Cadet Forces Medal.
9. Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service.
10. Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa (Op GRITROCK).
11. Rhodesia Medal.
12. Service Medal of the Order of St John.
13. Voluntary Medical Services Medal.
Commonwealth Orders, Decorations & Medals Instituted by The Sovereign In order of date of qualification.
Commonwealth Orders, Decorations & Medals instituted since 1949 otherwise than by The Sovereign (including those of the States of Malaysia and the State of Brunei) In order of date of qualification.
Foreign Orders, Decorations, & Medals 1. Foreign Orders.
2. Foreign Decorations.
3. Foreign Medals.
4. Worn in order of date of qualification.

Notes:

  1. The abbreviations listed are the authorised post-nominal letters, which are placed after recipients’ names in the same order.
  2. Persons subsequently appointed to a higher class of the same division (Military or Civil) of a British Order wear the badge and ribbon and use the post-nominal letters of the higher class (e.g. GBE precedes KBE, likewise KBE precedes CBE). If a holder of a lower class is promoted to a higher class in the other division, he may continue to wear the badge and ribbon of the honour first received but may only use the post-nominal letters relating to the higher class.
  3. No further awards made after September 1993.
  4. No further awards made after New Year Honours 1993.
  5. No further awards made after April 1967.
  6. No further awards made after June 1992.
  7. It should not be assumed that all UN and NATO etc. medals are authorised to be worn by British personnel in uniform.
  8. Multiple clasps awarded to a campaign medal should be worn in chronological order from the bottom of the ribbon upwards.

8.4     Wearing of Medals

Individuals should only wear official decorations, medals or emblems which they are entitled to and have been approved for acceptance and wear. Unofficial medals should not be worn with official orders, decorations and medals.

If an individual is the next of kin of a deceased service person, it is common practice to wear your relative’s decorations and medals as a mark of remembrance. It is custom to wear medals on the right breast in civilian dress only, official approval is not required to wear relative’s medals.

Current serving personnel should not wear relative’s medals or unofficial medals whilst wearing uniform.

In the UK it is no longer an offence for an individual to wear decorations, medals or commendations that they were never awarded. This change in the law was a result of the enactment of the Armed Forces Act 2006 (AFA 06), which repealed Section 197 of the Army Act 1955 and Section 197 of the Air Force Act 1955, in which the offence was originally specified.

The unlawful wearing of military uniform is covered by the Uniforms Act 1894, although it does not apply when an individual is just wearing medals.

The Fraud Act 2006 makes it an offence for an individual to wear uniforms or medals in order to make a financial or other gain. This would not apply, however, to instances of individuals simply trying to curry favour and respect in their community, with no explicit financial gain.

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