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Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George
Order of Saint Michael and Saint George grand cross collar badge (United Kingdom 1870-1900) - Tallinn Museum of Orders.jpg
Collar and badge of the Grand Cross
Awarded by
Type Order of chivalry
Established 28 April 1818
Motto Auspicium Melioris Ævi
(Latin for 'Token of a Better Age')
Eligibility Typically British or Commonwealth realm citizens
Awarded for At the monarch's pleasure, though typically awarded for extraordinary non-military service in a foreign country or for services to foreign and Commonwealth affairs
Status Currently constituted
Founder Prince George, Prince Regent
Sovereign Charles III
Grand Master Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
  • Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GCMG)
  • Knight/Dame Commander (KCMG/DCMG)
  • Companion (CMG)
Next (higher) Order of the Star of India
Next (lower) Order of the Indian Empire
UK Order St-Michael St-George ribbon.svg
Ribbon bar of the Order
Knight Commander Order Saint Michael Saint George AEA Collections
Knight Commander, KCMG insignia

The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is a British order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince of Wales (the future King George IV), while he was acting as prince regent for his father, King George III. It is named in honour of two military saints, Michael and George.

The Order of St Michael and St George was originally awarded to those holding commands or high position in the Mediterranean territories acquired in the Napoleonic Wars, and it was subsequently extended to holders of similar office or position in other territories of the British Empire. It is at present awarded to men and women who hold high office or who render extraordinary or important non-military service to the United Kingdom in a foreign country, and it can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs.


The three classes of appointment to the Order are, from highest grade to lowest grade:

  1. Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG)
  2. Knight Commander or Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG or DCMG)
  3. Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
Classes of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George
Grade Knight Grand Cross Dame Grand Cross Knight Commander Dame Commander Companion
Prefix Sir Dame Sir Dame
Post-nominals GCMG KCMG DCMG CMG
Insignia Heraldic collar of the Order of St Michael and St George
Mattia Preti - St. George Victorious over the Dragon - WGA18398
St George and the Dragon by Mattia Preti (1678)
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (Order of St Michael and St George)
Coat of arms of the British monarch as sovereign of the Order of St Michael and St George

It is used to honour individuals who have rendered important services in relation to Commonwealth or foreign nations. People are appointed to the Order rather than awarded it. British Ambassadors to foreign nations are regularly appointed as KCMGs, DCMGs, or CMGs. For example, the former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir David Manning, was appointed a CMG when he worked for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and then after his appointment as British Ambassador to the US, he was promoted to a Knight Commander (KCMG). It is the traditional award for members of the FCO.

The Order's motto is Auspicium melioris ævi (Latin for "Token of a better age"). Its patron saints, as the name suggests, are St. Michael the Archangel, and St. George, patron saint of England and of soldiers. One of its primary symbols is that of St Michael trampling over and subduing Satan in battle.

The Order is the sixth-most senior in the British honours system, after The Most Noble Order of the Garter, The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, and The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India. The third of the aforementioned Orders—which relates to Ireland, no longer fully a part of the United Kingdom—still exists but is in disuse; no appointments have been made to it since 1936. The last of the Orders on the list, related to India, has also been in disuse since that country's independence in 1947.


GuidoReni MichaelDefeatsSatan
The Order's insignia often depict St Michael subduing Satan

The Prince Regent founded the Order to commemorate the British amical protectorate over the Ionian Islands, which had come under British control in 1814 and had been granted their own constitution as the United States of the Ionian Islands in 1817. It was intended to reward "natives of the Ionian Islands and of the island of Malta and its dependencies, and for such other subjects of His Majesty as may hold high and confidential situations in the Mediterranean".

In 1864, however, the protectorate ended and the Ionian Islands became part of Greece. A revision of the basis of the Order in 1868, saw membership granted to those who "hold high and confidential offices within Her Majesty's colonial possessions, and in reward for services rendered to the Crown in relation to the foreign affairs of the Empire". Accordingly, nowadays, almost all Governors-General and Governors feature as recipients of awards in the order, typically as Knights or Dames Grand Cross.

In 1965 the order was opened to women, with Evelyn Bark becoming the first female CMG in 1967.


The British Sovereign is the Sovereign of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order (by convention, on the advice of the Government). The next-most senior member is the Grand Master. The office was formerly filled by the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands; now, however, Grand Masters are chosen by the Sovereign. Grand Masters include:

The Order originally included 15 Knights Grand Cross, 20 Knights Commanders, and 25 Companions but has since been expanded and the current limits on membership are 125, 375, and 1,750 respectively. Members of the Royal Family who are appointed to the Order do not count towards the limit, nor do foreign members appointed as "honorary members".


The Order has six officers. The Order's King of Arms is not a member of the College of Arms, like many other heraldic officers. The Usher of the Order is known as the Gentleman or Lady Usher of the Blue Rod. Blue Rod does not, unlike the usher of the Order of the Garter, perform any duties related to the House of Lords.

Habit and insignia

Order of St Michael and St George mantle with star
Mantle of the Order
GCMG star
Representation of the star of a Knight or Dame Grand Cross
KCMG Jpegfile
Star and badge of a Knight or Dame Commander
Keten met kleinood van een GCMG
Collar worn by a Knight or Dame Grand Cross

Members of the Order wear elaborate regalia on important occasions (such as coronations), which vary by rank:

  • The mantle, worn only by Knights and Dames Grand Cross, is made of Saxon blue satin lined with crimson silk. On the left side is a representation of the star (see below). The mantle is bound with two large tassels.
  • The collar, worn only by Knights and Dames Grand Cross, is made of gold. It consists of depictions of crowned English lions, Maltese Crosses, and the cyphers "SM" and "SG", all alternately. In the centre are two winged lions of St. Mark, each holding a bible and seven arrows—the emblem of the seven united Ionian Islands.

At less important occasions, simpler insignia are used:

  • The star is an insignia used only by Knights and Dames Grand Cross and Knights and Dames Commanders. It is worn pinned to the left breast. The Knight and Dame Grand Cross' star includes seven-armed, silver-rayed 'Maltese Asterisk' (for want of a better description—see image of badge), with a gold ray in between each pair of arms. The Knight and Dame Commander's star is a slightly smaller eight-pointed silver figure formed by two Maltese Crosses; it does not include any gold rays. In each case, the star bears a red cross of St George. In the centre of the star is a dark blue ring bearing the motto of the Order. Within the ring is a representation of St Michael trampling on Satan.
  • The badge is the only insignia used by all members of the Order; it is suspended on a blue-crimson-blue ribbon. Knights and Dames Grand Cross wear it on a riband or sash, passing from the right shoulder to the left hip. Knights Commanders and male Companions wear the badge from a ribbon around the neck; Dames Commanders and female Companions wear it from a bow on the left shoulder. The badge is a seven-armed, white-enamelled 'Maltese Asterisk' (see Maltese Cross); the obverse shows St Michael trampling on Satan, while the reverse shows St George on horseback killing a dragon, both within a dark blue ring bearing the motto of the Order.

Prior to 2011, the devil was portrayed with black skin while St Michael was shown as being white; this was changed that year to show both with same skin colour, although St Michael's wings were changed from being multi-colour to being pure white. The alleged racism of this imagery has resulted in the government of Jamaica suspending the use of the badge entirely. In June 2020, calls were made for a complete redesign of the insignia, including from Sir Michael Palin of Monty Python fame, a Knight Commander of the Order In July, the Cabinet Office announced that officers of the Order who were unhappy with their insignia could exchange them for one of the newer models.

On certain "collar days" designated by the Sovereign, members attending formal events may wear the Order's collar over their military uniform or morning wear. When collars are worn (either on collar days or on formal occasions such as coronations), the badge is suspended from the collar. All collars which have been awarded since 1948 must be returned to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. The other insignia may be retained.


St Paul's Cathedral Chapel of St Michael & St George, London UK - Diliff
The chapel of the Order of St Michael and St George in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

The original home of the Order was the Palace of St. Michael and St. George in Corfu, the residence of the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and the seat of the Ionian Senate. Since 1906, the Order's chapel has been in St Paul's Cathedral in London. (The cathedral also serves as home to the chapels of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor.) Religious services for the whole Order are held quadrennially; new Knights and Dames Grand Cross are installed at these services.

The Sovereign and the Knights and Dames Grand Cross are allotted stalls in the choir of the chapel, above which their heraldic devices are displayed. Perched on the pinnacle of a knight's stall is his helm, decorated with a mantling and topped by his crest. Under English heraldic law, women other than monarchs do not bear helms or crests; instead, the coronet appropriate to the dame's rank, if there is one, is used. Above the crest or coronet, the stall's occupant's heraldic banner is hung, emblazoned with his or her coat of arms. At a considerably smaller scale, to the back of the stall is affixed a piece of brass (a "stall plate") displaying its occupant's name, arms and date of admission into the Order. Upon the death of a Knight, the banner, helm, mantling and crest are taken down. The stall plates, however, are not removed; rather, they remain permanently affixed somewhere about the stall, so that the stalls of the chapel are festooned with a colourful record of the Order's Knights and Dames Grand Cross since 1906.

The reredos within the chapel was commissioned from Henry Poole in 1927.

Precedence and privileges

Members of the Order of St Michael are assigned positions in the order of precedence in England and Wales. Wives of male members also feature on the order of precedence, as do sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders; relatives of female members, however, are not assigned any special precedence. (Individuals can derive precedence from their fathers or husbands, but not from their mothers or wives. This follows the general rule of honours, that a husband never derives any style or title from his wife.)

Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders prefix "Sir", and Dames Grand Cross and Dames Commanders prefix "Dame", to their forenames. Wives of Knights may prefix "Lady" to their surnames, but husbands of Dames derive no title from their wives. Such forms are not used by peers and princes, except when the names of the former are written out in their fullest forms. Furthermore, honorary (foreign) members and clergymen do not receive the accolade and thus are not entitled to use the prefix "Sir" or "Dame". Knights and Dames Grand Cross use the post-nominal "GCMG"; Knights Commanders and Dames Commanders use "KCMG" and "DCMG" respectively; Companions use "CMG".

Knights and Dames Grand Cross are also entitled to receive heraldic supporters. They may, furthermore, encircle their arms with a depiction of the circlet (a circle bearing the motto) and the collar; the former is shown either outside or on top of the latter. Knights and Dames Commanders and Companions may display the circlet, but not the collar, surrounding their arms. The badge is depicted suspended from the collar or circlet.

Current and past Knights and Dames Grand Cross

Knights and Dames Grand Cross

Number Name Post-nominals Known for Year
1 Zanzibar Sayyid Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah of Zanzibar GCMG Sultan of Zanzibar 1963
2 The Duke of Kent KG GCMG GCVO Royal family 1967
3 Guyana Sir Shridath Ramphal GCMG AC ONZ OE OM OCC KC Commonwealth Secretary-General 1990
4 United Kingdom The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn KT GCMG Governor of Hong Kong 1991
5 Papua New Guinea Sir Wiwa Korowi GCMG Governor-General of Papua New Guinea 1992
6 Antigua and Barbuda Sir James Carlisle GCMG Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda 1993
7 United Kingdom Sir Rodric Braithwaite GCMG British diplomat 1994
8 Papua New Guinea Sir Julius Chan GCL GCMG KBE Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea 1994
9 Belize Sir Colville Young GCMG MBE Governor-General of Belize 1994
10 United Kingdom The Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG CH British diplomat 1995
11 The Bahamas Sir Orville Turnquest GCMG KC Governor-General of The Bahamas 1995
12 Tuvalu Sir Tulaga Manuella GCMG Governor-General of Tuvalu 1996
13 Grenada Sir Daniel Williams GCMG Governor-General of Grenada 1996
14 United Kingdom Sir John Coles GCMG British diplomat 1997
15 Solomon Islands Sir John Lapli GCMG Governor-General of the Solomon Islands 1999
16 Saint Lucia Dame Pearlette Louisy GCMG Governor-General of Saint Lucia 1999
17 United Kingdom Sir Andrew Wood GCMG British diplomat 2001
18 United Kingdom Sir John Goulden GCMG British diplomat 2001
19 United Kingdom The Lord Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG British diplomat 2001
20 Tuvalu Sir Tomasi Puapua GCMG KBE PC Governor-General of Tuvalu 2002
21 United Kingdom Sir David Wright GCMG LVO British diplomat 2002
22 United Kingdom Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG British diplomat 2003
23 United Kingdom Sir Rob Young GCMG British diplomat 2003
24 United Kingdom The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG PC Secretary General of NATO 2004
25 United Kingdom Sir Stephen Wall GCMG LVO British diplomat 2004
26 Solomon Islands Sir Nathaniel Waena GCMG CSI KStJ Governor-General of Solomon Islands 2005
27 United Kingdom The Lord Jay of Ewelme GCMG British diplomat 2006
28 United Kingdom Sir Emyr Jones Parry GCMG British diplomat 2007
29 Jamaica Sir Kenneth O. Hall GCMG OJ Governor-General of Jamaica 2007
30 Antigua and Barbuda Dame Louise Lake-Tack GCMG DGN DNH GCH OM DStJ Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda 2007
31 United Kingdom Sir David Manning GCMG KCVO British diplomat 2008
32 Jamaica Sir Patrick Allen ON GCMG CD Governor-General of Jamaica 2009
33 Solomon Islands Sir Frank Kabui GCMG OBE CSI Governor-General of Solomon Islands 2009
34 The Bahamas Sir Arthur Foulkes GCMG Governor-General of The Bahamas 2010
35 Tuvalu Sir Iakoba Italeli GCMG Governor-General of Tuvalu 2010
36 United Kingdom The Lord Ricketts GCMG GCVO British diplomat and National Security Adviser 2011
37 United Kingdom Sir Nigel Sheinwald GCMG British diplomat 2011
38 Barbados Sir Elliott Belgrave GCMG KC Governor-General of Barbados 2012
39 Grenada Dame Cécile La Grenade GCMG OBE Governor-General of Grenada 2013
40 Saint Kitts and Nevis Sir Edmund Lawrence GCMG OBE Governor-General of Saint Kitts and Nevis 2013
41 The Bahamas Dame Marguerite Pindling GCMG Governor-General of The Bahamas 2014
42 Antigua and Barbuda Sir Rodney Williams GCMG KGN KNH GCH GCM KStJ Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda 2014
43 United Kingdom The Baroness Ashton of Upholland LG GCMG PC British diplomat 2015
44 United Kingdom Sir John Sawers GCMG British diplomat 2015
45 United Kingdom Sir Simon Fraser GCMG British diplomat 2016
46 United Kingdom Sir Peter Westmacott GCMG LVO British diplomat 2016
47 Papua New Guinea Sir Robert Dadae GCMG Governor-General of Papua New Guinea 2017
48 Barbados Dame Sandra Mason GCMG DA KC Governor-General of Barbados and President of Barbados 2017
49 United Kingdom Sir Mark Lyall Grant GCMG British diplomat and National Security Adviser 2018
50 Saint Lucia Sir Neville Cenac GCMG Governor-General of Saint Lucia 2018
51 The Bahamas Sir Cornelius A. Smith GCMG Governor-General of The Bahamas 2019
52 Solomon Islands Sir David Vunagi GCMG Governor-General of Solomon Islands 2019
53 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Dame Susan Dougan GCMG OBE Governor-General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2020
54 United Kingdom Sir David Attenborough OM GCMG CH CVO CBE Television broadcaster and conservationist 2020
55 United Kingdom Sir Tim Barrow GCMG LVO MBE British diplomat 2020
56 United Kingdom Sir Julian King GCMG KCVO British diplomat 2020
57 United Kingdom The Lord McDonald of Salford GCMG KCVO British diplomat 2021
58 Belize Dame Froyla Tzalam GCMG Governor-General of Belize 2022
59 United Kingdom Sir Iain Macleod GCMG British diplomat 2022
60 Tuvalu Sir Tofiga Vaevalu Falani GCMG MBE Governor-General of Tuvalu 2022
61 United Kingdom The Lord Sedwill GCMG British diplomat 2023
62 Saint Kitts and Nevis Dame Marcella Liburd GCMG JP Governor-General of Saint Kitts and Nevis 2023
63 United Kingdom Sir Simon Gass GCMG CVO British diplomat and civil servant 2023
64 The Bahamas Dame Cynthia A. Pratt GCMG Governor-General of The Bahamas 2023
65 United Kingdom Sir Stephen Lovegrove GCMG KCB British civil servant and National Security Adviser 2024


See List of current honorary knights and dames of the Order of St Michael and St George.


See also

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