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Order of the Indian Empire
Order of the Indian EmpireInsignia.JPG
The insignia of The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire
Awarded by the Queen of the United Kingdom
Type Order
Awarded for At the monarch's pleasure
Status Not awarded since 1947
Dormant order since 2010
Sovereign Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Grades Knight Grand Commander (GCIE)
Knight Commander (KCIE)
Companion (CIE)
Next (higher) Order of St Michael and St George
Next (lower) Royal Victorian Order
Order of the Indian Empire Ribbon.svg
ribbon bar of the Order of the Indian Empire
Major-General H.H. Farzand-i-Dilband Rasikh- al-Iqtidad-i-Daulat-i-Inglishia, Raja-i-Rajagan, Maharaja Sir Jagatjit Singh, Bahadur, Maharaja of Kapurthala, GCSI , GCIE , GBE
Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, a Knight Grand Commander of the order.

The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1878. The Order includes members of three classes:

  1. Knight Grand Commander (GCIE)
  2. Knight Commander (KCIE)
  3. Companion (CIE)

No appointments have been made since 1947, the year of Indian independence and the Partition of India. In 2010 the last surviving knight, The Maharaja of Dhrangadhra, died and the order became dormant .

The motto of the Order is Imperatricis auspiciis, (Under the auspices of the Empress), a reference to Queen Victoria, the first Empress of India. The Order is the junior British order of chivalry associated with the Empire of India; the senior one is The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India.


The British founded the Order in 1878 to reward British and "native" officials who served in India. The Order originally had only one class (Companion), but a second class, Knights Commander, was added in 1887. The British authorities intended the Order of the Indian Empire as a less exclusive version of the Order of the Star of India (founded in 1861); consequently, many more appointments were made to the former than to the latter.

On 15 February 1887, the Order of the Indian Empire formally became "The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire" and was divided into two classes: Knights Commander and Companions, with the following first Knights Commander:

  • General Sir Frederick Sleigh Roberts
  • Edward Drummond
  • Sir Alfred Comyns Lyall
  • Bhagvatsingh of Gondal
  • Robert Anstruther Dalyell
  • Maxwell Melvill
  • Alexander Cunningham
  • Rana Shankar Baksh Singh
  • Dietrich Brandis
  • Sir Monier Williams
  • Pusapati Ananda Gajapati Raju, Maharaja of Vizianagram
  • Donald Campbell Macnabb
  • Honourable Nawab Sir Imam Buksh Khan Mazari, The Nawab of Mazari.Pakistan
  • Nawab Munir ud-Daula Salar Jang, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad
  • George Christopher Molesworth Birdwood
  • Ranjit Singh, Raja of Ratlam
  • Surgeon-General Benjamin Simpson
  • Albert James Leppoc Cappel
  • Sayyid Hassan Ali Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Murshidabad
  • Lachmessur Singh, Maharaja of Darbhanga
  • Bapu Sahib Avar
  • Donald Mackenzie Wallace
  • Alfred Woodley Croft
  • Bradford Leslie

However, on 5 January 1888, a further proclamation regarding the Order was made; the Order was expanded from two classes to three - Knight Grand Commander, Knight Commander and Companion. Seven Knights Grand Commander were created; they were:

Normally the highest grade in British orders is Knight Grand Cross, but Knight Grand Commander was chosen for the two Indian awards because of the Christian symbolism of the cross.

Appointments to both Orders stopped after 14 August 1947. The Orders have never been formally abolished, and Queen Elizabeth II remains the Sovereign of the Orders to this day. Today, there are no living members of the order.

  • The last Grand Master of the Order, Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979), died on 27 August 1979.
  • The last surviving GCIE, HH Maharaja Sri Sir Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma (1912-1991), the Maharaja of Travancore, died on 19 July 1991 in Trivandrum.
  • The last surviving KCIE, HH Maharaja Sri Sir the Maharaja of Dhrangadhra (1923-2010), the Maharaja of Dhrangadhra-Halvad, died at Dhrangadhra on 1 August 2010.
  • The last surviving CIE, Vice-Admiral Sir Ronald Brockman (1909-1999), died on 3 September 1999 in London.

The fictional characters Purun Dass (invented by Rudyard Kipling) and Harry Paget Flashman (invented by George MacDonald Fraser) each held a KCIE; Kipling's engineer Findlayson in The Day's Work (1908) wants the CIE.


The British Sovereign is the Sovereign of the Order. The Grand Master held the next-most senior rank; the position was held, ex officio, by the Viceroy of India. Members of the first class were known as "Knights Grand Commanders" rather than "Knights Grand Cross" so as not to offend the non-Christian Indians appointed to the Order.

At the time of foundation in 1878 the order had only one class, that of Companion. There could be any number of members. In 1887, the Order was divided into the two classes of Knights Commander (50 at any given time) and Companions (no quota). The following year the class of Knight Grand Commander (25 at any given time) was added; the composition of the other two classes remained the same.

British officials and soldiers were eligible for appointment, as were rulers of Indian Princely States. Generally, the rulers of the more important states were appointed Knights Grand Commanders of the Order of the Star of India, rather than of the Order of the Indian Empire. Women, except the princely rulers, could not be members the Order. Female princely rulers were admitted as "Knights" rather than as "Dames" or "Ladies".

As well, other Asian and Middle Eastern rulers were also appointed.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Orden del Imperio de la India para niños

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