The Landmark Trust is a British building conservation charity, founded in 1965 by Sir John and Lady Smith, that rescues buildings of historic interest or architectural merit and makes them available for holiday rental. The Trust's headquarters is at Shottesbrooke in Berkshire. Most Trust properties are in England and Wales. Several are on Lundy Island off the coast of north Devon, operated under lease from the National Trust. In continental Europe there are Landmark sites in Belgium and Italy. Five properties are in the United States — all in Vermont — one of which, was the home of Rudyard Kipling in the 1890s; the Trust is a charity registered in Scotland. The American sites are owned by an independent sister charity, Landmark Trust USA. There is an Irish Landmark Trust; those who rent Landmarks provide a source of funds to support restoration costs and building maintenance. The first rentals were in 1967; the Trust's 200th property, Llwyn Celyn, opened for rental in October 2018. Landmark sites include forts, manor houses, cottages, gatehouses and towers and represent historic periods from medieval to the 20th century.
The Trust employs a 400-strong workforce headed by a Director. Anna Keay was appointed Director in 2012, succeeding Peter Pearce and Robin Evans FRICS; the work of the Trust is overseen by a Board of Trustees chaired by Neil Mendoza. Prince Charles became Patron of the Landmark Trust in 1995. A group of high-profile supporters act as Ambassadors for the Trust, helping to raise awareness of the Trust's role in rescuing and preserving remarkable buildings; as at March 2017 these were: David Armstrong-Jones. The Gothic Temple at Stowe was filmed in March 1999 as the Scottish Chapel in the Bond movie The World is Not Enough. In May 2015 five life-sized sculptures by Antony Gormley, titled Land, were placed near the centre of the UK and at four compass points, in a commission by the Landmark Trust to celebrate its 50th anniversary, they were at Lowsonford, Clavell Tower, Saddell Bay, the Martello Tower. The sculpture at Saddell Bay is to remain in place permanently following an anonymous donation and the granting of planning permission.
The work of the Trust was the subject of a six-part Channel 4 television documentary, Restoring Britain's Landmarks, first broadcast in October 2015. Four Channel 4 programmes, Great British Buildings: Restoration of the Year, transmitted from 23 March 2017, were co-hosted by Landmark Trust Director Anna Keay and Kevin McCloud. Buildings featured included Belmont; the following lists aim to be complete and illustrate both the variety of structures and geographical spread of the trust. In the Trust's early years, prior to the incorporation of the charity, properties were bought with the support of the Manifold Trust; the Trust's current portfolio includes properties bequeathed to the Trust, leased, or operated through a management agreement on behalf of other owners. Dates of acquisition and first lettings are shown where available from Landmark Trust or other published sources. Detailed histories of each building are prepared by the Trust's Historian during its renovation; these include summaries plus after photographs of restoration works as carried out.
Each building history is left as an album in the property for visitors to peruse. All Trust property history albums were made available online for the first time in October 2018. Fort Clonque, Alderney Nicolle Tower, St Clement, Jersey The Landmark Trust manages the Island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel on behalf of the National Trust, operates a number of holiday cottages there; the properties managed by the Trust include: The Barn Bramble Villa East Bramble Villa West Castle and Keep Cottages Government House Hanmers Millcombe House The Old House The Old Light The Old School The Quarters Radio Room St John's Square Cottage Stoneycroft Tibbets Hougoumont, close to the site of the Battle of Waterloo. The Trust contributed to the Chateau Hougoumont farm's £3M restoration, from 2013. An apartment in the former gardener's cottage over the south gates has been let since 2015. La Célibataire, Le Maison des Amis and Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, Gif-sur-Yvette, Essonne. Let since 2010. Casa de Mar, San Fruttuoso – from summer 2016 Casa Guidi, Florence – from 1995 Piazza di Spagna, Rome – from 1982 Sant'Antonio, Tivoli – from 1995 Villa Saraceno, Agugliaro – restored 1984–1995 Villa dei Vescovi, Padua – from 2006 Amos Brown House The Dutton Farmhouse Naulakha Kipling's Carriage House, Naulakha The Sugarhouse As at March 2019, the following properties were being restored by the Trust for future lettings: Cobham Dairy, Kent.
Grade II* ornamental dairy designed by James Wyatt in the 1790s in the style of an Italianate chapel, on the Buildings at Risk register. The Trust launched an appeal in late September 2016 to rescue the building and had raised £200,000 by 31 March 2017, thereby securing a further £200,000 match funding from Ecclesiastical Insurance; the full target of £954,000 was achieved by late 2017 and work was expected to start on renovation during 2018. Dunshay Manor, Worth Matravers, Dorset. Bequeathed to the Trust in 2006 by Mary Spencer Watson. Part of the Trust's Legacy Estate, proposed for a 20-year lease from 2013, much repair work was undertaken in the subsequent four years. In Spring 2018 the Trust announced further renovation would take place d
Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, she was educated at home, her father acceded to the throne on the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII in 1936, from which time she was the heir presumptive. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she has four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; when her father died in February 1952, she became head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ceylon. She has reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes, such as devolution in the United Kingdom, Canadian patriation, the decolonisation of Africa. Between 1956 and 1992, the number of her realms varied as territories gained independence and realms, including South Africa and Ceylon, became republics.
Her many historic visits and meetings include a state visit to the Republic of Ireland and visits to or from five popes. Significant events have included her coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012 respectively. In 2017, she became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, she is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch as well as the world's longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state, the oldest and longest-reigning current monarch and the longest-serving current head of state. Elizabeth has faced republican sentiments and press criticism of the royal family, in particular after the breakdown of her children's marriages, her annus horribilis in 1992 and the death in 1997 of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales. However, support for the monarchy has been and remains high, as does her personal popularity. Elizabeth was born at 02:40 on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V.
Her father, the Duke of York, was the second son of the King. Her mother, the Duchess of York, was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, she was delivered by Caesarean section at her maternal grandfather's London house: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair. She was baptised by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 29 May, named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after George V's mother, who had died six months earlier, Mary after her paternal grandmother. Called "Lilibet" by her close family, based on what she called herself at first, she was cherished by her grandfather George V, during his serious illness in 1929 her regular visits were credited in the popular press and by biographers with raising his spirits and aiding his recovery. Elizabeth's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born in 1930; the two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford.
Lessons concentrated on history, language and music. Crawford published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses in 1950, much to the dismay of the royal family; the book describes Elizabeth's love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, her attitude of responsibility. Others echoed such observations: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as "a character, she has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant." Her cousin Margaret Rhodes described her as "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved". During her grandfather's reign, Elizabeth was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle Edward and her father. Although her birth generated public interest, she was not expected to become queen, as Edward was still young. Many people believed he would have children of his own; when her grandfather died in 1936 and her uncle succeeded as Edward VIII, she became second-in-line to the throne, after her father.
That year, Edward abdicated, after his proposed marriage to divorced socialite Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis. Elizabeth's father became king, she became heir presumptive. If her parents had had a son, she would have lost her position as first-in-line, as her brother would have been heir apparent and above her in the line of succession. Elizabeth received private tuition in constitutional history from Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College, learned French from a succession of native-speaking governesses. A Girl Guides company, the 1st Buckingham Palace Company, was formed so she could socialise with girls her own age, she was enrolled as a Sea Ranger. In 1939, Elizabeth's parents toured the United States; as in 1927, when her parents had toured Australia and New Zealand, Elizabeth remained in Britain, since her father thought her too young to undertake public tours. Elizabeth "looked tearful", they corresponded and she and her parents made the first royal transatlantic telephone call on 18 May.
In September 1939, Britain entered the Second World War. Lord Hailsham suggested that the two princesses should be evacuated to Canada to avoid the frequent aerial bombing; this was rejected by Elizabeth's mother. I won't leave wit
Henry FitzRoy, 12th Duke of Grafton
Henry Oliver Charles FitzRoy, 12th Duke of Grafton, known as Harry Grafton, is an English peer and music promoter. He inherited the Dukedom of Grafton from his grandfather, Hugh FitzRoy, 11th Duke of Grafton, on 7 April 2011, he is a direct male-line descendant of Charles II of England. Grafton is the son of James Oliver Charles FitzRoy, Earl of Euston, his wife, Lady Clare Amabel Margaret Kerr, the daughter of the 12th Marquess of Lothian, he was known as Viscount Ipswich from his birth. On his father's death in 2009 he did not do so, his ancestor Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, was an illegitimate son of King Charles II by his mistress Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland. Grafton shares the surname FitzRoy with other natural lines descended from Charles II; the ducal coat of arms includes Charles II's royal coat of arms crossed by a baton sinister, indicating both the family's royal lineage and its origin in illegitimacy. Educated at Harrow School and the University of Edinburgh, he spent a post-graduate year at the Royal Agricultural College, studying estate management.
From 2002 to 2004 he worked in the United States in music business management, as a radio host in Nashville, in 2005–2006 as a merchandise co ordinator for the Rolling Stones on the A Bigger Bang tour. In 2007, he moved to London and in 2009, due to the death of his father, he returned to Suffolk to help manage the Euston Estate, he promotes live music events through his estate while modernising its 10,000-acre farm. On 14 August 2010, Viscount Ipswich, as he was known, married Olivia Margaret M. Sladen at Snowshill, Gloucestershire, their engagement had been announced on 15 April 2010. Together, they are the parents of two sons and a daughter: Alfred James Charles FitzRoy, Earl of Euston, born on 26 December 2012. Lady Rosetta Christina Clare FitzRoy, born on 20 July 2015. Lord Rafe FitzRoy, born on the 16th March 2017; the Duke's seat is Euston Hall, at Euston in Suffolk, near Thetford in Norfolk. 6 April 1978 - 7 April 2011: Viscount Ipswich 7 April 2011 - present: His Grace The Duke of Grafton
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors; the Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—the Conservatives' colloquial name is "Tories"—and was one of two dominant political parties in the nineteenth century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the 1920s, the Labour Party surpassed the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers — notably Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — led governments for 57 years of the twentieth century.
Positioned on the centre-right of British politics, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Different factions have dominated the party at different times, including One Nation Conservatives and liberal conservatives, while its views and policies have changed throughout its history; the party has adopted liberal economic policies—favouring free market economics, limiting state regulation, pursuing privatisation—although in the past has supported protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing both Irish reunification and Welsh and Scottish independence, supported the maintenance of the British Empire; the party includes those with differing views on the European Union, with Eurosceptic and pro-European wings. In foreign policy, it is for a strong national defence; the Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Gibraltan branches of the party are semi-autonomous.
Its support base consists of middle-class voters in rural areas of England, its domination of British politics throughout the twentieth century has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. The Conservative Party was founded in the 1830s. However, some writers trace its origins to the reign of Charles II in the 1670s Exclusion Crisis. Other historians point to a faction, rooted in the 18th century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger in the 1780s, they were known as "Independent Whigs", "Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites" and never used terms such as "Tory" or "Conservative". Pitt died in 1806. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was used for a new party that, according to historian Robert Blake, "are the ancestors of Conservatism". Blake adds that Pitt's successors after 1812 "were not in any sense standard-bearer's of true Toryism"; the term "Conservative" was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830.
The name caught on and was adopted under the aegis of Sir Robert Peel around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of the Tamworth Manifesto; the term "Conservative Party" rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845. The widening of the electoral franchise in the nineteenth century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886, the party formed an alliance with Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain's new Liberal Unionist Party and, under the statesmen Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906 when it split over the issue of free trade. Young Winston Churchill denounced Chamberlain's attack on free trade, helped organize the opposition inside the Unionist/Conservative Party.
Balfour, as party leader, followed Chamberlain's policy introduced protectionist legislation. The high tariff element called itself "Tariff Reformers" and in a major speech in Manchester on May 13, 1904, Churchill warned their takeover of the Unionist/Conservative party would permanently brand it as: A party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable confederation. Two weeks Churchill crossed the floor and formally joined the Liberal Party. )He rejoined the Conservatives in 1925.) In December, Balfour lost control of his party, as the defections multiplied. He was replaced by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman who called an election in January 1906, which produced a massive Liberal victory with a gain of 214 seats. Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith enacted a great deal of reform legislation, but the Unionists worked hard at grassroots organizing. Two general elections were held in one in January and one in December; the two main parties were now dead equal in seats.
The Unionists had more popular votes but the Liberals kept control with a coalition with the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1912, the Liberal Unionis
National Provincial Bank
National Provincial Bank was a British retail bank which operated in England and Wales from 1833 until 1970 when it was merged into the National Westminster Bank. It continued to exist as a dormant non-trading company until 2016 when it was voluntarily struck off the register and dissolved. Considered one of the "Big Five," the National Provincial Bank expanded during the 19th and 20th centuries and took over a number of smaller banking companies, it was based at the thoroughfare's junction with Threadneedle Street, in London. The National Provincial Bank played a unique role in the development of commercial banking. Prior to the Act of 1826, English banks were permitted to have no more than six partners – hence the expression "private banks"; the only banks allowed to be joint stock were the Bank of the Scottish banks. The leading campaigner for change was Thomas Joplin a Newcastle timber merchant "with local experience of banking disasters" and an observer of the greater stability of the nearby Scottish banks.
The Act of 1826 permitted the establishment of joint stock banks but note issue was only allowed outside a radius of 65 miles of London. The 1826 Act was followed by the creation of new provincial joint stock banks and conversions from existing private banks; because of the prohibition on note issue in the London area, it was incorrectly assumed that the Act prohibited joint stock banks themselves, an ambiguity, removed by the Bank Charter Act of 1833. What differentiated National Provincial was that it was established as a provincial bank but with a London head office. Moreover, it was structured to be a branch banking enterprise prepared to concentrate on a large number of smaller accounts rather than a small number of large accounts; when Thomas Joplin discovered that the laws preventing the establishment of joint stock banks in Ireland had been repealed in 1824, he promoted the Irish Provincial Banking Company, to be based in London but with branches in all the principal towns in Ireland outside Dublin.
Joplin left the management of the Irish Bank in 1828. Financial support from his cousin George Angas was promised in 1829 and a company was formed in 1830; the first meeting resolved to establish a "system of banking …under the review of a central board in London applied to the direction of country banking". There were numerous delays but the National Provincial Bank of England was launched in 1833. For more than thirty years the Bank operated as a country bank, with its headquarters in London, but not transacting banking business in the capital; the first branch to be opened, at the beginning of 1834, was in Gloucester followed, as if at random, by Brecon, Birmingham, Wotton-under-Edge and Wisbech and by 1836 there were 32 branches. Considerable dissension soon arose relating to the structure of the branch system and Joplin, who favoured a network of local semi-autonomous banks, left; the model for the branch system had been the Scottish one, the Bank reinforced this by recruiting Daniel Robertson from the Union Bank of Scotland.
Many of the branches that were "opened" during the nineteenth century came from the acquisition of local banks, sometimes as a going concern, sometimes taking over the premises after a failure. Sources vary as to the number of acquisitions, their common trading name and the exact year of purchase. However, although they may have been strategic in their own locality, none of the acquisitions appeared to be large, it was not until 1866 that the Bank opened for banking business in London by which time it had a nationwide network of 122 branches. The Bank was appointed to the London Clearing House. By 1886 the National Provincial Bank had 165 branches and its network was second only to the London and County Bank. There was now little in the way of acquisition but the branch network continued to increase - according to RBS Heritage Online, there were 200 branches by 1900 and over 450 by the time of the 1918 merger; the bishop's gate device was part of a pictorial representation of the bank's address at 15 Bishopsgate in the City of London.
It is surmounted by two squirrels supporting an urn. In 1918 the National Provincial acquired the Union of London and Smith’s Bank, itself the product of recent amalgamations; the enlarged bank was renamed the National Union Bank of England. The Union Bank of London was formed in 1839 and it remained a purely metropolitan bank for the rest of the century. Although it refused to open branches in the provinces, it did develop an extensive overseas business. Policy changed at the turn of the century and the Union embarked on a major expansion acquiring in particular the private Cripplegate Bank in 1900, Smith's Bank in 1902 and Prescott’s Bank in 1903, thereby forming the Union of London and Smith’s Bank. Prescott’s Bank was founded in Threadneedle Street in 1766 and went through several name changes over the years as partners changed. However, in 1891 a multiple merger radically changed the scope of the Bank. Prescott's acquired another long-established London private bank.
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces, awarded to officers of other Commonwealth countries. The MC is granted in recognition of "an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land" to all members of the British Armed Forces of any rank. In 1979, the Queen approved a proposal that a number of awards, including the Military Cross, could be recommended posthumously; the award was created on 28 December 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers. The first 98 awards were gazetted on 1 January 1915, to 71 officers including one jamadar and three subadars, 27 warrant officers. Although posthumous recommendations for the Military Cross would be unavailable until 1979, the first awards included seven posthumous awards, with the word ‘deceased’ after the name of the recipient, from recommendations, raised before the recipients died of wounds or lost their lives from other causes.
Awards are announced in the London Gazette, apart from most honorary awards to allied forces in keeping with the usual practice not to gazette awards to foreigners. From August 1916, recipients of the Cross were entitled to use the post-nominal letters MC, bars could be awarded for further acts of gallantry meriting the award, with a silver rosette worn on the ribbon when worn alone to denote the award of each bar. From September 1916, members of the Royal Naval Division, who served alongside the army on the Western Front, were made eligible for military decorations, including the Military Cross, for the war's duration. Naval officers serving with the division received eight second award bars. In June 1917, eligibility was extended to temporary majors, not above the substantive rank of captain. Substantive majors were made eligible in 1953. In 1931, the award was extended to equivalent ranks in the Royal Air Force for actions on the ground. After the Second World War, most Commonwealth countries created their own honours system and no longer recommended British awards.
The last Military Cross awards for the Canadian Army were for Korea. The last four Australian Army Military Cross awards were promulgated in the London Gazette on 1 September 1972 for Vietnam as was the last New Zealand Army Military Cross award, promulgated on 25 September 1970. Canada and New Zealand have now created their own gallantry awards under their own honours systems. Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Military Medal the third-level decoration for other ranks, has been discontinued; the MC now serves as the third-level award for all ranks of the British Armed Forces for gallantry on land, not to the standard required to receive the Victoria Cross or the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. The Military Cross has the following design: 44 mm maximum width. Ornamental silver cross with straight arms terminating in broad finials, suspended from a plain suspension bar. Obverse decorated with the Royal Cypher in centre.
Reverse is plain. From 1938 until 1957 the year of award was engraved on lower limb of cross, since 1984 it has been awarded named to the recipient; the ribbon width is 32 mm and consists of three equal vertical moire stripes of white and white. Ribbon bar denoting a further award is plain silver, with a crown in the centre. Since 1914 over 52,000 Military Crosses and 3,717 bars have been awarded; the dates below reflect the relevant London Gazette entries: In addition 375 MCs have been awarded since 1979, including awards for Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the wars in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. The above table includes awards to the Dominions:In all, 3,727 Military Crosses have been awarded to those serving with Canadian forces, including 324 first bars and 18 second bars. A total of 2,930 were awarded to Australians, in addition to four second bars. Of these, 2,403 MCs, 170 first Bars and four second Bars were for World War I. Over 500 MCs were awarded to New Zealanders during World War I and over 250 in World War II.
The most recent awards were for service in Vietnam. The honorary MC awards were made to servicemen from fifteen Allied countries in World War I, nine in World War II. During World War I, Acting Captain Francis Wallington of the Royal Field Artillery was the first person to be awarded the MC and three bars when he was invested with his third bar on 10 July 1918. Three other officers were subsequently awarded a third bar, Percy Bentley, Humphrey Arthur Gilkes and Charles Gordon Timms, all of whose awards appeared in a supplement to the London Gazette on 31 January 1919. For their key roles during World War I, the cities of Verdun and Ypres were awarded the Military Cross, in September 1916 and February 1920 respectively. In May 1920, Field Marshall French presented the decoration to Ypres in a special ceremony in the city. During World War II Captain Sam Manekshaw, Indian Army, was leading a counter-offensive operation against the invading Japanese Army in Burma. During the course of the offensive, he was hit by a burst of machine-gun fire and wounded in the stomach.
Major General D. T. Cowan spotted Manekshaw holding on to life and was aware of his valour in face of stiff resistance from the Japanese. Fearing the worst, Major General Cowan pinned his own Military Cross ribbon on to Manekshaw saying, "A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross." The first posthumous Military Cross was that awarded to Captain H
Royal Victorian Order
The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood established in 1896 by Queen Victoria. It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the Commonwealth realms, members of the monarch's family, or to any viceroy or senior representative of the monarch; the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the sovereign of the order, the order's motto is Victoria, its official day is 20 June. The order's chapel is the Savoy Chapel in London. There is no limit on the number of individuals honoured at any grade, admission remains at the sole discretion of the monarch, with each of the order's five grades and one medal with three levels representing different levels of service. While all those honoured may use the prescribed styles of the order—the top two grades grant titles of knighthood, all grades accord distinct post-nominal letters—the Royal Victorian Order's precedence amongst other honours differs from realm to realm and admission to some grades may be barred to citizens of those realms by government policy.
Prior to the close of the 19th century, most general honours within the British Empire were bestowed by the sovereign on the advice of her British ministers, who sometimes forwarded advice from ministers of the Crown in the Dominions and colonies. Queen Victoria thus established on 21 April 1896 the Royal Victorian Order as a junior and personal order of knighthood that allowed her to bestow directly to an empire-wide community honours for personal services; the organisation was founded a year preceding Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, so as to give the Queen time to complete a list of first inductees. The order's official day was made 20 June of each year, marking the anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne. In 1902, King Edward VII created the Royal Victorian Chain "as a personal decoration for royal personages and a few eminent British subjects" and it was the highest class of the Royal Victorian Order, it is today distinct from the order, though it is issued by the chancery of the Royal Victorian Order.
After 1931, when the Statute of Westminster came into being and the Dominions of the British Empire became independent states, equal in status to Britain, the Royal Victorian Order remained an honour open to all the King's realms. The order was open to foreigners from its inception, the Prefect of Alpes-Maritimes and the Mayor of Nice being the first to receive the honour in 1896; the reigning monarch is at the apex of the Royal Victorian Order as its Sovereign, followed by the Grand Master. Queen Elizabeth II appointed her daughter, Princess Royal, to the position in 2007. Below the Grand Master are five officials of the organisation: the Chancellor, held by the Lord Chamberlain. Thereafter follow those honoured with different grades of the order, divided into five levels: the highest two conferring accolades of knighthood and all having post-nominal letters and, the holders of the Royal Victorian Medal in either gold, silver or bronze. Foreigners may be admitted as honorary members, there are no limits to the number of any grade, promotion is possible.
The styles of knighthood are not used by princes, princesses, or peers in the uppermost ranks of the society, save for when their names are written in their fullest forms for the most official occasions. Retiring Deans of the Royal Peculiars of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and Westminster Abbey are customarily inducted as Knights Commander. Prior to 1984, the grades of Lieutenant and Member were classified as Members and Members but both with the post-nominals MVO. On 31 December of that year, Queen Elizabeth II declared that those in the grade of Member would henceforth be Lieutenants with the post-nominals LVO; the current officers of the Royal Victorian Order are as follows: Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II, since 1952 Grand Master: Anne, Princess Royal, since 2007 Chancellor: William Peel, 3rd Earl Peel, as Lord Chamberlain, since 2006 Secretary: Sir Alan Reid, as Keeper of the Privy Purse, since 2002 Registrar: Lieutenant Colonel Michael Vernon, as Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood Chaplain: Peter Galloway, as Chaplain of the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, since 2008 Upon admission into the Royal Victorian Order, members are given various insignia of the organisation, each grade being represented by different emblems and robes.
Common for all members is the badge, a Maltese cross with a central medallion depicting on a red background the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria surrounded by a blue ring bearing the motto of the order—VICTORIA—and surmounted by a Tudor crown. However, there are variations on the badge for each grade of the order: Knights and Dames Grand Cross wear the badge on a sash passing from the right shoulder to the left hip.