What Is the Order of the British Empire?

Stella McCartney Joins Her Dad and David Beckham ‪in the Order of the British Empire‬ — but What Is It?

Stella McCartney Joins Her Dad and David Beckham ‪in the Order of the British Empire‬ — but What Is It?

Stella McCartney participated in a family tradition this week when she joined the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. In fact, Stella, who became an "officer" of the Order, one-upped her dad, Paul McCartney, who is only a "member." The order of chivalry was created in 1917 by King George V to recognize both military members and civilians who have served Britain, and today it is awarded by the queen on the advice of the government. Stella, who designed Team GB's uniforms for the London Olympics, was recognized for service in the fashion industry, and in 2003, David Beckham was recognized for his service to football.

Stella won't be called Dame Stella, however, as the honorifics "Sir" and "Dame" are reserved for the higher ranks of the order, whose members have included Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Dame Helen Mirren. But don't be confused: Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, and Sir Paul McCartney, all members of the Order, do not hold a high rank. Instead, they got their "Sir" titles when they later became a "Knight Bachelor," which is not part of the Order. Not everyone considers joining the Order of the British Empire an honor, though. David Bowie declined the award, saying, "It's not what I spent my life working for," and author C.S. Lewis also passed.

Now that you're more familiar with this British tradition, check out famous faces who have been initiated now.

Source: Getty
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