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Order of St Michael and St George marks bicentary in a service of commemoration and dedication

The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George celebrated its 200th anniversary in a service of commemoration and dedication attended by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, the Grand Master of the Order. 

The service on Thursday 28 June 2018 was attended by 2,000 people including those who are holders of the Order awards. 

Before the service, the Officers of the Order gathered in the Chapel of the Order for the installation of Dame DeAnne Julius as Lady Usher of the Blue Rod and Sir Simon McDonald as Secretary. 

In a moment of solemn thanksgiving for all members of the Order, the banners of Knights Grand Cross who have died since the last Ceremonial Service were symbolically laid on the Dome altar. 

The Order of St Michael and St George rewards service in a foreign country, or in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs. 

The Order of St Michael and St George

Both before and after the Norman Conquest, and up to the Reign of King George I, it was customary for The Sovereign to confer a degree of Knighthood on those who had served the nation with distinction in military spheres. Later, civilian as well as military Orders of Chivalry were founded. 

In this tradition, the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George was founded by The Prince Regent, afterwards King George IV, in 1818 to commemorate the Ionian Islands being placed under British protection and Malta being placed under British Sovereignty and to reward meritorious services in these islands – St Michael, a martial figure, and St George, the Patron Saint of England. 

In 1818 the Statutes enacted that the reigning Sovereign of the United Kingdom should be the Sovereign of the Order. The Offices of Grand Master and Chancellor, appointed by The Sovereign, have in the past been drawn from among those who have experienced leadership in the Empire or Commonwealth. The first British Prelate was Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand, appointed on his return to England in 1877 as Bishop of Lichfield; since when overseas service has been the normal requirement of successive Prelates.

After the termination of the British protection of the Ionian Islands, the Order was placed on a new basis in 1868, when it was extended and made to provide for “such subjects of the Crown as may have held or shall hold high and confidential offices within Her Majesty’s Colonial possessions and in reward for services in relation to the foreign affairs of the Empire”. 

The distinctly religious basis of the Order was endorsed by establishing its own Chapel with St Paul’s Cathedral in 1906 and in more recent years by the Services of Commemoration and Dedication and the special Evensongs for the Order, held in the Cathedral itself. In 1968 Her Majesty confirmed that the Dean of St Paul’s should be the ex-officio Dean of the Order. 

The Chapel of St Michael and St George, off the south aisle, was originally the consistory court in which cases of ecclesiastical law were heard. Renamed in 1906 and dedicated to St Michael and St George, it is the spiritual home of the Order of St Michael and St George. Amongst the chapel stalls are banners of current knights and officers of the Order.

Discover more about the British honours system (British Monarchy website)