Star and Riband of a Knight Grand
Cross of the Royal Victorian Order

The Royal Victorian Order

Sir Robert Baden-Powell, G.C.V.O.
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order

Baden-Powell relates his investiture as a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order by King Edward VII at Balmoral Castle in Scotland shortly after his retirement from active service in the Army in 1909. From: Baden-Powell, Lessons from the Varsity of Life, 1933.


Apropos my visit to Balmoral, I had gone there to receive from His Majesty the honour of knighthood as a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order. I had arrived in the late afternoon and was told that the investiture would take place the following day, but just as I was dressing for dinner Legge, the King’s Equerry, came rushing into my room and said that His Majesty wanted to decorate me at once, and hurried me off to his dressing-room.

My diary records: While outside the door Colonel Legge took off my miniature medals and pinned on two safety-pins outside my coat, calling at the same time to a footmen to bring a cushion and another a sword.

It was like preparation for an execution.

Then we walked in.

The King, in Highland dress, shook hands, smiling most genially and kept hold of my hand while he told me that for my many services in the past and especially for my present one of organising the Boy Scouts for the country he proposed to make me a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order.

He then sat down and I knelt on the cushion in front of him, the equerry handed him the sword and he tapped me on each shoulder and hung the cross round my neck and hooked the star of the Order on my coat, and gave me his hand to kiss. Then he laughingly told me that his valet would put the ribbon right for me, and out I went.

(Oddly enough, the other day when I went to hang up my hat for the first time in the House of Lords, the usher who received me reminded me that he was that same valet who had helped me, and he also told me that I had slept that night in the room next to the King.)

This operation delayed me for a few minutes and when I got down to the drawing-room I found all the party were awaiting me, and those who possessed the Victorian Order formed a sort of little Guard of Honour inside the door waiting to shake me by the hand. It was all very embarrassing—and very jolly.

Later I found that the reason for this undue haste was that the dinner cards were already printed beforehand, and the Staff Officer in charge of this job had supposed I would be knighted that day instead of the next, and had therefore put me down as " Sir Robert," and it was in order to make the card correct that the King had had to do the knighting without delay!

From: Baden-Powell, Lessons from the Varsity of Life, 1933.

The Royal Victorian Order. British order of knighthood instituted by Queen Victoria in 1896 to reward personal services rendered the monarch. As it is a family order, conferment of this honour is solely at the discretion of the British sovereign.

Unlike other British orders, there is no limit on the number of members. It was Edward VIII, during his brief reign (1936), who admitted women to the order. This was the first British order to consist of more than three classes which, listed in descending order, are knight or dame grand cross (G.C.V.O.), knight or dame commander (K.C.V.O. or D.C.V.O., respectively), commander (C.V.O.), lieutenant (L.V.O.), and member (M.V.O.). Conferment of the two highest classes entails admission into knighthood. Foreigners can be admitted as honorary members.

The day of the order is June 20, marking the date of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne. Since 1938, the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, London, has been the chapel of the order, where the royal family and knights and dames grand cross have affixed their stall plates bearing their coats of arms. The order’s badge depicts a Maltese Cross with the motto "Victoria," the initials "V.R.I.," and an imperial crown. Associated with this order is the Royal Victorian Medal, awarded for personal military service to the monarch.

From Britannica Online

"Royal Victorian Order." Britannica Online.
[May 18, 1997]

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