03 June 2015

The Riband, Badge, and Star of the Royal Victorian Order

The Queen is Sovereign of the Royal Victorian Order, a dynastic order of knighthood established by Queen Victoria in 1896 which recognizes distinguished personal service to the sovereign. This is The Queen's personal gift, and not one for which she must consult with her ministers. Among those honored with the Royal Victorian Order in varying grades are loyal members of the royal household, members of the royal family, and members of foreign royal families.

This entry focuses on the insignia of the Order worn by The Duchess of Cornwall (and shortly by The Duchess of Cambridge); other forms and grades exist.

The Riband, or sash, is blue with a band of red/white/red on either side, and it is worn across the body from the right shoulder to the left hip. At the hip hangs the badge, a white enamel Maltese cross edged in gold with a gold back. The center of the cross features the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria in a ring of blue. The order of the motto, VICTORIA, is written on the ring and the medallion is topped by a Tudor crown. The Star has the same white cross and medallion at the center of a metal eight point star.

The Countess of Wessex wears the Order

Current working members of the royal family that hold the rank of Knight or Dame Grand Cross (the highest rank, and the one entitled to wear the Riband and other insignia as described here for state occasions) include:
  • The Duke of Kent (appointed 1960) 
  • Princess Alexandra (1960) 
  • The Princess Royal (1974; appointed Grand Master in 2007) 
  • The Duke of Gloucester (1974) 
  • The Duchess of Kent (1977) 
  • The Duchess of Gloucester (1989) 
  • Prince Michael of Kent (2003) 
  • The Countess of Wessex (2010) 
  • The Duke of York (2011)
  • The Earl of Wessex (2011) 
  • The Duchess of Cornwall (2012) 
  • The Duchess of Cambridge (2019)
For many, it is among the first such honors they receive from The Queen, while others are appointed after receiving honors of higher precedence. The names in bold above can currently be spotted wearing the Riband and Badge at most state occasions; others that have higher honors may wear some or none of the insignia at any given time.

The Duchess of Cornwall wearing the Riband with the Badge at her hip (turned backwards - hazard of moving around, I expect) and the Star at her waist

The Duchess of Cornwall was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on April 9, 2012, her seventh wedding anniversary. She currently wears the Riband, Badge, and Star on occasions such as state banquets and the State Opening of Parliament. Following her appointment, we first saw her use the insignia during the state visit from Kuwait in November 2012.

The Duchess of Cambridge was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on April 29, 2019, her eighth wedding anniversary.

There is also a Collar and Mantle for the Royal Victorian Order, but it is not regularly seen in use. The service for the Royal Victorian Order is held privately.

Appearances (on The Duchess of Cornwall only):
14 October 2019: State Opening of Parliament
23 October 2018: State Visit from The Netherlands, State Banquet 
5 December 2017: Diplomatic Reception
12 July 2017: State Visit from Spain, State Banquet
8 December 2016: Diplomatic Reception 
1 November 2016: State Visit from Colombia, State Banquet
18 May 2016: State Opening of Parliament
2 June 2015: Royal Academy of Arts Dinner
27 May 2015: State Opening of Parliament 
3 March 2015: State Visit from Mexico, State Banquet 
4 June 2014: State Opening of Parliament
8 April 2014: State Visit from Ireland
8 May 2013: State Opening of Parliament
30 April 2013: Inauguration of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands
27 November 2012: State Visit from Kuwait

Photos: Nicholas Jackson/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, Frankie Fouganthin/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, WPA Pool via Getty Images