The Royal Victorian Order was founded by Queen Victoria in 1896. It is part of the state honours system, but is given at the discretion of the Sovereign and not on the advice of the Prime Minister. Appointments to the Order can be seen in a section of the New Year and Birthday Honours Lists, and are also made on other occasions throughout the year. The Order is used to recognise a wide variety of service to the Sovereign and the Royal Family. The Order is divided into five grades of membership, indicated by the following post-nominal letters:
- MVO (Member)
- LVO (Lieutenant)
- CVO (Commander)
- DCVO (Dame Commander) or KCVO (Knight Commander)
- GCVO (Knight or Dame Grand Cross)
The Order has an accompanying medal styled the Royal Victorian Medal, awarded in gold, silver or bronze. Medallists of the Order may use the post-nominal letters RVM.
The Order has a Grand Master and four ceremonial officers:
The Grand Master
HRH the Princess Royal, KG, KT, GCVO, QSO, GCL
This office is held ex officio by the Lord Chamberlain of the Household, currently Earl Peel, GCVO.
This office is held ex officio by the Keeper of the Privy Purse, currently Sir Michael Stevens KCVO.
This office is held ex officio by the Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, currently Lt Col Stephen Segrave.
This office is held ex officio by the Chaplain of The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, currently The Revd Canon Thomas Woodhouse.
Each year the Chapel hosts the weddings and baptisms of members of the Order and their families, and the Order has its own collect:
‘Almighty and eternal God, Lord of earth and heaven, whose Son Jesus Christ taught us that in loving and serving others we love and serve thee whose service is perfect freedom: So bless the fellowship of the Royal Victorian Order, founded by our late Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria to be a mark and seal of devoted service to our Royal Family, that it may ever be a true reminder that we are called by service on earth to thy service on high, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’