The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh today attended a service to mark 100 years of the Order of the British Empire at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The service, celebrating the nation’s unsung heroes who have been recognised with such an honour, started with words of support for the victims of Monday night’s terrorist attack in Manchester. The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral said: “And we commend today to God’s love those who suffer at the hands of others in Manchester and elsewhere.”
The attack at a concert by US singer Ariana Grande left 22 people dead, and now 64 people injured.
Security was tight at the event, with Operation Temperer now in place, meaning soldiers are augmenting the police presence on the streets, especially so around Parliament and Buckingham Palace today.
Consisting of nearly 2,000 holders of the Order of the British Empire’s awards from all parts of the UK and Commonwealth, the congregation hold honours ranging from Knighthoods and Damehoods to CBEs, OBEs and MBEs.
The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in 1917 to reward outstanding contributions to the war effort. The order now recognises people from all backgrounds and walks of life for their contributions to society, be it drama, medicine, law, art or sport, amongst others.
Her Majesty is the Sovereign of the Order of the British Empire and The Duke of Edinburgh is its Grand Master; Prince Philip wore the robes of the Order of The British Empire, including a red silk mantle lined in grey silk, an embroidered representation of the star of the order centred by a gold medallion with crowned effigies of King George V and Queen Mary, and an enamelled circle inscribed ‘FOR GOD AND THE EMPIRE’, with gold braid cordons.
The Dean remarked, “Thousands of award holders quietly go enriching our civic life and serving those in need, building the kingdom of God in love and care for others; and their awards often recognise, not only their individual efforts, but also the service of many others alongside them.”
A service for the Order is usually held every four years at St Paul’s Cathedral, the last service being in 2012, with Her Majesty attending every other service; but this year’s service was special as it marked the 100th anniversary of the Order’s founding.
Highlighting some of the good causes that have been recognised by the Order the Dean said, “Hedgehog conservation, chocolate making, sport and health, industry and the arts, charity and volunteering – we celebrate an amazing hundred years of honourable service, thanking God who gives us life, that we might use it wisely and well in loving God and our neighbour”.