The Cambridge University Heraldic & Genealogical Society

Orders of Chivalry


This section describes the form of the insignia of British orders of chivalry, who wears each item, when it is worn and how it is worn.

The Riband
The is a length of material, usually in the order’s colour, from which the badge of the order is worn. The exact method depends on the rank and sex of the wearer and, if female, whether the wearer is in uniform or in civilian dress: women in uniform as put in the same class as men. Both this section and the section on the badge should be read with this in mind.

The Badge
The badge is common to all members within a given order but worn in different ways according to rank. In general:

The Star
The star is typically of chipped silver and at its centre is a medallion showing the same theme as the badge. The star is restricted to the two highest ranks of an order. (The forms worn by the two ranks are usually identical except in size – the lower rank’s is smaller.) It is worn on the left breast of the coat. In full dress, upto four stars may be worn at the same time (in a specified geometry).

The Collar
The collar takes the form of a chain and is typically made of alternating (solid) medallions and links. The badge is attached to the collar, and the collar then worn so that the badge lies on the chest and on the lowest point of the collar. The collar is worn by those of Knight Grand Cross rank and then only on
collar days. On the other days, the badge and riband are worn.

The Mantle
Typically made of one material in a colour characteristic of the order in question and lined with some other colour. It is fastened with a simple loop of cord. This is called the “cordon” and each end takes the form of a tassel. Besides being slit at the front, the mantle is also slit on the right side (to free the sword arm). The mantle is worn by those of Knight Grand Cross rank only. The mantles of some orders have hoods. For full details of mantles, see Robes of the Realm.

The Hood
The hood, where it exists, is worn on the right shoulder of the mantle.

The Hat
The hat, where it exists, is made of material similar to that of the mantle and lined similarly. It typically has a plume of feathers and these are fastened to the hat by a brooch showing the theme on the badge.