Investiture ceremonies are a key part of the British honours system. If you’re recognised for your achievements in the Queen’s New Year Honours or Birthday Honours List, the monarch will formally confer your honour and title (if appropriate) on you during such a ceremony.
Your honour might be particularly prestigious: a knighthood or the female equivalent, damehood, which grants you the privilege of using the title Sir or Dame. A more common, though still coveted, honour is being made a Commander, Officer or Member of the Order of the British Empire. You’d then be entitled to place CBE, OBE or MBE after your name.
There are normally around 30 investiture ceremonies per year; most take place at Buckingham Palace. Each is attended by several dozen honourees and their guests.
Honoured by the Queen – An Unforgettable Experience
Being honoured at an investiture ceremony is likely to be one of the most significant events of your life. You’ll be thanked publicly for your contribution to your field, receive an ornate medal and converse with the Queen, all in fabulous surroundings.
The experience is also important to the monarch herself. ‘Investitures are tradition, and I’m always absolutely fascinated by the people who come – all the things that they’ve done,’ she remarks in a video produced for the Royal Family’s YouTube channel.
Investitures are Held in the Palace’s Largest Room
On the day of your investiture, you and your guests (you can only take three loved ones with you, so choose carefully!) will enter Buckingham Palace at about 10 am.
Investitures are organised by a branch of the Lord Chamberlain’s office, namely the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. Members of that team brief honourees about how the ceremony will proceed. You’ll be offered light refreshments – water or fruit juice.
The venue for investiture ceremonies is the ballroom. Built in the mid-19th century, the magnificent, 120 ft-long room is the largest in Buckingham Palace. It features a throne dais and musicians’ gallery.
The honourees’ medals (called insignia) are laid out on a table on the dais. You’ll be given a special pin to wear on your chest so that your insignia can be attached swiftly and easily.
Guests are seated in the ballroom, while honourees line up outside.
Yeomen Enter and the Ceremony is Underway
Shortly before 11 am, five Yeomen of the Queen’s Body Guard march slowly into the ballroom. Yeomen were first called on to protect the monarch in the 15th century, when Henry VII was on the throne. Nowadays their role is ceremonial, but they still wear the Tudor-style, scarlet uniform, complete with ruff, doublet and breeches, with pride.
The Yeomen are joined by four Gentlemen Ushers – senior officials (usually retired military personnel) who ensure the ceremony runs smoothly. They prompt the guests to stand.
The Queen enters with two Gurkha Orderly Officers (Nepalese soldiers who are integral to the British Army). Other key attendees include the Lord Chamberlain (the royal household’s most senior officer) and the Queen’s Equerry (a senior aide). (If the Queen is unavailable, another senior member of the Royal Family deputises.)
A military band plays the national anthem, then the Queen asks everyone to be seated.
Decorated for Your Achievements and Filled with Pride
When the Lord Chamberlain calls your name and gives the reason for your honour, you approach the dais and bow or curtsy. The Queen’s Equerry gives her a few relevant details about you. The monarch takes your insignia from a velvet cushion and pins it to your chest – a moment certain to fill you with pride. Knights kneel and are dubbed with the investiture sword. The Queen exchanges a few words with you – brief yet meaningful – and shakes your hand. You bow or curtsy again before departing.
The production company British Ceremonial Arts will film your time in the spotlight for posterity.
The ceremony lasts for about an hour and is followed by photos in the palace quadrangle.
Enhance Your Status as a Titled British Landowner
If our discussion of investiture ceremonies has made you eager for a taste of the high life, why not order an elite English title today? This isn’t the same as being honoured by the Queen, but it’s still a legal, affordable, enjoyable way to enhance your perceived status.
While we don’t organise investiture ceremonies, our stunning title documentation pack will certainly help you to celebrate in style!