Queen’s honours judging process explained

The Queen’s honours judging process is something that is considered by many to be a bit of a mystery. In reality it follows a clear path but completion of the nomination form and the gathering of letters of support is a long and time-consuming task to do well. 

Take a look at our infographic, which shows the step–by–step judging process to getting a gong like an MBE, OBE, CBE or knighthood. 

Thousands of nominations are made by the general public throughout the year and sent to the Cabinet Office. 

The Honours and Appointments Secretariat makes an initial assessment of the nomination, completes basic fact checks and seeks further consultation with relevant public bodies, regional Lord Lieutenants and government departments. 

Once this stage is complete, the nominees are put forward to the relevant specialist committees for consideration. For example, a candidate nominated for their services to medicine would be passed on to the Health Committee, a teacher to the Education Committee and so forth. 

Only the best candidates are selected by the individual committees to be put forward to the Main Honours Committee. This committee is responsible for making the final recommendations to the Prime Minister. 

A Philanthropy Committee was introduced in 2011 in a bid to encourage philanthropic activity.  This special sub-committee of the Main Honours Committee assess all candidates considered by the honours committees and aims to ensure that candidates who are major philanthropists are considered carefully. 

Due to the volume of nominations received each year and the care that is taken to assess them; it takes an average of 12 to 18 months for the nomination to make it as far as the Prime Minister’s office and then on to Buckingham Palace. Which is why it is essential not to delay making a nomination – nominees will only be considered if their nomination has been submitted while they are still active in the area for which they are being nominated. 

Main committee

Members are:

·       Sir Jonathan Stephens KCB (chair)

·       Chair of Arts and Media Committee: Rupert Gavin

·       Chair of Community, Voluntary and Local Services Committee: Dame Clare TickellDBE

·       Chair of the Economy Committee: Sir Ian Cheshire

·       Chair of Education Committee: Sir Daniel Moynihan

·       Chair of Health Committee: Professor The Lord Kakkar

·       Chair of Parliamentary and Political Service Committee: The Rt. Hon. The Lord Spicer

·       Chair of Science and Technology Committee: Professor Sir John Bell GBE

·       Chair of Sport Committee: The Lord Coe of Ranmore KBE CH

·       Chair of State Committee: Dame Mary Marsh DBE

·       The Cabinet Secretary

·       The Permanent Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

·       The Chief of Defence Staff

·       Another Permanent Secretary (vacant)

Arts and media

Rupert Gavin – Chair, Historic Royal Palaces (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford DL – writer, actor and director

·       Dame Liz Forgan DBE – journalist

·       Julia Peyton Jones OBE – Director, the Serpentine Gallery

·       Luke Rittner – Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Dance

·       Sir Peter Stothard – Editor, The Times Literary Supplement

Official members:

·       Sue Owen CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

·       Leslie Evans – Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government

Community, voluntary and local services

Dame Clare Tickell DBE – Chief Executive, Action for Children (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       Evelyn Asante-Mensah OBE DL – Chair, NHS Manchester

·       Melanie Bryan OBE – social entrepreneur, Why Not Change?

·       Dilwar Hussain – Co-founder, New Horizons in British Islam

·       Dr. Angus Kennedy OBE – Chief Executive, Community Regeneration Partnership

·       John Knight CBE JP – formerly Director of Policy at Leonard Cheshire Disability and Board Member, Charity Commission

·       Dame Barbara Monroe DBE – Chief Executive, St. Christopher’s Hospice

·       Brian O’Doherty – Director, Helping Hand North East

·       Noreen Oliver MBE – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, BAC O’Connor Centre

·       Sir Nicholas Young – former Chief Executive, British Red Cross

Official members:

·       Melanie Dawes – Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government

·       Richard Heaton – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice

·       Sir Derek Jones KCB – Permanent Secretary, Welsh Government

·       Mark Sedwill CMG – Permanent Secretary, Home Office

·       Chris Wormald – Permanent Secretary, Department for Education

The economy (including business)

Sir Ian Cheshire – Chief Executive Officer, Kingfisher plc (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       Dame Helen Alexander DBE – Chair, UBM plc and Chancellor, University of Southampton

·       Dame Colette Bowe DBE – former Chair, Office of Communications (Ofcom)

·       Anya Hindmarch MBE – fashion designer and businesswoman

·       Brent Hoberman CBE – entrepreneur

·       Helen Mahy – Group Company Secretary and General Counsel, National Grid

·       Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE – entrepreneur

Official members:

·       Martin Donnelly CMG – Permanent Secretary, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

·       Sue Owen CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

·       John Kingham – Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury

·       Leslie Evans – Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government


Sir Daniel Moynihan – Chief Executive, Harris Federation (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       Dame Rachel de Souza DBE – Principal and Executive Director, Ormiston Victory Academy

·       Marion Matchett CBE – Civil Service Commissioner for Northern Ireland

·       Peter Williams CBE – former Chief Executive, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

·       Dr John Guy OBE – former sixth form principal and education consultant

·       Dame Asha Khemka DBE – Principal and Chief Executive, West Nottinghamshire College

Official members:

·       Martin Donnelly CMG – Permanent Secretary, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

·       Chris Wormald – Permanent Secretary, Department for Education

·       Dr. Malcolm McKibbin – Head, Northern Ireland Civil Service


Professor The Lord Kakkar – Director, Thrombosis Research Institute (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       Dame Christine Beasley DBE – Chief Nursing Officer for England

·       Dame Ruth Carnall DBE – Chief Executive, NHS London

·       Professor Sir Ian Gilmore – Chair, Liverpool Health Partners, University of Liverpool

·       Professor Karen Middleton CBE – Chief Executive, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

·       Sir Nicholas Partridge OBE – former Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust

·       Professor Sir Simon Wessely – Director, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London

Official members:

·       Dame Sally Davies DBE – Chief Medical Officer (England)

·       Una O’Brien CB – Permanent Secretary, Department of Health

·       Andrew Goodall – Director General, Department for Health, Social Services and Children, Welsh Government

Parliamentary and political service

The Rt. Hon. The Lord Spicer – Member, House of Lords (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       Dianne Bevan – Chief Operating Officer, National Assembly for Wales

·       The Rt Hon the Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO – Member, House of Lords

·       The Rt Hon the Baroness Hayman GBE – former Speaker of the House of Lords

·       The Lord Lisvane KCB DL

Official members:

·       The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP – Government Chief Whip

·       The Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP – Labour Chief Whip

Science and technology

Professor Sir John Bell FRS – Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       Professor Sir Tony Atkinson FBA – Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College

·       Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL – Vice Chancellor, University of Bath

·       The Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE – Vice-Chancellor, Aston University

·       Martyn Rose – Director, Martyn Rose Ltd.

·       Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell DBE FRS DL – President and Vice Chancellor, University of Manchester

Official members:

·       Professor Sir Mark Walport FRS – Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government

·       Professor Gareth Davies – Director-General, Knowledge and Innovation, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

·       Professor Julie Williams CBE – Chief Scientific Adviser, Welsh Government


The Lord Coe of Ranmore KBE CH – Chairman, CSM (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       Giles Clarke – Chair, England and Wales Cricket Board and Director, International Cricket Council

·       The Baroness Grey Thompson of Eaglescliffe DBE – former Paralympic athlete

·       Tim Lamb – former Chief Executive, Sport and Reaction Alliance

·       Tim Phillips – former Chairman, All England Lawn Tennis Club

·       Graham Taylor OBE – former England Football Manager

Official members:

·       Sue Owens CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

·       Dr. Malcolm McKibbin – Head, Northern Ireland Civil Service


Dame Mary Marsh DBE – (independent chair)

Independent members:

·       The Rt Hon the Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone JP DL – Member, House of Lords and Chair, Board Practice, Odgers Berndtson

·       Elizabeth McKeikan – Non-Executive Director, JD Wetherspoon plc. and former Civil Service Commissioner

·       Dr. Diana Walford CBE – former Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford

·       Dr. Suzy Walton – Deputy Chairman RSA, University of Westminster and Internet Watch Foundation

Official members:

·       Permanent Secretary, (vacant)

·       Sir Jonathan Stephens KCB, Permanent Secretary, Northern Ireland Office

Download our free Ultimate Guide to Queen’s honours now. If you would like to know more about the honours process or would like a free honours assessment just give us a call on +44 (0)1444 230130 or email enquiries@awardsintelligence.co.uk