How to get a Knighthood and Damehood

A knighthood, and the female equivalent, a damehood, is an award given by The Queen to an individual for a major, long-term, contribution in any activity, usually at a national or international level. It is one of the highest possible honours that can be received by an individual.

A man who is made a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) may use the title Sir.

A woman who is made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) may use the title Dame.

Free KBE/DBE Assessment

For a free honest assessment of your nominee's chances of success or if you have any questions, contact us today on +44 (0)1444 230130 or email us at

The Awards Intelligence Service

Using the Awards Intelligence Queen's honours nomination service is the first step towards being considered for a knighthood. Our legendary service has become the most successful across the world and is truly one of a kind. Save valuable time and significantly increase your chances of success. The average success rate is estimated to be just 10%. Our success rate is over 50%.

We are proud to help families, companies and individuals to put their candidates forward for recognition for their incredible achievements. Our fully bespoke nominations encompass everything that is special and outstanding about each nominee.

Before we start a nomination we always ensure the candidate meets all the necessary criteria for a Queen's honour nomination, offering a free assessment service to all. Call us today on 01444 230130 if you would like to find out if your nominee is in with a chance of getting a Queen's honour for their achievements.

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Who can get a knighthood or damehood?

Anyone can be nominated to receive a KBE or DBE so long as they meet the Queen's honour criteria for that award.

A knighthood or damehood can be presented for all types of different achievement, but usually the person nominated will have made a major contribution to the country at a national or international level; their work and achievements will be viewed as an inspiration to others; and they may have influenced their peers, industry or the nation through their sustained and outstanding commitment to their chosen area.

Often a knighthood or damehood will be awarded as a progression of an individual’s previous recognition with an MBE, OBE or CBE, if they have continued to achieve at a high level since their initial award.

When you make a recommendation for an award you are not asked to specify the name of the honour, so there is no need to stipulate that you think they deserve a knighthood or damehood. The level of honour awarded will be decided by the committees who look at all the evidence of that person's work in the nomination.

Examples of individuals with a knighthood include:

Professor Godfrey Palmer received a knighthood for his innovative and outstanding research into grain science and malt. As Scotland's first black professor, Sir Godfrey is also well-known as a committed human rights activist.

Professor Peng Tee Khaw, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and Professor, Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL, London, received a knighthood for services to Ophthalmology. His research and fundraising is enabling better treatments the world over.

Roger Michael De Haan, CBE, DL,  Philanthropist and former Saga boss, has been recognized for his work in regenerating deprived communities, received a knighthood for services to education, the arts and to charity in Kent and Overseas.

Examples of individuals with a damehood include:

Alison Carnwath has been recognised as role model for women in business, and one of the very few to chair a FTSE 100 company. Dame Alison was conferred following her success running one of the first property companies to restart development following the recession, and is well-known for her stance against bankers' excessive bonuses.

Asha Khemka, Principal of West Nottinghamshire College, was made a Dame for services to Further Education. Dame Asha has been principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College since May 2006, and during her time there she has helped to transform the facilities and provision of education.

Professor Pamela Shaw, Professor of Neurology at Sheffield University has been recognised for her achievements as a clinical scientist, her research has created a more in-depth understanding of motor neurone disease the world-over.

How do I nominate someone to be knighted?

In order to recommend someone for a knighthood or damehood you need to provide the Cabinet Office with all the relevant details of the nominee's achievements.

As with a nomination for an MBE, OBE or CBE, you must also provide a minimum of two letters of support with your nomination. These must come from people of have experienced the nominee’s achievements first-hand and able to talk with enthusiasm about their work.

Please be aware - you cannot resubmit nominations for Queen's honours year on year until you get the result you want! Once a nomination has been considered it will not be reconsidered until a minimum of two years have passed and then the new nomination must contain something significantly different to the first to even be considered again. 

If you would like to make a nomination for a knighthood or damehood, or for any other Queen’s honour, Awards Intelligence can assist you with a professionally drafted nomination that details all of the nominee's achievements in a clear, compelling and comprehensive account, backed up by evidence and first-hand appraisals of their work. We have the experience and undertsanding of the Queen's honours criteria to get it right the first time!

Can I be nominated for a knighthood?

You can't nominate yourself for a knighthood, but someone who understands your work and achievements can nominate you for the KBE or DBE. 

If for example a member of your family, someone who works with you, or your partner thinks you could be deserving of such a high level award, they can nominate you for recognition in the Honours List.

When making a recommendation for a knighthood or damehood, the nominator will need to provide accurate and up-to-date detailed information about their achievements. This will include details of how they have impacted on society, influenced others, changed life for the better and why their contribution stands out above all others.

Awards Intelligence can gather all the details, evidence and documentation the nominator needs to give them the best chance of success, or they can do this themselves if they have the time it takes to do so.  

When is the best time to make a nomination for a knighthood or damehood?

There is no deadline for making a nomination, but the person you are nominating must still be active in their role, and if possible there must still be some time before they retire.

When you submit your nomination for consideration of an award it takes around 12 - 18months for a decision to be made, so if you wait until someone has retired or stepped down from their role it may be too late for them to be considered for an award.

If you think your nominee would have a better chance of success once they have finished a particular project, you can simply make the nomination now and supply a letter of update when their project is complete.

Don't delay your nomination if your nominee is nearing retirement or it may be too late. Every year many individuals are conferred as either a Knight or Dame by The Queen, and next year your nominee could be one of them with yours and our help.

Who decides who will be awarded a KBE or DBE?

The Honours and Appointments Secretariat at The Cabinet Office collate nominations as they arrive and refer them to the most relevant of the nine honours committees.

Honours committees assess all kinds of achievements made by all sorts of individuals, from entrepreneurs and business men, to educational, legal and health professionals, to high achievers in sports and the arts, as well as community workers and volunteers.

Independent experts are selected to join the various committees, joined by senior civil servants. These individuals undertake further examination of nominations for all levels of Queen's awards, including knighthoods and damehoods, and together they will conclude who deserves which (if any) level of award.

The only way to make sure your nominee gets the recognition they deserve is to make a nomination so detailed and compelling that it leaves no doubt in the judges eyes that they are deserving of an award - and we can help you to do just that. Call us today to get your nomination started. 

What does a KBE or DBE nomination look like?

There is no right or wrong way for a nomination to look, every nomination is unique and should accurately reflect the individual it recommends.

When examining a nomination the honours committees are looking for evidence that the nominee is deserving of a knighthood or damehood. They are expecting to be informed about the individual roles, contributions and achievements of the nominee in a way that allows them to make an appropriate and informed decision. This includes dates, charitable contributions, professional achievements, voluntary roles, community achievements as well as genuine third party support from individuals who can provide further information about the nominee's achievements. 

When Awards Intelligence professionally drafts a nomination for an individual who is being recommended for a knighthood or damehood, we undertake a high level of research in order to confirm all the details of the nominee's achievements, making sure these are in line with the criteria for a Queen’s honour award. Our consultants commit on average around 150 hours to researching, gathering and collating all the information they need to give your nominee the best possible chance of success. 

Can I use the title Sir or Dame if I get a Queen’s award?

Only individuals who have been awarded a knighthood or damehood are entitled to use these titles with their name. If you are awarded an MBE, OBE or CBE you may use these letters after your name.

Foreign citizens who are awarded an honorary knighthood or damehood for their services to the UK or to other countries are not entitled to use Sir or Dame, but are often coined with the title by the public - for example "Sir" Bob Geldolf.

What are the benefits of receiving a knighthood or damehood?

Receiving such a high level award from The Queen is an exceptional time in an individual's life. This type of recognition is renowned across the world and is a true legacy for that person’s family, friends and colleagues.

Just a few of the benefits reported from Knights and Dames include:

  • Raised awareness of their work, ideas and projects. This is often a highly positive outcome of receiving a knighthood or damehood and it can be the recognition they need to open doors and build upon their achievements even further. 
  • New opportunities to support their causes. Receiving an honour can be helpful in expanding the scope of the individuals work and creating even more success for others. 
  • Trust, acceptance, respect and a raised profile - which can all be used for positive effect locally, nationally and internationally.

Do Queen's honours nominees have to live in the UK to get a knighthood or damehood?

Honours can be awarded to individuals living all over the world. UK citizens living abroad can be nominated through the Foreign Secretary's Overseas List. The List is made up of awards given to UK citizens and citizens of a Commonwealth country of which HM The Queen is Head of State.

Non-UK citizens can be considered for an honour for their work within the UK. UK citizen's achievements can benefit other UK citizens either at home or in their chosen country abroad, or must bring distinction to the UK in some way.

Any individual who is recommended for a knighthood or damehood must be doing inspirational and outstanding work that goes above and beyond that of their peers. The nominee will have achieved results that benefit the community, their peers or society at large in some way, whether at home or abroad. 

Nominations for KBEs and DBEs are often the result of an exceptional achievement, and may be made in any area; from business and philanthropy to professional work, public service, and sport or the arts. Often individuals are recognised with a knighthood or damehood for their work in more than one area, for example, for their professional role and for their charitable work.


What happens when you become a Knight or a Dame?

First you will receive a letter inviting you to accept the award - this usually arrives around 6 weeks before an Honours List is announced.

All Queen's honours awards, including Knighthoods (KBE) and Damehoods (DBE), are announced twice a year - in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in June and in the New Year's Honours List on the 1st January.

Conferment of a Knight or Dame takes place at an investiture ceremony, which may be held publicly or in private. At the ceremony, the individual will be ceremonially "dubbed" by The Queen, who will lay the sword blade on their right, then left shoulder.

Take a look at our blog video to see behind-the-scenes at an investiture ceremony. 

Who has Awards Intelligence helped to get a knighthood or Damehood?

Awards Intelligence will never knowingly divulge which nominations have resulted in a knighthood or damehood. We treat all nominations with the utmost confidentiality and respect.

However we are delighted to receive wonderful feedback from our clients, including this testimonial from the wife of a recipient of a knighthood:

“Well, I always knew he deserved a knighthood, but I could hardly believe it when he actually got the letter. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, I could never have achieved this by myself”

If you would like to read some feedback we have received from happy clients please have a look at our testimonials page.

Where can I find out about other levels of Queen’s honour - the MBE, CBE or knighthood?

When you make a nomination it is not necessary to stipulate which level of honour you think the nominee deserves. However it can be helpful to understand the level of award they may be eligible to be considered for:

In short, levels tend to be considered according to the spread of the nominee's work and achievements, for example; the BEM and MBE are mainly awarded for local, hands-on achievement; the OBE and CBE tend to be awarded for work and achievements that have had a wider impact on society, for example, influencing a profession, industry, region or nation; and a knighthood or damehood is the highest level of award given for the widest impact, for example an inspirational impact on a profession, industry, country, or charitable cause.

Our page by page guide will help you learn more about the type of work and achievements that lead to the different levels of award: MBE, OBE CBE, KBE and DBE

I want to put someone forward for a Queen’s honour now, how do I get started?

If you would like Awards Intelligence to professionally manage your Queen's honour nomination to give someone the best chance of success with a knighthood or damehood all you need to do is call +44 (0)1444 230130 or email

One of the Awards Intelligence Queen's honours consultants will talk to you first to make sure the nominee meets all the requirements of the Queen’s honours criteria and will explain to your exactly how each of our professional services works.

Will Awards Intelligence lobby for an honour for an individual?

Awards Intelligence will never lobby for an honour to be awarded to any individual. Our professional service is transparent and objective and bears no relationship to the Cabinet Office or any other government department or committee.

Every single nomination is considered by the appropriate honours committee and will only be judged on the merit of the candidate's achievements - not on who the nominator is, or on who drafted the nomination.

The Cabinet Office are aware when a nomination has been professionally drafted and ensure that all nominations are considered equally, ensuring a fair and equal process. 

Will a criminal record effect a nomination for a knighthood?

A criminal record will not prevent a person for being considered for a knighthood, so long as there is no outstanding issue.

Demonstrating how the nominee has turned their life around and used their experience in a positive way to help others can in fact make a great nomination, and there are many examples of people who have achieved this result despite a difficult time in their life.

Take a look at our blog story to find out more about one Queen's honours recipient who did just this, and ended up with an MBE for all her effort! 

Everyone has a unique story to tell in their nomination, so the best thing to do if you are considering an honour is give us a call for your free, confidential assessment and we will make sure you tick all the boxes for a Queen's honour nomination. 

Why is there no guarantee of receiving an honour?

Honours are open to all and are judged by the appropriate committee using a fair and transparent approach. Every nominee is considered for an award based only on the merit of their achievements, not on the merit of who has provided their nomination.

Using the Awards Intelligence honours nomination service will guarantee that your nomination is of the highest standard and detail, in order to give it the best possible chance of success. We will not guarantee the receipt of an honour as we do not influence the selection process.

The only way to ensure your nominee has the best chance of getting an honour is to provide a compelling case for consideration - and this is where we are the experts - so just give us a call to find out how we can help you today. 

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Sue Hall, Awards Intelligence

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